Evolution Poem Long Questions and Answers

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Evolution by Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie’s Evolution

1. Discuss Sherman Alexie’s Exploitation of the ‘Buffalo Bill’ Figure in the Poem Evolution.

“Evolution” is written by the famous Native-American poet Sherman Alexie. The poem first appeared in his collection, The Business of Fancydancing: Stories and Poems, in 1992. Alexie highlights the systematic racism and how it confines the indigenous people into a life of deprivation. It also uses the figure of ‘Buffalo Bill’, based on the figure of William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917), and recasts him as a twenty-first-century businessman. This fictional ‘Buffalo Bill’, just like the historical ‘Buffalo bill’, builds his life on the foundation of exploitation of the Natives and thrives while the natives continue to lose their belongings and heritage and are pushed further and further into a state of desperation and despair. The poem ends on an ironical note that shows how the indigenous populations are reduced to a museum piece at the cost of the living members of the community.

Alexie centers the enterprise of objectification in the figure of Buffalo Bill. Also known as William F. Cody (1846-1917), Buffalo Bill, no longer just an historical figure but rather an icon now synonymous with the American West, did at least his share in exploiting Native Americans. An honorary website credits him with helping “his West to make the transition from a wild past to a progressive future.” Given the legendary status history has accorded him, Buffalo Bill may be compared to other colonizing heroes in Western culture, especially those who circulated a dominant ideology as their role in enhancing domination. His ability to disseminate representations stems not only from his ubiquitous stage presence but also from the extensive publicity that presented his image. Empowered with the iconic eminence of a hero, Buffalo Bill possesses the capacity and authority to reproduce and distribute cultural myths. His conception of the “real West” extends from his imaginary relation to American ideals that have themselves been formed by such hegemonic historical representations as Manifest Destiny. …. (Read More)

2. Justify the Title “Evolution”, a Poem by Sherman Alexie.

‘Evolution’ is about describing displacement of Native Americans. ‘Evolution’ is a part of the collection called The Business of Fancy Dancing (1992). The title is meant to point towards the social Darwinism of the American capitalist society and how it continues to decimate the Native Americans. Alexie highlights the systematic racism and how it confines the indigenous people into a life of deprivation. It also uses the figure of ‘Buffalo Bill’, based on the figure of William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917), and recasts him as a twenty-first-century businessman. This fictional ‘Buffalo Bill’, just like the historical ‘Buffalo bill’, builds his life on the foundation of exploitation of the natives and thrives while the natives continue to lose their belongings and heritage and are pushed further and further into a state of desperation and despair. The poem ends on an ironical note that shows how the indigenous populations are reduced to a museum piece at the cost of the living members of the community.

In the poem “Evolution,” Sherman Alexie talks about how white Americans exploit Native- American people and their cultures. Though the central character appears to be Buffalo Bill, he is the antagonist who represents “white” settlers and symbolizes a cultural erasure of Indigenous communities. He opens a pawn shop in an Indian reservation (areas designated for federally- recognized Indigenous tribes to live, while their own native lands were forcibly/deceptively taken away by white colonialists) where he offers loans to Native Americans in exchange for various “goods” that they bring to pawn. …. (Read More)

3. Alexie’s Presentation of the Dark and Grim Ordeal in the Lives of the Native American People, in Evolution.

Sherman Alexie is American poet who uses his Native American background as inspiration for his poetry. His poetry focuses on the lives of the Native American people, those who live on and off reservations. The poem “Evolution” by Sherman Alexie captures the systematic humiliation, degradation, and mortification of Native Americans. “Evolution” explores the devastating cultural destruction and exploitation of American Indians at the hands of white society.

In “Evolution,” Alexie points out the dark and grim realities of the lives of Native-American people, who have to constantly suffer at the hands of exploitative white oppressors while also battling issues such as alcoholism, gambling, and poverty in their respective reservations. While Buffalo Bill’s motives in opening a pawn shop seem neutral at first glance, it quickly becomes apparent that his sole purpose is to exploit the indigenous individuals for his personal gain. The very fact that the shop is across from a “liquor store” and he stays open 24/7 is proof enough of his manipulative, selfish tendencies. Buffalo Bill keeps exploiting the natives and taking their items until they come to sell even their bones and body parts. This depicts the height of exploitation by oppressors. …. (Read More)

4. Examine the Satire Intent on the Past of the Poet, Sherman Alexie in Evolution.

Sherman Alexie is American poet who uses his Native American background as inspiration for his poetry. In his poem Evolution, he talks about how the Native American culture is being degraded.

Sherman Alexie is an Indigenous American writer and poet who belongs to the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene Native American nation. He grew up on a Spokane Indian reservation in Washington. He experienced first-hand issues and harsh realities of indigenous people living in reservations (which was a systemic attempt at taking away indigenous lands and limiting them in clusters to fixed “cultural pockets” so that they could be “civilized”/governed more easily). White oppression on indigenous communities ranges from systemic violence and mass murders, erasure of ethnic identities and cultures, stealing native lands and forced removal of native people, cultural appropriation, and is the cause of their poverty and degradation. …. (Read More)

5. “Evolution” as Sherman Alexie’s Exploration of the Devastating Cultural Destruction, Appropriation and Exploitation of Native American People. Discuss.

Sherman Alexie is American poet who uses his Native American background as inspiration for his poetry. His poetry focuses on the lives of the Native American people, those who live on and off reservations. The poem “Evolution” by Sherman Alexie captures the systematic humiliation, degradation, and mortification of Native Americans. “Evolution” explores the devastating cultural destruction and exploitation of American Indians at the hands of white society.

With Alexie’s characteristic dark humor, the poem examines the exploitation of indigenous Americans. It features a modernized version of the famous frontiersman Buffalo Bill (a.k.a. William F. Cody), whose 19th-century roadshow “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” sensationalized life on the frontier and battles with American Indians for entertainment and profit. The poem is a kind of retelling of the story of Buffalo Bill, whose popular 19th- century roadshow “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” repurposed indigenous traditions and trauma for the entertainment of white audiences. This time, Bill opens up a pawn shop on a reservation where the local “Indians” go to sell their possessions. After they’ve pawned off everything they have, Bill opens up a “Museum of Native American Cultures”—selling a hollow experience of the same traditions and identities that he essentially destroyed. The poem works as an extended metaphor for the continued devastation and exploitation of native peoples. …. (Read More)


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