Activity: Think about the "tribes" (groups) you belong to. Fill in the circles



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English 10 September 10-11, 2013

Activity: Think about the “tribes” (groups) you belong to. Fill in the circles.

Class responses:


  • Friends

  • Family

  • Football

  • Hockey (teams)

  • Club teams

  • Pets

  • Work, co-workers, work friends

  • Madison (community)

  • School

  • HJI (charity group)

  • Survivor (of an illness, etc.)

  • Church community

  • Music

  • New Jersey (shore places)

  • Home

  • Television shows

  • Comics/graphic novels

  • Collectors

  • Internet group

  • Musicians/instrument

  • Anime

Let’s go over page 217 in The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian:

Look at these quotes—

“I realized that I might be a lonely Indian boy, but I was not alone in my loneliness. There were millions of other Americans who had left their birthplaces in search of a dream. I realized that, sure, I was a Spokane Indian. I belonged to that tribe. But I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants. And to the tribe of basketball players…”

“It was a huge realization. And that’s when I knew that I was going to be okay. But it also reminded me of the people who were not going to be okay” (Alexie 217).

*Epiphany—sudden realization

Arnold lost people who were close to him, he comes from a troubled home, but he realizes that he will be able to make it through.

How does the fact that you belong to the tribes you listed make you feel?



  • Not alone

  • Motivated

  • Supported

  • Less isolated

  • Wanted

  • Not invisible

  • Like I have friends

  • Help if I need it

  • Like I belong

  • Confident in his identity

Look at the packet (cartoon on front)

Examine the picture that shows Junior/Arnold’s attitude toward being Indian and how Indians are treated.


  • What is Junior/Arnold’s attitude toward being Indian and how Indians are treated?

*difference in clothing (White people dress better, other kids dress better.)

* Indians on the reservation are unhealthy. Dressing well and put-together vs. not caring. Arnold becomes his “white name” instead of Junior his tribal name. He feels split.

*White students seem to have a bright future, Native Americans seem to have a future on the reservation that is dark and lacks hope. He feels Native Americans don’t fit in and are put on a reservation.

*His confidence develops during his interactions with people in school (punching Roger in the nose, joining basketball team, getting up during practice, talks to a girl about bulimia and takes her to a dance, confronts his teacher about petrified wood).

*mistreated by girlfriend’s dad and threatened if he gets her pregnant

*treated well on the basketball team

*shunned on reservation because he attempts to find success

*Is the American Dream accessible for Native Americans?

There is more hope in the white school for Junior/Arnold.

Discussion Questions



  1. What do you think about the title? Do you think everything he says is “absolutely true?”

The truth may be stretched. Did he really walk 20 miles? Did he really ask the girl to go to the dance? Did all of those people die?

  1. Identity What does the author mean by the following quotation? “Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of a community.”

*Junior wants to belong wherever he is—in the “white” world and on the reservation.

*It is important for Junior to be known as an individual and a smart student at school.

How does it describe what most teenagers go through?

*some teens are perceived as reckless



*police may categorize teenage boys

Analyze Character Worksheet

Quote What it tells about Arnold?

I am zero on the rez. And if you subtract zero from zero, you still have zero” (16).


  • Arnold lacks self-confidence.

Reardan was the opposite of the rez. It was the opposite of my family. It was the opposite of me. I didn’t deserve to be there. I knew it; all of those kids knew it” (56).

Arnold feels uncomfortable in his own skin in school.

He felt out of place. He could regret changing schools. He feels like he doesn’t deserve a better opportunity because he is Indian and his community members do not get this opportunity.


I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other. It was like being Indian was my job, but it was only a part-time job” (118).

Arnold is divided (rez/Rearden) and is conscious of his race.

He feels white and Indian. He feels out of place (betrayed tribe). He has to put his heritage aside in school. (Part-time jobs don’t require all of your focus.)


I wanted to live up to expectations. I guess that’s what it comes down to. The power of expectations. And as they expected more of me, I expected more of myself” (180).

Everyone expects something of him—his tribe, parents, grandmother, school. He doesn’t want to disappoint them. The expectations have a positive influence on him. (Negative expectations also impact him—school, basketball, drunk Indians, stereotypes)

I realized that I might be a lonely Indian boy, but I was not alone in my loneliness. There were millions of other Americans who had left their birthplaces in search of a dream” (217).

He has an epiphany (awakening) that he has left his birthplace in search of a dream. He has a future of hope—not a vanishing past.

He has redefined his tribe—not limiting himself.



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