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'Smoke Signals' scriptwriter to speak at Miami convocation

08/14/1998

OXFORD, Ohio -- Sherman Alexie, the Native American who wrote the script for Smoke Signals, the first Indian-produced, Indian-directed, Indian-written feature film in U.S. history, will address Miami's convocation at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24, in Millett Hall.

The convocation ties in with Miami's summer reading program for first-year students, who were asked to read Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven before arriving on campus.

The book is a series of 22 interlinked short stories focusing on contemporary life on Spokane Indian Reservation.

Immediately following the convocation, first-year students will meet in small groups to discuss the book informally with faculty, staff and undergraduate volunteers.

A poet, short-story author and filmmaker, Alexie was born on the Spokane reservation in 1966 and is a member of the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene tribe.

Picked as one of Granta magazine's 20 best American novelists under the age of 40 in 1996, he has published 10 volumes of essays, poetry and fiction. His public readings convey "the pain and joy of reservation life with equal amounts of vitriol and comedy," according to an article in Men's Journal.

The movie Smoke Signals, based on one of the stories from The Lone Ranger, won both the Audience Award and the Filmmaker's Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. His most recent novel, Indian Killer, will be filmed later this year, directed by Alexie himself.

Oxford's Princess Theatre has agreed to show Smoke Signals for at least one week beginning Aug. 21.

The university convocation is held the day before first-semester classes begin.

It is free and open to the public.

Alexie's speech marks the first of several events planned at Miami this year to highlight Native American culture.

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