Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Book & Author

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

A fictional portrait of the characters, themes, and language of the Spokane Indian Reservation.

The author depicts with fierce determination all the elements of modern Native American life, from basketball and  alcoholism to powwows and  the unexplained deaths of insignificant people. – Publishers Weekly

Sherman Alexie

A Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, Alexie grew up in Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation.  Alexie has been an urban Indian since 1994 and lives in Seattle with his family.

Get to know what Alexie thinks about reservations, alcoholism and Chief Wahoo in this video from Time:

Quote from the book:

Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don’t wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is.


Topics the book will bring up for discussion include:

  • The relationship that the characters have with their cultural and spiritual traditions.  Is there a place for tradition in modern life?
  • Several of the stories depict young Native American men with a longing to be warriors.  What fuels these desires?  Are they common to all men?
  • Alexie calls humor “an antiseptic that cleaned out the deepest personal wounds.”  What role does humor play in these stories?

More questions are available from Grove Atlantic


One of the most iconic Native American foods is frybread.    Sherman Alexie has been quoted as saying “Frybread is the story of our survival”.   And in his movie, “Smoke Signals” one of the characters wears a shirt that says “Frybread Power” on it.   This website has several recipes for different types of traditional frybread.

Your group may also want to want some or all of the Smoke Signals movie.  Alexie wrote the screenplay for it and it is based on one of the stories from The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven–This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona.


Have you or your group read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven?  Would you recommend it to other groups?  Share your thoughts by commenting on this post.