after Sherman Alexie
Your protagonist should be downtrodden, poor, preferably drunk.
He should wear blue jeans and talk about wearing blue jeans.
He must live on a reservation or the poor Indian section of a large city
and refer to it as the Urban Rez.
His hair should be black.
His eyes should be brown.
If your protagonist is a woman she must dance at powwows.
She must be strong and have long black hair.
She should have children but no husband.
She should wear blue jeans and talk about wearing blue jeans.
If your protagonist is a woman, she must evoke power at a pivotal point.
It should be mysterious and obscurely discussed.
Everyone should be at least part Cherokee.
Your protagonist must struggle with identity, especially if he is a man,
and come to a resolution by the end involving new-found power in his tribalized self.
This is especially effective if he dances at the end in a traditional way.
Fancy dance is preferred.
If your protagonist is not an alcoholic, a close friend or family member must be;
see: brother, father, best friend.
Bar scenes must include country-western music and blue jeans.
Everyone must drive either a truck, a dilapidated car, or a dilapidated truck.
There must be a love triangle. There may be a maximum
of only one white person in this love triangle.
Everyone else must be Indian and at least part Cherokee.
If a character is named for an ancestor or tribal leader,
s/he must evoke the power of that ancestor at a critical part of the story.
Ceremonies are preferred but not necessary.
These must also be mysterious and obscurely discussed.
Animal spirit guides should offer advice. Any clan-specific animal is acceptable.
Coyote should trick someone.
References must be made to treaties, government-rationed food, and the BIA.
Everyone must laugh bitterly at this.
Food must be consumed in large quantities in large gatherings
and small quantities in family settings. A joke should be made about this.
Everyone should call everyone else “cousin.”
Except white men. They should be called “white men.”
White men must disgrace Indian culture at some point,
preferably pan-Indian culture.
White men are not Indians. But they may try to be couriers of Indian culture.
They must do this inefficiently, showing their ignorance.
Boarding schools must be referenced.
Old ways should be found, new ways should be reconciled.
Hope should come at the end of the novel in the form of a baby or an open road,
dark-toned, part Cherokee.