Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience ™
”In the Great American Indian novel, when it is finally written, all of the white people will be Indians and all of the Indians will be ghosts.” — Sherman Alexie, How to Write the Great American Indian Novel.
Welcome to your authentic Indian Experience™ is a brilliantly written, mind-bending short story by Rebecca Roanhorse. Through the many twists and turns, the story puts a looking glass over the damages that storytelling through a singular narrative causes. Roanhorse shows her readers just how undignified a story can become when cultural identity is made to cater to the will of others rather than to those to who the story belongs.
Jesse Turnblatt works at a virtual reality company that offers virtual experiences of native life for tourists. The experiences claim to be authentic, the most popular one being the vision quest, created based on tourists expectations formed by television and movies. When a new client insists on getting to know the real Jesse outside of his authentic identity in the virtual performance, Jesse realises his own need for friendship and shares his real self with this stranger.
”What Theresa doesn’t understand is that Tourists don’t want a real Indian experience. They want what they see in the movies, and who can blame them? Movie Indians are terrific! So you watch the same movies the Tourists do, until John Dunbar becomes your spirit animal and Stands with Fists your best girl. You memorise Johnny Depp’s lines from The Lone Ranger and hang a picture of Iron Eyes Cody in your work locker. For a while you are really into Dustin Hoffman’s Little Big Man.” – Rebecca Roanhorse.
I personally love fiction that takes me to a place I could not foresee while reading it. There is no other way to describe Welcome to your authentic Indian Experience™ other than phenomenal.
Rebecca Roanhorse(1971) is the author of five novels and numerous short stories. She writes mainly speculative fiction and is an NYT bestselling author. Her writing has been awarded with the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Awards, amongst others. She has also written for Marvel Comics and television with projects optioned by Amazon Studios and Netflix. Her next novel, Fevered Star, comes out in 2022.
Read the story in full in Apex magazine.