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Sherman Alexie was born a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian in 1966. He grew up on a Spokane Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, about 50 miles from Spokane.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, his first collection of short stories was awarded the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction, and was awarded a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award.
One of the short stories was then developed with a friend from NYU's film school, and became Smoke Signals, which won both the Audience Award and Filmmaker's Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998.
Later released through Miramax, it went on to win a Chrisopher Award.
In 1998 he defeated the World Heavyweight Poetry Champion, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and proceeded to win it for the next 3 years.
He also went on to do his first stand-up show in Seattle, and was then featured in the Vancouver International Comedy Festival opening gala in 1999.
He has also partaken in the Lehrer News Hour Dialogue on Race, with, at that time, President Clinton.