The whisper network of allegations surrounding Sherman Alexie became real when NPR published its story on Monday.
According to NPR its reporters spoke to 10 women, most anonymous, who said Alexie had abused his power as a preeminent author to lure them into uncomfortable sexual situations. They described experiences in which they expected mentorship or guidance and instead dealt with unwanted sexual advances.
Three prominent authors—Native writers Elissa Washuta and Erika Wurth and Jeanine Walker—spoke on the record.
Washuta told NPR Alexie said "he could have sex with me if he wanted to. But he used a stronger word, beginning with F," in front of a group of people. Wurth said he jumped across a coffee table to try to kiss her as she was leaving, then pressured her to have sex in a hotel room. Walker said Alexie tried to kiss her after a basketball game and told her she reminded him of his high school girlfriends.
I see some non-Native readers looking for recommendations of works by Native writers who aren't Sherman Alexie. It's honestly pretty tiring to fight for attention and only get it at times like these, but I'm willing to take the opening and make some recommendations:— Elissa Washuta (@elissawashuta) February 25, 2018
Alexie last week responded to the accusations that began circulating on Twitter.
“There are women telling the truth about my behavior and I have no recollection of physically or verbally threatening anybody or their careers. That would be completely out of character," he said Thursday. "I have made poor decisions and I am working hard to become a healthier man who makes healthier decisions. Again, I apologize to the people I have hurt. I am genuinely sorry.”
Accusations first began appearing on blog posts and social media, which eventually led to a university renaming a scholarship that had been named after Alexie. Native lit leader Debbie Reese posted an open letter about no longer promoting Alexie's work.
Listen to the interviews with the women here: