Any thoughts on the film Smoke Signals?

Best known as the first major Native American movie made by Native Americans I thought it had some interesting perspectives on Catholicism. One is where one of the main characters father Arnold (one of the most complex of the whole movie) talks about a group of Jesuits with scorn and makes reference to a battle of sorts between “the Christians and the Indians.” I’m trying really hard not to spoil the movie for the rest of you. Then there’s a scene where another character Thomas talks about Arnold’s ex-wife Irene’s famous fried bread which is used as Communion in their church. (Does this actually happen in reservations BTW?) And he says something like “fried bread walking on water, fried bread rising from the dead.”

Here’s some thoughts from the author Sherman Alexie “I grew up Catholic - my dad is very Catholic - and then I went to college in Spokane at a Jesuit university,” he said. “I still am heavily Catholic - and Christian-influenced. I write about what I am not what I want to be. A lot more (Indians) pretend to be more traditional and connected than they are. It’s been fun to see people try to understand (the film) through Native American spirituality.”

I’ve seen this movie twice, and feel as if I need to see it at least 2-3 more times to fully absorb it. It is a many-layered, deeply spiritual and phenomenally culturally rich film. I was so fascinated with the narrative, the character development, the outstanding acting (particulalry by the lead) and direction, as well as the poignancy of the whole experience, that I have not yet paid attention to Catholic references. The next time I see this film, I’ll be sure to do so.

I saw the movie as a kid several years back, so all I can remember is “John Wayne’s teeth” and thinking that the dead father shouldn’t have been honored. I’d probably have to watch it again to see why I thought that way.

I just found out actress Irene Bedard (Suzy Song in the movie) has suffured from domestic violence at the hands of her husband for years. I found the new senator of Alaska’s email and hope you will all send Ms. Murkowski a message regarding Irene and please remember her and her family in your prayers.

There is an update on this site from last month which reports that two Ohio politicians have responded with offers of help. What that help encompasses is unclear.

I will definitely be praying for her family.

Thanks for the update and your prayers Musicadmirer.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit