Sherman Alexie Net Worth 2022 – Salary, Income, Wife

Sherman Alexie Net Worth 

Sherman Alexie has an estimated net worth of $2 million. Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr. is an award-winning author whose works fall primarily into the genre of Native American literature. His works are characterized by themes dealing with the hardships of Native Americans: Alcoholism, violence, poverty, and despair. He earns most of his income from book royalties and movies. 

Known for his satirical voice and social critique of both modern tribal structure and contemporary American culture, Alexie is a weighty and often shocking voice of the Native American community.

Alexie writes what he calls “colonial literature,” which tends to depict themes of displacement, subjectivity, and alienation. Often the creation of Alexie’s characters involves the absence of one or both parents through death, poverty, or alcoholism because, as Alexie says, “Native Americans, [or] anyone who has been colonized, [finds themselves] in the position of an orphan.”

To calculate the net worth of Sherman Alexie, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Sherman Alexie
Net Worth: $2 Million
Monthly Salary: $30 Thousand
Annual Income: $700 Thousand
Source of Wealth: Writer, Novelist, Screenwriter, Poet, Film Director, Comedian

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Early Life

Born in 1966 in Wellpinit, Washington, Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene native, grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He was born with hydrocephalus, a condition commonly referred to as “water on the brain,” and underwent a risky surgery at six months of age that he was not expected to survive.

After the surgery, Alexie showed no signs of brain damage, but he suffered from debilitating seizures for years, was an outsider, and often had to endure the ridicule of his classmates because of his condition. He was already an avid reader at the age of three.

In 1981, Alexie began attending high school on his reservation, but after relentless bullying (his nose was broken six times), he eventually realized he would have to continue his education at nearby and prosperous Reardan High when he discovered that he and his mother were using the same textbook.

At Reardan, he faced further adversity when he learned that, except for the mascot, he was the only Native American in a school with wealthy white students. Part of Alexie’s inspiration for his cultural critique comes from his experiences at Reardan.

Referred to by his fellow students on the reservation as an apple “red on the outside, white on the inside,” Alexie became an outcast of his tribe at a young age. Nonetheless, Alexie graduated from Reardan High in 1984 after succeeding in school and playing on the first team basketball team.

After Reardan, Alexie attended Gonzaga University in Spokane and eventually transferred to Washington State University. He originally enrolled in medical school with the thought of becoming a doctor, but on the advice of his poetry teacher, he turned to writing instead and graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies.

Within two years of graduation, he was awarded both the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship and the Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship.


A year after his graduation, two of Alexie’s books of poetry, The Business of Fancydancing and I Would Steal Horses, were published. After struggling with a drinking problem for years, Alexie stopped as soon as he learned he was going to be published and has been sober ever since.

The Business of Fancydancing, published by Hanging Loose Press, was declared a notable book by the New York Times in 1992, and the poem “Distances” was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in 1993.

I Would Steal Horses was published in a limited edition chapbook by Slipstream Press. In poems such as “What the Orphan Inherits” and “Poverty of Mirrors,” Alexie weaves themes of alcoholism and alienation into a raw portrayal of contemporary life on the reservations. In 1993, Alexie’s poetry

Old Shirts and New Skins was published by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center and received rave reviews. Critic Kent Chadwick praised Alexie’s poetry, saying, “Sherman Alexie . . is the Jack Kerouac of reservation life, capturing its comedy, tragedy, and Crazy Horse dreams” (Chadwick 1). His book of poetry and short prose, First Indian on the Moon, won second place in the 1994 William Carlos Williams Award.

In 1993, his short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven was published by Atlantic Monthly Press and was subsequently published in Europe and Asia. It was his first international publication and won the PEN / Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction.

It deals with the portrayal of Native Americans in popular culture. “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” was included in The Best American Short Stories in 1994 and eventually made into a film under the title Smoke Signals.

In 1995, Alexie’s first novel, ReseRvation blues, was published by Atlantic Monthly Press and reissued by Warner Brothers Press in 1996 and Grove/Atlantic in 2005. Reservation Blues, an exploration of oral and musical traditions, is the story of Thomas-Builds-the-Fire, a young musician on the Spokane reservation who receives a guitar from the mysterious and eternally doomed Robert Johnson.

When Thomas-Builds-the-Fire meets Johnson, his mythical dance with the devil begins. Critics praised Alexie’s first novel, noting that he had “…found his place as one of the most gifted American writers working today.”

Reservation Blues has also been published in Europe and Asia, and has received several awards, including the Before Columbus Foundation’s 1996 American Book Award and the 1996 Murray Morgan Prize.

In addition, Alexie and longtime friend and collaborator Jim Boyd recorded a soundtrack that includes music by Jim Boyd based on songs from the novel and readings by Alexie. “Small World,” a song from the soundtrack, was also featured on the Honor the Earth Campaign benefit album and performed at the Honor the Earth Campaign benefit concert in 1996.

Also in 1996, Alexie published his second and most controversial novel, Indian killeR. Set in Seattle, Indian Killer tells the story of John Smith, an adopted Native American of unknown origin who struggles to find his place within the modern tribe.

As John’s story unfolds, a serial killer is haunting the streets of Seattle, murdering and ritually mutilating white men. As the search for the so-called Indian Killer begins, the central thematic question of the novel comes to the fore: Who is the “Indian Killer” truly harming? Though Indian Killer won the 1996 New York Times Notable Book of the Year prize, critics panned the novel as marred by excessive angst, one even referring to the author as “septic with his own unappeasable fury,” a quote that Alexie later had printed on a T-shirt that he proudly wears while playing basketball. 

Despite such unfavorable reviews, not the least by Alexie himself—who called it “a pile of crap novel”—Indian Killer met with enormous commercial success and is arguably Alexie’s best-known novel to date.

In 1998, Smoke Signals, the independent film based on Alexie’s short story, “What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” debuted. The moving story of two young men’s journey to collect the ashes of one’s estranged father in Phoenix, Arizona, Smoke Signals received much critical acclaim and marked Alexie’s first foray into screenwriting. 

A collaboration with independent film director Chris Eyre, the film won several awards at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, including the Filmmaker’s Trophy and the Audience Award.

From 1996 to 2005, Alexie has published six books of poetry including: Water Flowing Home, The Summer of Black Widows, The Man Who Loves Salmon, One Stick Song, Il Powwow Della Fine Del Mondo, and Dangerous Astronomy. 

Though poetry remains Alexie’s first love, he has also published two short story compilations, The Toughest Indian in the World and Ten Little Indians, and a screenplay for The Business of Fancydancing.

During the same time that the Smoke Signals project was gaining momentum, Alexie won his first World Heavyweight Poetry Bout competition in June 1998 in Taos, New Mexico, defeating then world champion Jimmy Santiago Baca. Alexie currently holds the record as the first and only poet to win for four consecutive years.

Alexie, known for his exceptional humor and candor during his live book readings, decided to try his hand at stand-up comedy in the late nineties. In April of 1999, Alexie made his comedic debut in Seattle at the Foolproof Northwest Comedy Festival and was a featured entertainer at the Vancou- ver International Comedy Festival in July of 1999.

Flight, Alexie’s first novel in a decade, is the story of an orphaned Indian named Zits who travels through time to search for his true identity while coping with his cultural displacement and feelings of abandonment. Zits survives his abusive foster-care childhood—unwanted because of his dark complexion and acne-scarred skin—by acting out violently. 

Published in April of 2007, the novel is a sustained exploration of identity in the absence of culture. Though it received some negative reviews, it has also been dubbed “funny . . . self-mocking . . . and inassimilable” by Joyce Carol Oates, and “raw and vital, often raucously funny” by Tom Barbash.

Also in 2007, Little, Brown published The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. Semi-autobiographical, the novel marks Alexie’s first venture into young adult literature. The story of wise-cracking tribal outcast Arnold “Junior” Spirit relates to Alexie’s own experience of growing up on a poor reservation and leaving in order to pursue a better education at a nearby, all-white high school. 

Arnold copes with the loss of his father to alcoholism, as well as the deaths of several close relatives while reconciling his own guilt for leaving his poor reservation in search of a more promising future. 

Told with Alexie’s characteristic brand of often poignant sarcasm, Absolutely True Diary has been nominated for nearly 20 awards for outstand- ing young adult fiction, including the New York Times Notable Children’s Book of the Year Award.

In 2009, Alexie published a book of poetry titled Face, and his latest collection of short fiction, War Dances, which broadens both his geographical and thematic scope.

Sherman Alexie continues to write prolifically and still pursues both stand-up comedy and screenwriting. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two sons.

Learn More: Top 30 Richest People In The World

Personal Life & Wife

He is married to Diane Tomhave and has two sons.

He is a founding Board Member of Longhouse Media, a non-profit organization that teaches filmmaking skills to Native American youths.

Sherman Alexi Quotes

We all know the Indians were colonized by the Europeans, but every colonized Indian has been colonized by the Indian reaction to colonization.


Don’t live up to your stereotypes.


I don’t know what any individual should do about crossing her own borders. I only know that I live a happier, more adventurous life, by crossing borders.


In the middle of the night, when you’re ambiguously ethnic, like me, when you’re brown, beige, mauve, siena, one of those lighter browns in the Crayola box. You have to be careful of the cops and robbers, because nobody’s quite sure what you are, but everybody has assumptions.


When you read a piece of writing that you admire, send a note of thanks to the author.


If I wasn’t writing poems I’d be washing my hands all the time.


Sixty percent of all Indians live in urban areas, but nobody’s writing about them. They’re really an underrepresented population, and the ironic thing is very, very few of those we call Native American writers actually grew up on reservations, and yet most of their work is about reservations.


You want the good life? You live where white people live, you go to school where white people go to school, and you shop where white people shop.


But the real interesting stuff is in the cellar and the attic.

View our larger collection of the best Sherman Alexi quotes.

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