Top positive review
57 people found this helpful
Awakened me to the beauty & tragedy of Native American hstry
on May 31, 2001
I read this book for a summer class, and was therefore under a strict time constraint. Had I read it more leisurely, I may well have dropped the book as too much work for a casual read.
I'm very, very glad I stuck with it.
At first, the book's use of Pikuni concepts to describe common objects like the sun, moon, and animals is a bit disconcerting: the extra layer of decoding can be daunting, and I'm still not sure what a couple of the animals were supposed to be (I'm from New York, and plead ignorance regarding Western wildlife). However, a third of the way into the book I found myself hooked, and found that language decision to have been an effective means of drawing me into the characters and situations.
Other reviews address the historical context of the book. Look at [the internet] to get an idea of the events this book will cover, with more or less detailed attention to historical accuracy.
I came at it from a perspective of empathy and entertainment. The title character is very human, and rife with embarassing little secrets that allow us to identify with his struggles. Other characters are particularly human, and demonstrate the negative effects of bottling up secrets versus the positive side of sharing them and facing one's failings.
I suppose this review doesn't make sense without having read the book, which makes it a failure as a review. Well, here are some positive aspects of the book: Visceral confrontations will make your heart pound; Conflicting perspectives of 19th-century Euro-American western expansion will make your head pound; The cruelty of individuals among both the Pikuni and the Napikwan (whites) will make your heart ache.
If you find Native American culture at all fascinating, read this book. If you don't know a whit about Native American culture, read this book. If you've been turned off to Native American culture due to your school system's inadeqate handling of their perspective, read this book.