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On the Rez Paperback – May 4, 2001
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Much of On the Rez revolves around Le War Lance, whom Frazier first met in Great Plains. This yarn-spinning, beer-swilling figure serves the author as a kind of Native American Virgil, introducing him to the hard facts of reservation life. In fact, their friendship, with its accents of deep affection and dependency, anchors the entire narrative and elicits some typically top-drawer prose:
Le's eyes can be merry and flat as a smile button, or deep and glittering with malice or slyness or something he knows and I never will. He is fifty-seven years old. I have seen his hair, which is black streaked with gray, when it was over two feet long and held with beaded ponytail holders a foot or so apart, and I have seen it much shorter, after he had shaved his head in mourning for a friend who had died.On the Rez delivers a history of the Oglala nation that spotlights our paleface population in some of its most shameful, backstabbing moments, as well as a quick tour through Indian America. The latter, to be honest, seems a little too conscientiously cooked up from primary sources and news clippings. But elsewhere Frazier is in superb form, reporting everything he sees and hears with enviable clarity and promptly pulling the rug out from under himself whenever he seems too omniscient. Few accounts of reservation life have been this comical; even fewer have moved beyond the poverty and pandemic drunk driving to discern actual, theological wickedness on the premises: "At such moments a sense of compound evil--the evil of the human heart, in league with the original darkness of this wild continent--curls around me like shoots of a fast-growing vine." In the hands of many a writer, the previous sentence might resemble a rhetorical firecracker. In Frazier's, it comes off as a statement of fact--which is only one of the reasons why every American, Native or not, should take a look at this sad, splendid, and surprisingly hopeful book. --James Marcus --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr Frazier makes you care about the people in this book. As he comes to know them better, so do you, the reader. I was sorry when the story stopped, which appears to happen largely because Mr Frazier had to stop writing sooner or later. But I do need to know: what happened to Le War Lance after the last page?
If you are a fan of Ian Frazier, or if you are interested in Native American issues, or history, or just like reading about interesting folks, you'll enjoy this book.
Mr. Frazier accomplishes what I find remarkable. He clearly is a great admirer of the tribes and individual members he writes of, but he also is brutally candid about these people who are his friends. The remarkable part is that you never sense he is judging their behavior, nor is he an apologist. He deftly mixes the history of this Country with a variety of Tribal Nations, and shows you the results. He destroys many misconceptions that exist, and makes very intuitive remarks about the future they may await these people.
If you have not already done so, I believe this book will act as a catalyst to read more about the history of these remarkable people, the opportunities that were lost, the crimes that were committed and are being addressed in Congress right now.
I live in the state that has the largest of the Casinos that many feel are providing all manner of solutions to a variety of tribes. The facts about these Casinos are a far cry from the perceptions that many people hold.
Wounded Knee and The Trail of Tears are not just words that make up titles of books. These places and events, the Presidents that governed at the time, and the President who sanctioned the largest mass execution in this Country's History will, in at least one instance shock you. I say, at least one, as one President's attitude is in keeping with his life-long conduct.
These Peoples were not exterminated, or to use the official Federal Government's word, "Terminated". They survived, and their numbers continue to grow, which alone is astonishing.Read more ›
Now, one wonders what Frazier was looking for when he set out on this years-long journey. Friendship? Kinship? Closeness with other men? I was confounded by his repeated attempts to ally himself with his Indian friends, particularly Le War Lance (a/k/a Leonard Thomas Walks Out--some Indians really do have cool last names just like we imagined as children). Le provides a narrative focus for the book, and we see him at his drifting, alcoholic worst throughout. He and his brother, Floyd John, spend their days doing things like travelling a hundred miles to find a spare part for their car, then spending the rest of the day tinkering with it and drinking Budweiser. One of the funniest scenes in the book is when Frazier, driving Le and Floyd John to a propane storage facility on some godforsaken errand, almost gets blown to bits when something goes wrong near one of the immense tanks.Read more ›
saw without remarking on whether what he saw, was in his opinion, good for the betterment
of the Oglala and the Pine Ridge Reservation.
I grew up very near a Sioux Reservation, but there was total separation between the Native
Americans and the 'town-folk.' I saw them walking along the road as Frazier descibes,
I saw them in town buying "fast-food" and liquor at the first of every month. I saw the abandoned
cars sitting along the highway - left where they quit- sometimes sitting there for many weeks before
they mysteriously disappeared. I saw the little children sitting on the curb on my small town Main Street
waiting for their parents to come out of the bars - (one full block at the end of Main Street was bars -
at least two of these catered mainly to the Native American population.)
I heard on a daily basis the negative remarks made by my community members - (my father
amongst the worst) about the people of the Reservation across the river.
Frazier gave me some insight as to what happens on
a daily basis on the reservation which was so close to me but might has well have been a foreign land.
However, contrary to his belief that life on the Reservations is not bleak, I found the book to show
a very bleak future for a group of people who seems to be waiting for someone or something
to fix their situation. They somehow seemed to see SuAnn as able to pull them up --
and when she died, they memorialized her and went back to waiting for someone or something
else.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A moving and intriguing discourse of North American history, sociology and psychology which centers around the Native American experience. Read morePublished 1 month ago by GuliverAgain
I love this book, as someone who has spent a fair amount of time on Pine Ridge Reservation this book does a good job of detailing not just that experience but also the bonds of... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Pamela Daniel
My brother married into the Navajo nation and lives on their rez in Arizona, and I spent a summer as a farmworker on the Nisqually rez in Washington state so I can truthfully... Read morePublished 12 months ago by S. Soloff
I found this rambling, navel-gazing, money-making volume in a public library Native American section which contained, as far as I could see, one book by a Native American-- Russell... Read morePublished 13 months ago by A Customer
A journalist aches to join - or, if not exactly 'join', at least be allowed to hang around for as long as possible - the Oglala Sioux. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Il'ja Rákoš
At the very least, reading this will provide people with insight into what goes on in such places and a good look at the lives of these people.Published 18 months ago by Wade E. Walsh
Frazier has written his experiences on Oglala Sioux Rez from
many viewpoints, although his heart is with the Sioux. Read more