13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Fatalistic realities of Indian/white culture relationships,
By A Customer
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This review is from: Skins (Paperback)
Admittedly, I couldn't put the book down and read it in a week. Even thought the novel is a work of fiction, it hits closer to the truth about Rez born and raised Indians than any other novel that "mystifies" Indians in the "butterflies and daisies" sense. Fact of the matter is, Rez life is hard, damn hard. There are many casualties in this novel. First and foremost: the dishonor caused by CENTURIES of abuse and the systematic extermination of Indians have produced a culture of people who love hard, live hard, drink hard, die hard, and hate even harder. And, the central common theme...even to those who refuse to see it is the Indian's hate of the white man. Rudy clearly has little use for most of the everyday characters he comes across. He has disdain for most of his fellow Indian police officers, his Indian boss and his Indian friends. He has no respect for Indian drunks, and loathes how the economically oppressed culture has turned Indian kids into violent drug users and thugs with little respect and no hope. Socrates surmised "all questions lead to God". On the Rez, all ills lead to the white man.
This hate is the saddest legacy that American's have cultivated from the abuses that have, and CONTINUE to be bestowed upon the red man. Most whites in America are not deserved of this hate. I think it is puzzling to many white American's why Indians continue to hate them, even though many white people have never even met an Indian, and are totally unaware of the abuses that continue to happen at the hands of the government, or greedy entrepreneurs.
The last insult of the book that disturbed me the most, was the consciences crafting of hatred and callous death and destruction to the most despised Indians that exist to most western tribes, whites of mixed Cherokee ancestry. Eastern Cherokee have long been the butt of jokes, ridicule and downright hatred because of their light skin, and often-light hair. The cruelest person on the reservation was represented by Wally Trudeau, a mostly white / part Cherokee (of suspect origin, and married to a full blood from the Rez) who uncaringly allowed the death of Mogie's best friend, Weasel Bear, by catching him in a steel animal trap during a blizzard in his back yard.
Wally was unremorseful and un-pitying. And, seemed not to respect tribal authority, nor the life of Indians. Eventually, he was killed in cold blood for some other deserved slight to another Indian. You could almost imagine the collective cheering by full blooded Indians everywhere. Though it is essential to any story to have a foil, I think Mr. Adrian Louis was making another of his now famous, calculated statements. Most Indians on the Rez are drunks. Most men/women on the Rez will cheat on you and leave you one day...All true Indians are deep red skinned with braids and live on a Reservation (even his wife Vivianne, who was Chippawa, had skin too light for Rudy's tastes). All others indians need not apply. This is further bolstered in the fact that when Mogie dies, he goes to heaven, "and there was not a single white face there".