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Holding Stone Hands: On the Trail of the Cheyenne Exodus Hardcover – August 1, 1999

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a gracefully written and compassionate account of his return to a dark page in this country's past, Boye, who is white, relates one of the most poignant, if largely forgotten, tragedies of Native American dispossession in the 19th century. In 1878, some 300 Northern Cheyenne Indians, under the leadership of Dull Knife and Little Wolf, fled starvation and disease on an Oklahoma reservation in an attempt to return to their Montana homeland. Pursued by soldiers in running battles for more than 1000 miles, the Indians split into two bands, terrorizing settlers along the way with retaliatory rape and murder. When Dull Knife's band was finally captured near the South Dakota border, he resolved to defy the army's order to return to Oklahoma. Knowing that they faced certain death, the Cheyenne escaped again late one winter night; in the brutal fight that ensued, nearly half the band, mostly women and children, perished. Because of their determination, the survivors of the second band eventually received a reservation of their own in Montana. Boye greatly enriches this story by describing his own hardships retracing the exodus through a starkly beautiful landscape, accompanied by descendants of the surviving Cheyenne. Never mawkish or patronizing, Boye recognizes early on that both journeys belong more to his companions than to himself. By reaching back and touching the suffering of their ancestors, they begin what Native Americans call "a healing," a reconciliation of the past with the present. Sam Spotted Elk Jr., who took the journey with Boye, aptly sums up the tribal spirit that transcends generations: "What we leave behind is what the children pick up from us and carry with them." (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A noteworthy mix of Native American history and memoir. In the aftermath of Little Big Horn, many Northern Cheyenne Indians were removed from Montana to Oklahoma, far from their ancestral territory. Beset by illness, famine, poverty, and corruption on the part of the government officials who oversaw their reservation, a band of 300 Cheyenne under Chief Dull Knife fled the reservation in 1878 and journeyed more than a thousand miles across the high plains to return to Montana; the federal government declared them to be renegades and sent thousands of soldiers to return them. In 1995 Boye, a professor of English at Lydon State College in Vermont, joined three of Dull Knifes descendants in a journey retracing the Cheyennes difficult road home. Boye is forthright about his reasons for undertaking the trip; when his brother remarks, Theres got to be an easier way to get a feel for history than walking a thousand miles, Boye admits, Even with the best of luck, I have less than half my life remaining, and I am dulled into believing that the safety of modern life will insulate me from the enormity of time. Boye and his Cheyenne friends are anything but insulated in their arduous trek; weather-beaten and exhausted, they nonetheless attract (mostly) friendly attention wherever they travel. Boye has a light, winning style, even when hes writing about matters of the utmost seriousness; he introduces and explains complex points of history and anthropology with admirable ease. His prose often attains moments of real beauty, too, as when he writes, All of us are haunted by ghosts, and to try and keep still the fear of their haunting is an endless task. Perhaps our lives are nothing more than a series of exorcisms, a series of delicate dances with the specters of the past. A true contribution to the literature of the Northern Cheyenne past. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 347 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; First Edition edition (August 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803212941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803212947
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #919,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on September 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a story of heartache and strength, of hope and struggle...it is the story of a man's love of the land and a people's fight to keep their homeland. Boye is a gifted and talented writer whose words flow as he leads us from page to page, back into the past and then gently into the present. He is a writer that truly cares about his story and the people that inhabit it. He opens his heart and the words come tumbling out. A wonderful MUST READ for all nature lovers and history buffs.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a magical walk through a dark time in American History...Alan's own experiences are so materfully intertwined with history on this voyage, the past truly comes alive as you feel every step and face every fear. With each step, with every encounter along the way, you can feel the ghosts of the Cheyenne people walking in your own shadow. Make no mistake, HOLDING STONE HANDS is a Masterpiece...you'll feel the pain of endless walking, the anger for what the Cheyenne people were forced to endure, and the sorrow for the pointless death as they tried to make their way to the only land they would ever call home.
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By A Customer on August 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alan Boye has written a stunning book on an obscure piece of Americana that will charm, amuse, and anger you. It will also touch your heart, and not only because of what happened to the Cheyennes 120 years ago, but also because of the people Boye meets on this journey and his--and your--reaction to them.
If you're willing to take this walk, by the middle of it what Boye has been experiencing and relating to you will gently and subtly make you more aware of the world and your place in it. By the end of the walk and the book, you will have shared with Boye and his Cheyenne friends their humanity and yours will be the better for it.
That's a big bite for a book on a singluar event in Cheyenne history, which most of us know little or nothing about. I'm not sure how Boye did it. Probably he used skill, tact, wit, and humanity. That's probably all it took, but it was enough.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not much for history as it is taught in our schools, but this book is great. It is a perfect blend of history, present day (in the form of the author's trip), and thoughts and stories from the author's personal life.
I recommend this tome to anyone that likes travel stories. Especially if you dont know, or want to know more about, the Cheyenne Exodus. Expensive, but worth the money.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As my title states, this is a very powerful book. Mr. Boye walked the trail that the Cheyennes travelled in their tragic journey to get back home (from Oklahoma to Montana). Along the way the author meets up with two Cheyenne men who travel with him for the better part of the journey. When they leave he meets a mid-20s Japanese man who travels with him for a while. Why is this Japanese man touring the American West? Read the book to find out. Despite my praise for this book, my rating is a 4.5 out of 5. Why? I will give two examples (not that there are many more):
1 - On p. 225 he states that hundreds of Indians were killed at the Battle of the Blue Water (the number was about 86 and his own source--Utley, Frontiersmen in Blue--states 85).
2 - Following Little Wolf's capture his followers shortly after became scouts for General Miles to fight the Sioux. Boye only mentions his surrender. He should have gone on to include this important detail.

Having said that, the book is still a very good read and I really enjoyed his journey and his dramatic retelling of the Cheyennes' escape from Fort Robinson. I would like to know more about the film made by some Cheyennes as mentioned in the book. Final verdict: Recommended.
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