David Treuer’s Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life is a remarkable look into the heavily intricate reality of life on the reservation. Through personal anecdotes and history, Treuer reveals the many-sided influence and importance that the reservation has become to American Indian nations today.
The story began with a murder. We later hear bits and pieces of the investigation as an FBI agent is assigned to the case and occassionally harrasses Sissy because “everyone tells her everything.” The scenes leading up to this were great in setting up the mystery. However, much of the book ignores the murder.
Frank C. Busch's debut novel Grey Eyes begins with the darkness of winter, but also with the hope of spring. An old man shuffles through snow to greet a newborn. This boy, born with magical powers signified by the color of his eyes, is the focal point of Grey Eyes. However, the old man, Painted Turtle Man, is just as much a part of the story. These two characters take turns guiding the story.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Igbo) follows the life of a warrior in the Umuofia village of Nigeria in Africa. Okonkwo, as the warrior is called, is a man’s man. He’s the warrior that all want to be. He is feared. He is strong. He is a leader. However, he has a temper and a searing drive to become chief clan leader of Umuofia.
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese lays out a powerful story about childhood abuse in a Catholic boarding school and the trauma of racism in the life of many American Indians. The story follows Saul Indian Horse as he goes from the bush as a child to the confines of a boarding school. There at the boarding school, what you expect to happen happened. However, despite the allusions to sexual abuse and the outright descriptions of physical abuse, Saul found his way out of the mental anguish the school wrought on him by turning to the game of hockey.
In Louise Erdrich’s The Round House, this beginning line poignantly introduces the unraveling of a family by one evil act that was compounded by years of judicial abuse by the United States government. The Round House follows a thirteen year-old boy named Joe Coutts, the son of a mom who is a tribal records-keeper and a father who is a tribal judge. Joe attempts to juggle adolescence with the vicious sexual attack that scarred his mother physically and emotionally. Erdrich writes such visceral descriptions throughout The Round House that immediately draws the reader into the pain the family experiences.
Sherman Alexie’s Flight is a novel concerned with experience and history. The story is concerned with stepping in the shoes of others. The proverbial walking in another’s moccassins. Alexie doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities that history holds for Indians. He doesn’t justify the actions of evil men even if he humanizes them in the process of telling his story.
I've often wondered how things interconnect within this life we live.
Everyone knows it's a small world and that's a frequent saying when someone runs into another person they haven't seen in a while or discover some previously hidden connection between themselves. I've had many people I've come across in my life that have some sort of connection and story of a time they spent in Albuquerque during the time I was growing up in the city.