In a portion about the forced removal of children from their families to place them in Indian Boarding Schools (which were mostly shut down by 2007), Rick Overlooking Horse and You Choose Watson are caught running to escape the Bureau of Indian Affairs officers who are chasing them. Another boy is caught along with Rick and You Choose--Billy Mills, the fasted kid on the Rez, but even he is not fast enough to escape.
A paragraph or so later, there is a mention of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and an announcer is shouting: "Look at Mills! Look at Mills!" Billy Mills couldn't run fast enough to escape the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but he eventually won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics--for real.
It is this mixture of real people and real events along with the fictional stories of Rick Overlooking Horse, You Choose Watson, Squanto, and Le-a Brings Plenty that gives the novel a quiet authority.
The problems and history of life on the Rez are not avoided or minimized, but they are not treated in the way one would expect. The problems are part of the story and part of the characters who inhabit the novel.
From early on, Fuller makes a point of how many Indians have filled the ranks of the military over the years from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and through Desert Storm. Squanto, during Desert Storm has reason to remember what Rick Overlooking Horse has told him:
"Remember this: There will be nothing to signal the start of your war. There will be nothing to signal its end. There's just your war. Only you will know it when it has started, and only you can choose when it will end."
The novel shifts from character to character and from event to event, and I loved Fuller's prose which kept me engaged the entire time. I've pondered this review for the last ten days or so and find myself unable to genuinely relate how good I think the book is. I've written entire paragraphs and deleted them. For infinitely better and more thorough reviews, check out Sam and Nancy's reviews on Goodreads.
In a flashback at the end of the book, Rick Overlooking Horse has been telling the "wonderful, terrible tales of how the whole world came to be," to young Daniel and Jerusalem Brings Plenty and Jerusalem asks, "how does it end?"
The old man replies, "It ends well. It doesn't end soon, but it ends well. All of it."
Don't miss this one.
Native American/Social Commentary. June 27, 2017. Print length: 288 pages.