One cannot argue with A.B. Guthrie, Jr. who writes in the foreword that the little known Paiute indians, though not great...

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SAND IN A WHIRLWIND: The Paiute War of 1860

One cannot argue with A.B. Guthrie, Jr. who writes in the foreword that the little known Paiute indians, though not great warriors nor possessed of a famous chief like Geronimo or Sitting Bull, nonetheless deserve to have ""their piece in the sad pattern of race against race"" told, which is what Egan aims to do. It is a familiar American tale of the West; only the names might be strange. Egan's fluent narrative, covering only the climactic years 1859-60, focuses on the events which forced the Paiutes, an amicable tribe settled in what was then the Utah Territory, to fight the invading and plundering white man. Led by their Chief, Numaga, as eloquent and fair-minded as the cycle of the seasons he venerated, the Paiute people mustered an amazingly adroit military campaign against the army volunteers -- at the Truckee River battle, for instance, the Indians turned their rabbit-drive hunting tactics on the white soldiers, herding them into a trap, clubbing them dead. That encounter, a turning point in the war, so terrified the whites that for a time work in the Comstock Lode was halted, the Pony Express ceased to run, and stagecoach service was suspended. Eventually they fought to a draw at Pinnacle Mount, Chief Numaga vowing ""we will fight no more, for as long as there are stars in the sky, if the white man keeps his promise."" There is a brief epilogue -- a sad commentary on the white man's word. Egan does not expand our consciousness of the white-Indian mythos so much as he reminds us of the narrow lineaments of the struggle.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1972