by Peter Matthiessen ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 1, 1982
A comprehensive and impassioned account of American Indian activist warriors: what they struggle for and why, what they and all Americans stand to lose. Matthiessen (The Snow Leopard, etc.) concentrates on the bloody shoot-out between FBI agents and Indians that took place June 26, 1975, on the Pine Ridge Reservation and ended in the execution of two wounded agents. Were they killed by Indian warriors Dine Butler and Bob Robideau, acquitted of murder charges in a Cedar Rapids court which heard evidence of FBI lies, set-ups, and coercion? Or by Indian activist Leonard Peltier, convicted of the same charges in a Fargo court which ruled most of his defense ""inadmissible"" and sent him to prison for two consecutive life terms? Matthiessen, who believes Peltier innocent, builds a persuasive case for a new and fair trial. But Peltier, a poor Indian turned activist, dogged by the FBI to violence, railroaded into prison, and apparently set up by the feds to be ""neutralized"" there, is only one example of what has been happening to Indians all along. Matthiessen sketches the historical trail of broken treaties and the dismal fate of Indian leaders--Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse--betrayed and bumped off by the prevailing system of institutionalized greed. He traces the rise in the late 1960s of the American Indian Movement (which wanted the US to honor its treaties: that is, give back the uranium rich Black Hills); the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee and the resultant trials of AIM leaders Russell Means and Dennis Banks; the betrayal (by FBI informers) and murder of one leader after another, culminating in the diastrous shoot-out. The bottom line, according to Matthiessen and the Indians he quotes profusely, is the land itself, precious to Indians, raped by strip mining corporations with the collaboration of Bureau of Indian Affairs puppet tribal governments and their enforcing goon squads. It's a complex tale and a grim one (fuller, here, than in Rex Weyler's recent Blood of the Land, p. 929)--compellingly told all the way.
Pub Date: March 1, 1982
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1982
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