Andersen seems unsure of how to offer this little historical footnote-and-variations--all about a renegade Indian band...

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MUCKALUCK

Andersen seems unsure of how to offer this little historical footnote-and-variations--all about a renegade Indian band holding off the U.S. cavalry in 1873. At the start, he makes a few weak passes at a comic-fiction style--with arch humor (""For a warrior who rose to be chief of his tribe, he sure started off on the wrong moccasin"") and a scene that tries hard to be madcap: the Muckaluck Indian clan of the Oregon territory, a benign tribe that doesn't have to be beaten twice to get the message, plays baseball with the ""yellowlegs"" (the cavalry). But he soon abandons the attempt in favor of a straightforward, fairly well-dramatized, but flat retelling of how the Muckalucks, pushed around by the U.S. government, finally did dirty back. Shunted away from their own land and onto the reservation of the hardly hospitable Cone Heads, the Muckalucks are starving but don't complain until the squeezing becomes intolerable. The first showdown between the Muckalucks and the cavalry comes on lava flats, a battle that the outnumbered Indians win with ease because they know the weird terrain so well. There are further assaults back and forth, bloody and valorous. . . but virtually no novelistic shape or texture. So, though offered as black-comedy in the Catch-22 mode, this is mostly just a military chronicle with some gussying-up and some easy pro-Indian sentiment--a passable combination for readers already strongly interested in the history of Native American struggles against paleface expansionism.

Pub Date: April 14, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980