A sober and sobering testimonial about the devastating consequences of the United States government’s broken promises to the Native American community.
Former North Dakota Sen. Dorgan (Reckless!: How Debt, Deregulation, and Dark Money Nearly Bankrupted America (And How We Can Fix It!), 2009, etc.) continues his post-office advocacy work with this grim exposé. The central figure is Tamara, a young woman from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Her biography distills hundreds of years of institutional dishonesty, incompetence, and malevolence, which have left the Native American community’s well-being far behind that of other American demographics. Dorgan first encountered Tamara through a newspaper story in 1990. Her parents were abusive alcoholics, and at age 2, she was placed in a foster home where she was beaten nearly to death. The author launched an investigation into the reservation’s child welfare system, which yielded alarming facts but left much work still to be done. This book, he explicitly hopes, will inspire readers to action. Dorgan gradually reveals Tamara’s story, which exemplifies many of the most pressing concerns confronting Native Americans. Each phase of her life becomes an intimate entrance point by which to analyze a particular systemic failing. The author looks into the history and current state of issues, including child welfare, health care, education, and justice. He details problems like generational trauma, environmental degradation, and land theft while highlighting leadership within the community and offering recommendations for a brighter future. The text is well organized, balancing personal anecdotes with history and hard data. Many of the statistics, though, lack citations that would further bolster the author’s credibility among skeptics. Dorgan confronts difficult realities with unblinking sensitivity and an infusion of hope. Policy change is his undisguised intention, so the authorial voice is that of a politician persuading his constituency.
Simultaneously appalling and optimistic, this book will enlist many sympathetic readers to the cause of Native rights.