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Pub Date: June 25th, 1980
Publisher: Dutton

Coming-of-age in the Minnesota wilderness, YA-Indian style and thoroughly routine--but decently told, with Clarkson's usual emphasis on animal life and chain-of-being conservationism. Ojibway youth Broken Knife must get food for his family; his father has been wounded by a band of enemy Dakotas. So out he goes into ""the over-hunted land""--killing a doe but seeking the big buck, while always fearing the roving Dakotas. Meanwhile, we follow the buck through the wild, as well as a starving lone wolf (the Dakotas decimated his pack) who attacks the Dakotas' horses and later must fight a death-duel with the leader of another wolf pack. Eventually, Broken Knife does come face to face with a Dakota: Painted Bear, who is wounded, stuck in a trap, freezing to death. But instead of killing the Dakota, Broken Knife gives in to tender feelings, frees Painted Bear, leaves him food. And finally, when Broken Knife slays the big buck but is then captured by Dakotas, his life is spared when he leads them to Painted Bear and passes a test of courage. Weak on characterization, strong on icy outdoor description--a well-meaning, minor little reprise of very familiar material.