SHADOW OF THE WOLF by Harry James Plumlee


An Apache Tale
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 A well-meaning if tepid debut, set during the waning years of Apache glory, about a medicine man who proves a threat to white designs for the Indians' containment. Based on the life of the historical Apache shaman Nakaidoklinni, the story opens with the healer as a young man, a member of a raiding party to Mexico. The raid successfully completed, the youth is a step closer to manhood in the tribe, but he diverges from the warrior's path when he has a vision in which a white wolf speaks to him, urging him to seek counsel with someone who can teach him about wolf power. A respected old medicine man takes him under his wing, training his apprentice in Apache ways of healing. White soldiers are becoming a permanent presence in rugged Apache country, restricting the Indians' movements and forcing them to abandon their Mexican raids. For a time the changes seem manageable, and the new shaman is able to marry, have a son, and gain the respect of his people, even traveling to Washington to meet President Grant as his band's representative. But as the Apache are increasingly forced to rely on US government rations, encouraged to turn against one another, and hunted down mercilessly if they refuse to submit to white authority, they begin to lose sight of who they are. In response to this bleak situation, Nakaidoklinni rallies his people with a hopeful vision of peaceful coexistence. He stages almost nonstop dances of healing to drive away the despair. Then the corrupt Indian agent, his stranglehold on the tribe threatened, persuades the Army to bring the shaman in for questioning. In the inevitable fight that ensues, both the man of hope and his movement are annihilated. A highly sympathetic view of the Apache way of life, but, since narrative concerns are sacrificed to details of tribal practice, the result is more interesting anthropology than compelling drama.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8061-2905-0
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1997


by E.L. Glenn