Novelist, poet, and essayist Highwater (Myth and Sexuality, 1989, etc.) offers a dark, elegiac modern myth about a young Native American who, as a little boy, is torn from his roots and his true identity; this doomed and lonely protagonist later loses his cultured urban life and his identity as an artist because he falls into the murderous hands of a mysterious and ignorant people. ``My name is Sitko Ghost Horse.'' Numb and terrified, the young painter stands repeating his name before a tribunal of strange, primitive people. They accuse Sitko of breaking taboo by stumbling into their village during a sacred ceremony involving their children. Sitko must be a demon, they decide. While waiting for either a death sentence or his liberation, Sitko sits in a tiny prison cell, telling his life story to a big, warmhearted hermaphrodite named Patu. Patu is sacred in the tribe, a ``powerful woman'' who knows the secret of making pottery that breathes with life. Sitko tells Patu how he ran blind from a terrible ``sickness'' sweeping through the cities, stumbling into this village when he could run no more. His beautiful male lover, Eric, had wasted away from the sickness, and terrified people came and burned his loft and all his canvases. Long before reclaiming the name Sitko Ghost Horse, he was called ``Seymour Miller''--the adopted son of a man who hated him. Scarred by his memory of his true parents' abandonment--and by witnessing a brutal act of despair and revenge--Sitko Ghost Horse convinces Patu that he's fully human and not a demon. But will the pain he's endured or the beauty he's created persuade the stupid, evil old men who judge him? An original and arresting AIDS allegory, shot through with Native American insight and depth of feeling, but heavy with portentous images and self-seriousness.