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Cast as autobiography, this is the story of a 19th century ""halfbreed,"" carried off as a child by Indians who kill her white trader father, then passed indifferently from band to band until her Chippewa grandmother finds her and raises her to marry Noka, the handsome young son of their chief. As a young mother she is kidnapped back to keep house for her white half brothers, returning the next spring to Noka who is later killed as a result of the brothers' brutal attempt to reclaim her. When her children are grown and the tribe, squeezed by white settlers, moves on again, she makes her own move at last -- a months-long solo canoe trip down the Mississippi (her son when appraised of her plan acknowledges that she's good with a paddle and a rifle but this is the first clue we've had) to marry a red bearded trader who has known her from childhood and who accepts her dual identity. Unlike similar tales of boys' seesaw lives and loyalties, there is less adventure and humor here than passive endurance. All we ever know about Maggie/Flying Bird is what happens to her, and her conflicting attachments are reported without depth or documentation. If told in the third person her story would be irredeemably stiff and dull; as it is the straight chronological telling and amateurish formality lend a documentary air.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 1974
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Morrow