SHAMAN'S DAUGHTER by Nan F. & Rosamond M. Vanderburgh Salerno


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Within the current heaps of American-Indian fiction there seems to be no middle ground between the thumb-screw authenticities of Hanta Yo and the glossy wampum of treatments like this--the tale of an Ojibwa woman in Ontario from 1897-1965, heavy with the trinkets and artifacts, but not the flavor, of Indian culture. Supaya, daughter of the shaman, Jules, is granted a pre-puberty-rite vision--a dream of the Great Bear who will be her guardian. And life is good, in spite of the overbearing attentions of the ferociously Christian minister who tries to stamp out ""pagan"" ways. After all, Supaya has cousin Kineu (whose ""boyish features were finely cut""), with whom she plans to live forever (""Kineu, there can never, never be anyone else""). But Jules owes a debt to the fierce shaman Wenonga Red Sky; and Supaya, pregnant by Kineu and miserable, dutifully goes with Wenonga to another reservation to marry his son Eli, who is handsome but weak and ruined by white education and liquor. Supaya suffers a miscarriage and the random cruelties of Eli--who will die in a fight with a bear (yes, a Great one). True, Kineu arrives, and the pair are happy for awhile (though Wenonga's guardian, a huge White Dog, circles Kineu in dreams)--but Kineu is changed after fighting in World War I and eventually he will disappear with one son, who dies. So Supaya will choose to marry white storekeeper Jesse Fallan, continuing her life of healing the sick, running errands of mercy, securing both Indian and white friends. And finally, in 1965, the old widow Supaya assembles her ancient religious talismans, buries them, and greets the Great Bear for all eternity. Undistinguished and undemanding--a passable pow-wow for those readers partial to Indian suds but turned off by Hanta Yo scholarship.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1980
Publisher: Prentice-Hall