THE LAST WARRIOR by Peter MacDonald


Peter MacDonald and the Navajo Nation
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 The autobiography-cum-exoneration of MacDonald, once tribal chairman of the Navajo Nation, now a prisoner in a Navajo jail. At times, MacDonald (writing here with Schwarz, Walking with the Damned, 1992, etc.) skirts absurdity in his self- glorification: He is ``the Last Warrior...a man who feared neither scandal nor death,'' who ``adorned his body with the white man's battle dress--a three piece suit'' to defend his Navajo people. Once past the mock-epic palaver, however, a gritty story emerges of a man who left his mark both on his native culture and on the larger world before enemies (MacDonald's version) or greed (the court's version) did him in. Born in 1928, MacDonald passed his early years in a traditional Navajo home. After surviving Bureau of Indian Affairs schooling, he joined the Marines, spending WW II as one of the celebrated Navajo code- talkers. Electrical engineering followed, with a meteoric rise up the ranks at Hughes Aircraft. Having conquered the Anglo world, MacDonald returned to Navajo Nation and, in 1971, became its tribal chairman. His tenure was marked by fierce battles for Navajo autonomy--he campaigned for a native curriculum in schools and traditional practice at home, insisting that ``our children must learn to be totally Navajo''--during which he managed to stub the toes of radical Indians (AIM), conservative pro-Indian senators (Barry Goldwater), and the Hopis, whom he accuses of ``compromising their traditional values'' in land disputes with the Navajo. As MacDonald has it, ``lies'' and ``innuendo'' from his enemies--among whom he numbers the FBI and Peterson Zah, his successor as tribal chairman--led to his downfall on trumped-up charges. As a brief for MacDonald, too obviously slanted to be convincing; nonetheless, a powerful tale of ethnic awakening. (Sixteen-page b&w photo insert--not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1993
ISBN: 0-517-59323-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993


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