A fiery, grim portrayal of the contest of wills over some of this country's most prized reservation territory.
Originally published in 1970, Abbott's historical novella brings to light the centuries-old conflict of territorial rights to the Black Hills of South Dakota, home to the widely-recognized landmarks Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower and Bear Butte, or what the Sioux refer to as Paha Sapa (literally, "the heart of everything that is"), sacred ground in a number of Native American traditions. Set mostly in the latter half of the 20th-century in a small, fictionalized Lakota town, the narrative seeks to expose the economic and racial challenges of reservation life by examining the interaction of a dozen or so rather unsavory characters from all walks of life. The sweeping sociology lesson in Native American afflictions–illustrated by the contrast between the upwardly mobile, power-seeking tribal leaders and the downward-spiraling criminally inclined poor–is rewarding in its own right. But what drives the story so compellingly is the fight for the Black Hills, 60 million acres of which were promised to the Sioux in 1851, reduced by two-thirds with the Treaty of Ft. Laramie in 1868, and then seized altogether in a new treaty enacted by Congress in 1877 upon Custer's discovery of gold. Abbott heightens the controversy–which continues to this day–by pitting those seeking to return the land to the Sioux against an invisible and malevolent enemy, HYDRA, a secret, elite society no doubt modeled on Marvel Comics' global-dominating villains of the same name. Though the narrative may lack technical sophistication, the captivating plot will engross and entertain.
Significant, engaging Native-American history, sprinkled with a bit of Ian Fleming, make for an entertaining and enlightening read.