MOON OF POPPING TREES by Rex Alan Smith

MOON OF POPPING TREES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A history of the 19th century battles between the Sioux and the white man that culminated at Wounded Knee--here whitewashed by the author's recourse to assertions of historical inevitability. Massacres and abrogations of treaty rights, described by Smith, are the responsibility of Indian agents who knew nothing about the Red Man, or a rare bloodthirsty cavalry officer, or a newspaper reporter making up sensational stories, or a general who got his faulty information second hand, or drunken Indian army scouts whose knowledge of the Sioux language was deficient, or ""sincere but uninformed would-be Indian benefactors"" like Henry Laurens Dawes, who bribed Indians with food to sign away their lands and rights. Later the bribe was withdrawn and the Indians given land which would have been an ""impossibility for the most experienced of white farmers."" (To the Indians, of course, farming was women's work; no allowance at all was made for the vast change in lifestyle forced on them.) To Smith, ""good intentions"" function as an adequate excuse for an often willful lack of intelligence: never did they more clearly pave the way to hell. As for Wounded Knee, there is simply no getting around the fact that the whites were restricting the Indians' freedom of movement, religion, and assemblage on their own lands, ultimately slaughtering several hundred people who were under Army escort to a federal fort. The author counsels forgetting past grievances (and dropping the Indians' legal claims!). Perhaps we shall soon be saying the same to the Vietnamese?

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1975
ISBN: 0803291205
Publisher: Reader's Digest Press--dist. by T. Y. Crowell