Following his successful debut novel Medicine River (1990), part-Cherokee author King (Native American Studies/Univ. of Minnesota) returns with a lively, engagingly loopy tale of modern Indians in Canada who are struggling to find their identity while still fighting white oppression. Lionel Red Dog is a disaffected Blackfoot on the eve of his 40th birthday; he sells televisions in a rural part of southern Alberta, but tells himself that one day he'll go back to college to get his Ph.D. like his uncle Eli. Meanwhile, his relationship with his girlfriend Alberta lacks certainty also, since he has to share her with his lawyer cousin Charlie, but she resists the mere mention of marriage, preferring to have a child by artificial insemination than be saddled with any man. Things begin to change on that fateful day, however, when Lionel and his aunt stop to pick up four ancient Indian hitchhikers who take an avid interest in him. As all paths converge on the reservation in time for Sun Dance, Lionel is brought back to his tribal roots by family and the powers-that-be, becoming a protector of the sacred ceremony, while Uncle Eli finally wins his one-man stand against the corporation that built a massive dam just upriver from his mother's log cabin- -with a little help from trickster Coyote, whose dancing summons an earthquake. Combining traditional storytelling methods, a multitude of Native voices, and a tireless, subtle wit that culminates in an elaborate joke honoring the Columbus Quincentennial, the result is both comic and disturbingly accurate in its depiction of Indian realities today. Eloquent and outrageous: a richly rewarding saga from a first- rate talent.