Thursday, October 24, 2019

Red Dove: Listen to the Wind

Antaki, Sonia. Red Dove: Listen to the Wind
October 15th 2019 by One ELM Press
E ARC from

In the 1870s, Red Dove lives among the Lakota people. Her mother is Native, but her father was White, and she is often called Gray Eyes because she looks a little different. She also wants to hunt and behave in ways that aren't expected of girls during this time period. Her grandfather doesn't care about her background and is very supportive. He also gives her a pouch that he says will help her communicate with him when she is away. This proves important when one of the interpreters who often facilitates trades for the Lakota, Old Tom, shows up with a woman, Jerusha, they tell Red Dove's mother that both she and her brothers, Walks Alone, need to go to a school to learn White ways. Since food is very scarce, the two very reluctantly go. The nuns at the school, especially Sister Agatha, are very unforgiving, although some, like Sister Mary Rose, let Red Dove keep as much of her culture as they can and even share some of their own with her. Eventually, relations between the US and the Lakotas go badly wrong, and Red Dove leaves the school to find out the truth about her father.

Strengths: We certainly need more books about the Native experience all through US history, and this takes the side of the Native American, which is very rare. Lots of good details about the school and the way of life at this time.

Weaknesses: I was uncomfortable with the "magic" in this. I know that Deebie Reese often criticizes the use of mysticism when writing about Native cultures. Ms. Antaki saw my review on Goodreads, and very kindly contacted me about this aspect of the book.

She says: "I asked one of my trusted friends, Linda Six Feathers (Oglala Lakota Sioux, who wrote the introduction) for her thoughts. Here’s what she asked me to post: “As a traditional Native Lakota Sioux, I don’t consider my spiritual beliefs ‘magic’ or ‘mysticism’. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes in the lower 48 states and with all due respect, Debbie Reese is NambĂ© Pueblo, a Southern tribe and Red Dove is a girl from a Northern tribe. While there are similarities between the tribes, there are many, many differences. Only an active participating member of one’s particular tribal community can possibly know the practices. Additionally, Red Dove, Listen to the Wind is a book geared toward young people and while it has historical references, it is still a work of fiction.” The reality is that Native cultures are as multi-faceted and varied as those of Europeans. There is no single Indian, Indigenous or Native American culture, and no one person can legitimately speak for them all. My Goddaughter is Lakota, my friends are Lakota, and I tried to make "Red Dove" as specifically and authentically Lakota as I possibly could.

Since I did not have the cultural background to assess this book, I very much appreciate Ms. Antaki taking the time to inform me.

What I really think:A good purchase for collections that need historical fiction set during this time period.

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