The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder’s Journey Through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows by Kent Nerburn

I love stories about Native American Indians, always believing I had at least one life in an American southwest tribe. Nerburn’s story is a fictionalized account based on real events that captures the attention of the reader as we learn the plight of Indians today fighting to accept the horrors of their past.

An Indian elder, Dan, searches for a sister lost years earlier at one of the government schools set up to educate the youngsters, which meant brainwashing them to lose and forget their traditional ways. I found the story fascinating even if the ending of the story seemed contrived, and I learned much and was caught in the emotion of the lessons.

The Indian elder tells us to help the children and provide them a healthier way of life:

The way we are living today is not good for them. It takes the light from their eyes, because it does not teach them to see the spirit in all of life. It takes away their connection to everything else. It does not allow them to see the part they play in creation… They are not taught that they have an important role to play just where they are, and that it is they alone who can fill that role.

He also reminds us to listen. This seems so trite until we look at our own lives – are we listening to the world around us or are we too busy in our hectic lives to pay attention to others and our surroundings? Another idea, again one that is so simple, is the idea of sharing. Native Americans and other indigenous peoples know that those that “have” share with those that don’t, not a complicated lesson but one that often seems lost in our world of the very wealthy getting richer while the poor continue to suffer. This is not a political argument but a humanitarian one.

This is a story of a history we love to forget – the history that reveals our dark side in the treatment of American Indians. It is a good thing to recall, not just so we suffer through the agonies that they endured but because we must always remember who we are and what we did in the name of progress and civilization. If you are not American, you have your own tales, and many involve exploitation of weaker, poorer, or less fortunate peoples. What will be revealed when history looks back on our era, what wrongs will be exposed in each country? While there are obvious examples occurring in the world now, what are those stories that don’t seem important or are hidden? What are those shadow incidents that will eventually be discovered? This is not a condemnation of anyone, any group, or any country, simply an understanding of the steps in our human and spiritual evolution.

Hundred in the Hand Reviewed

Book Review: Hundred in the Hand: A Novel by Joseph M. Marshall III

When the English came to the shores of America, the power that they received came at the cost of the original inhabitants of the land, the Red Indians. Over the years many books have been compiled about the Red Indians and the “white skinned people” who so rudely snatched away their land but the problem with these books is the fact that all those who wrote them belonged to the latter category. Therefore a touch of partiality towards the latter will creep in giving us a one sided history of the events that unfolded.

Hundred in the Hand written by Joseph gives us the opportunity to listen to the voice from the other side. Being Lakota Sioux himself, this book is fiction yet it contains the roots and history of his people. This tale, centered on the war of the book’s title “Hundred in the Hand” (aka The Fetterman Massacre of 1866) is told from the Lakota Sioux point of view. It is most certainly a dramatic departure from the usual interpretation of scripted American history.

The author incorporates references to the Lakota culture, both spiritual and social as well as dozens of everyday examples of military, hunting and tribal relationships. One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is its characters who are presented in a manner that are easy to associate with. The protagonists of the story go through all the phases that anyone would do if they were put in very harsh situations, his people fall in love, get hurt in battle, and inevitably they die.

I found the book very educational and although it is a fiction, it was in some ways more illuminating than the non fictional stories on the same topic of wars between Red Indians and their conquerors. Hundred in the hand is quite a good read and does slightly open up previously unheard suppressed voices.

Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

I don’t usually read fantasy novels, but I’m glad I made an exception here; I loved the story. A Druid lives in Arizona, pretending to be twenty-one years old, while he is actually twenty-one centuries old. He is threatened by witches and assisted by werewolves, all of whom also appear, on the surface, as normal people. He meets otherworldly creatures who help him in his fight against the evil Celtic god.

I always want more than just a good story, however. The Druid’s connection to the earth and use of energy provide that. The Druid draws his energy from the earth, a reminder of our separation from nature in this technological world. We see the importance of understanding the use of energy in his actions and how we have lost the connection to our environment and our bodies. The author is subtly teaching us. I like that.

The violence, which is so prevalent in many stories, and in our world, is more acceptable here as it is directed only to defend good, an important distinction. I like the Druid. He is a good guy and the reader begins to care about him, laughing at his sense of humor and appreciating his humility. Despite his abilities of shape-shifting and attracting enormous energy from the earth, he is never arrogant or self-assured, a refreshing respite from many characters, both fictional and real.

I look to getting drawn back into this Druid’s exciting, crazy, moral and funny world in his next two books in the series.