September 10, 2006

Nonfiction Dances with Wolves

From the LA Times, 9/9/06:

Looking at Indian Wars with the present in mindA coffee-table book on the Indian Wars of 1854 to 1890?

Surely Michael Blake couldn't have had that in mind when he wrote his first nonfiction work, "Indian Yell," which is clearly intended to bring to a new generation the message of "Dances With Wolves." (Blake wrote the novel, then the screenplay for the Kevin Costner movie.) Loaded terms such as "insurgency" in the subtitle and "shock and awe" in a chapter heading link the current war in Iraq with America's earlier campaigns to impose its will by force and deceit on native peoples it didn't bother to understand.

"The 'greatest nation on Earth' … adopted the actions it took toward American Indians in the 19th century as a model of behavior toward people of different beliefs in the 20th century and beyond," Blake declares. After the fighting was over—and Blake doesn't hesitate to use the word "genocide," even when discussing the slaughter of the buffalo—the United States treated Native Americans with "aggressive and premeditated neglect," on the assumption that they would eventually "become extinct."

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