Honored Enemy

Written by Culver Modisette
Review by B. N. Peacock

Culver Modisette’s novel presents a sympathetic story about real-life Indians. Quanah Parker is an Indian caught between two worlds and times: his father was Peta Nokona, a Commanche chief and his mother, Cynthia Parker, was a white child stolen by Peta Nokona himself.

In the novel, young Quanah’s secure world rapidly unravels. First, his tribe is attacked while the warriors are hunting buffalo and his mother unwillingly returned to her white family. Then his father is wounded in an attack on another Indian tribe and dies. Finally, Quanah must flee his tribe when his suit for a chief’s daughter is denied and the two elope. Yet his courage and leadership soon win him a tribe of his own. But is courage and resourcefulness enough?

When white settlers—backed by a government in Washington that conveniently ignores Indian treaties for the sake of profit—move westward in increasing numbers, slaughtering the buffalo, Quanah and his allies gallantly and fiercely fight back, even against the U.S Fourth Cavalry. Is their doom sealed or will Quanah find a surprising, and honorable, way out?

The settlers’ view balances the narrative, but since it occupies a large part of the book, it also weakens the case for the Indians. Still, Honored Enemy is a refreshing change from the usual shoot-’em-up Western.