I Am Apache

Written by Tanya Landman
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

After Mexican raiders murder her four-year-old brother, teen-aged Siki turns from a traditional woman’s path to begin her training as a warrior of her Southwest Apache tribe. But the 19th century is progressing with a vengeance through the time-honored ways of her beloved people, with the white-eyed soldiers of the Americans encroaching.

As Siki endures her trials, she is haunted by the mystery surrounding her father’s last days with the band. Did he die a dishonorable death? She has visions of him, the past, and the future that she struggles to understand. Are the People watching to see if she too will betray the tribe? She has an envious opponent in the proud fellow warrior, Keste, but also a beloved teacher and friend in the band’s greatest warrior, the grief-ravaged, fellow visionary, Golahka.

At times, the language of I Am Apache seemed too self-consciously poetic. Occasionally the viewpoint, as in animals being described as “brute and stubborn, with no sense and little feelings” seemed more European than native-based. But this infinitely sad story is touched with the grace and beauty of its setting and wonderful characterizations. Told with both an eye toward its action-adventure plotline and the complexities of a warrior’s life and the consequences of revenge, Landman’s tale haunts.