Review by Viviane Crystal

Manifest Destiny in 1860s America is the policy of promoting ownership of Western lands, initially making treaties with Native American Indians and later breaking or ignoring those same treaties. Looking at one particular tribe, the author depicts the Lakota’s attempts to stop this incursion. What makes the struggle so poignant is the depiction of the Lakota tribe’s beautiful and powerful rituals and efforts to treat creation in a loving, reverential manner on a daily basis.

Takoda’s story begins with accidentally causing the death of his shaman father in a hunting expedition. Takoda also has gifts of perception that arise out of dreams and watching nature’s signals, but these gifts are marred by the guilt he carries after his father’s death. Nevertheless, he and his tribe battle trappers, hunters, migrants and politicians.

Senator Theodore Winthrop of Minnesota worships money and power. Holding both, he is determined to direct the creation of a railroad across the Western United States. The starkness of Indians who revere the land, juxtaposed with white men who “consume” the land, will intrigue readers, causing them to side with the Lakota even while knowing the eventual outcome of this microcosm of Indian-American civil war. Rather than being stereotypically one-sided, the reader will also meet decent, honorable military officers, soldiers and civilians who with the Lakota represent all that is noble and praiseworthy in the American West.

Adventure, passion, battles and verbal manipulation fill these pages alongside appreciation for the beauty of this unexplored, challenging land. Native is a great historical fiction read!