5 STAR REVIEW OF Louise Erdritch’s THE NIGHT WATCHMAN
Ms. Erdritch has always been my favorite Native American novelist. She has a talent for bringing to the page the vivid traditions and emotional lives of her people that–when not openly subject to ridicule or hatred–are simply hidden from many Americans. It’s high time native history was taught in schools along with the politics and warfare of later European immigrants, the era of Black slavery and emancipation, and the various injustices meted out to other immigrant groups.
In this semi-biographical novel, Ms. Edritch takes the reader back to the 1950s, a time when the government’s treaties regarding native people’s eternal land ownership were again under siege by spokespeople for their own and big business interests. A new Jim Crowe era, as Ms. Erdritch describes it. Her grandfather, a man who comes across as wholly admirable, selflessly resisted a Utah senator’s official attempt to (ex) terminate his culture and appropriate the land of his people.
Alongside the political message and the reminder of how little America has progressed in its policies regarding the first nations, Ms. Erdritch explores the daily lives of tribal women at that time–their arts, joys, hopes, and extreme jeopardy.
The writing is elegant and moving: the pervasive cold chills the reader’s bones, and her grandfather’s post-stroke visions of a great reversal are simply poetry.