Thursday, July 26, 2012

Native American's Lives Portrayed in Early Times Great Read!

Nez Perce warrior on horse, 1910.
"Black Raven took her baby from his hands; then sheremoved the rabbit skins revealing the mark. The grandfather stared long and hard at the mark; then looking up at Black Raven he whispered. "It is a mark of a wolf. Black Raven then told him about the mother and child, who had been banished from their camp for the same mark. She told him that because of the mark, Q'ull-Q'ull would not name the child.
"So that is why my son must find this spirit man for a name...
"The Ya-Ha-Tinda Mountains were feared by all the tribes, it was saturated in deep taboos, impregnated with stories of evil spirits that took the form of wolves, and roamed only the highest stretches of the mountains. It was said that animals of stone walked the earth nearest the sun. To ride above the timberline was instant death..."

Nez Perce warrior on horse, 1910. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Society of Wolves

By Robert E. McHaney

Far in the past before America was fully colonized, most of the west was the hunting grounds of Native Americans...They believed that the land, the waters--the earth did not belong to anybody, that it was for the benefit of all... As we all know, the people who first landed on our shores were there representing governments from overseas or those people who had fled from their countries to find land they could claim for their homes and communities.

And as they moved from the east to the west, those lands normally hunting grounds for those that lived here before any of us, were stolen or, worse, the Indians were killed defending that land.

It has always intrigued me that people felt they had a right to do this. Obviously, the Indians did not accept those who moved further and further across the lands, and, sometimes, special people were born, chosen, to act on their behalf. Gray Wolf, ancestor to Crazy Horse could have been one of those!

Fiction based upon historical research and facts has a growing interest to me. This fast-paced, thriller is exciting, terrifying and also disturbing--especially knowing that it is based on fact to a great extent. I believe this book will be of interest to not only those who are interested in reading historical novels, but those who enjoy action/adventure thrillers. This novel is highly recommended.

Iron Belt and Black Raven were the parents of Gray Wolf. He was a beautiful boy but he had been born with a mark that looked like a wolf! Q'ull-Q'ull was supposed to decide the child's name, but he knew Iron Belt would kill him if he went against him in any way. Besides, when he accepted the baby in his arms, he experienced a "shocking and frightening reaction. It was as if he was holding a small animal..." He quickly wangled out of it by referring Iron Belt to the great shaman who lived on Ya-Ha-Tinda. At least Iron Belt was relieved that he wouldn't to take action against a man of his tribe, but now had to try to find this shaman. A long, dangerous trip into land that was considered taboo...

The Shaman had been expecting him...and the name Gray Wolf was given... A name that meant much more than anybody knew except the shaman...and the boy as he began his training as a warrior...

I was somewhat disheartened that there were wars between tribes but the author spends time for readers to settle in and learn about the lives of members of various tribes--mostly hating each other and killing...Guess we humans are all alike! Anyway, soon the settlers started moving close to the Oglala Tribe's, most commonly known today as Sioux, land used for Buffalo hunting...

Gray Wolf had grown into a man who was both feared and respected by tribe members and when his father is killed, he is asked to become one of the chiefs and specifically to fill his father's place and to prepare for the coming of the white man. At that time, he chose 20 of the finest braves and, instead of going out to scout, took all of them into the forest. There he trained them, and when they came back, all wore the headdress of a wolf...they sat tall and serious on their horses and everybody knew that they were ready! They called themselves The Society of Wolves and their reputation soon spread to both other tribes and the white men.

I enjoyed the inclusion of a trapper Murdoch who became Gray Wolf's friend and blood brother as well as the relationship of both of these men with the women who they ultimately married. I also found the portrayal of ranking officers in the military an interesting choice--most of them power hungry and totally uninterested in trying to negotiate some type of relationship with the Indians as anything more than scouts...

But when they met The Society of Wolves, only one thing happened. Gray Wolf led his men to victory...quite cunningly in fact! Of course I don't know how much of the story is factual, but I have to say that I learned much about the culture of our early Native Americans. The story of their lives rang true and we do know that there were many wars...We also learned the reason why, perhaps, Crazy Horse became such a great chief! Was he also born with the mark of the wolf? We learn his father, Ghost Wolf also became a member of the Society of Wolves...Only his name makes me think differently and I admit that I looked up Crazy Horse and read contradictory information since Crazy Horse was also his father's name (although his Indian name was Cha-O-Ha ("In the Wilderness" or "Among the Trees") which in many ways supports the book's story...

But you know what, no matter whether the underlying history is not correct, I think the author has done a wonderful job in hypothesizing those early days in American history.I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though some parts are gruesomely detailed! Albeit adding to the reality of it all...


Author Robert E. McHaney  was a corporal, a soldier during the Battle of the Bulge. Decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the French Medal of Honor, a Bronze Star, Two Purple Hearts, Combat Infantry Badge, and Legion of Honor. 

He also wrote I'll Fight But Not Surrender, which tells the story by one who was there. It vividly brings to light the horrors of World War II, by a soldier who faced death almost every day. This is a story of tough young men from the rough side of East Los Angeles, who were thrown into the cauldron of war. Of the fifteen original members of Dolphin Company, First Platoon, Second Squad, who landed in Oran, North Africa, only three survived the battles of World War II.

The Second Squad often asked, "Are we all going to die before this war is over?" The tour of duty in World War II was, "For the duration." Superb combat units such as Dolphin Company served for years, not months of combat. "When a soldier is wounded they sewed you up, and he is returned back to combat to bleed some more!" 

Stories like I'll Fight But Not Surrender are needed today to tell us who sacrificed themselves to establish freedom in the world. These WWII warriors are vanishing before our eyes, but thanks to books like these, we will have the precise knowledge of why they killed and died...

Corporal Robert E. McHaney
So, too, do we now have a history of those Native Americans who killed and died... God Bless all Servicemen and women!

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