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Coyote Warrior: One Man, Three Tribes, and the Trial That Forged a Nationby Paul VanDevelder
Synopses & Reviews
The last battle of the American Indian Wars did not end at a place called Wounded Knee. From White Shield to Washington, D.C., new Indian wars are being fought by Ivy League-trained Indian lawyers called Coyote Warriors — among them a Mandan/Hidatsa attorney named Raymond Cross.
When Congress seized the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara homelands at the end of World War II, tribal chairman Martin Cross, the great-grandson of chiefs who fed and sheltered Lewis and Clark through the bitter cold winter of 1804, waged an epic but losing battle against the federal government. As floodwaters rose behind the massive shoulders of Garrison Dam, Raymond, the youngest of Martin's ten children, was growing up in a shack with dirt floors and no plumbing or electricity, wearing clothes made from flour sacks. By the time he was six, his people were scattered to slums in a dozen distant cities. Raymond ended up on the West Coast. Far from the homeland of their ancestors, he and his siblings would hear that their father had died alone and broken on the windswept prairie of North Dakota.
At Martin's graveside, Raymond discovered the solitary path he was destined to follow as a man. After Stanford and Yale Law, he returned home to resurrect his father's fight against the federal government. His extraordinary journey would lead him back to the Congress his father battled forty years before and into the hallowed chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court. There, the great-great-grandson of Chief Cherry Necklace would lay the case for the sanctity of the U.S. Constitution, treaty rights, and the legal survival of Indian Country at the feet of the nine black robes of the nation's highest court.
In the tradition of A Civil Action and J. Anthony Lukas's Common Ground, Coyote Warrior tells the epic story of the three tribes that saved the Corps of Discovery from starvation, their century-long battle to forge a new nation, and the extraordinary journey of one man to redeem a father's dream-and the dignity of his people.
"Raymond Cross is a Yale-educated attorney and the youngest son of Martin Cross, an American Indian tribal chairman who spent the bulk of his life fighting a losing battle against the construction of a post-WWII dam near the upper Missouri River that would forcibly remove hundreds of families from their ancestral lands. VanDevelder's exhaustively researched book uses the Cross family story — and Raymond Cross's eventual transformation into Coyote Warrior, the term given to a growing group of Ivy League-trained lawyers working on American Indian rights issues — to help trace the century-long struggle of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes to protect their North Dakota homelands. The author, an investigative reporter and documentary filmmaker, provides a glimpse into the vagaries of federal Indian law and its effects that avoids preachiness, preferring to let research and recollections by the Cross family tell the story. 'It doesn't take long with Indian law before you realize you're breathing a different kind of air,' notes one attorney who oversaw legislation to terminate federal wardship over American Indian tribes. The book is at its most accessible when it chronicles the personal struggles of the Cross family, but its sometimes tedious descent into legal jargon and switchback chronology may put off general readers. Agent, Joseph Brendan Vallely of Flaming Star Literary Enterprises. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Highly recommended." Kirkus Reviews
"Gripping...[T]hink A Civil Action set on the res — and it'll have you cheering for the warrior in the three piece suit." Outside Magaine
"[A] gripping and vivid portrayal...[T]his fascinating book is highly recommended for all libraries." Library Journal
"This is a beautiful, exhaustively researched, and very moving story of a struggle to survive against all odds....Coyote Warrior is one of the most compassionate, uplifting, and important stories that I have read in a long while." John Nichols, author of The Milagro Beanfield War
"Intense, heroic, patriotic, heartbreaking, uplifting, wise and instructive, Coyote Warrior is a major work of American history....It is our country's story, and it is our responsibility to know it. I'm grateful to Paul VanDevelder for telling it." Rick Bass, the author of Colter
"Coyote Warrior is first-rate history and a great read." Charles Wilkinson, Distinguished University Professor and Moses Lasky Professor of Law at the University of Colorado, and author of Crossing the Next Meridian
"Truly inspirational, this book captures the modern struggle for Indian rights." Vine Deloria, Jr., a Sioux political scientist and author of Custer Died For Your Sins and Red Earth, White Lies
"Coyote Warrior is nothing short of remarkable." Jack Hannon, American Rivers
"Compelling, outrageous and triumphant...[Coyote Warrior] will open your eyes and heart to the ongoing battle to preserve Native nations, history and cultures, and serve as a forceful reminder of philosopher George Santaynana's admonition to remember the past, lest society be doomed to repeat it." Debra Utacia Krol, Native Peoples Magazine
"This glimpse into the fascinating history of the Mandans is alone worth the cost of admission..." The Milwaukee Journal
"Our famously immigrant nation has remained largely oblivious to this former life of the North American continent....[T]he reader of Coyote Warrior may see a current running deeper than the treaties [in this book] themselves." San Francisco Chronicle
"Raymond Cross's landmark legal battle would redeem both his father's legacy and the dignity of his shattered people...[Coyote Warrior] is a riveting combination of courtroom drama and epic American history." Kenniwick Daily Record
"Coyote Warrior advises us that conflicting ideologies are still drawing blood, and that federal avarice remains disgracefully insatiate....As VanDevelder so poignantly reminds us, 800 opportunities [broken treaties] have been squandered thus far." San Diego Union-Tribune
"The astonishing account of one American Indian's battle against the federal government to save the land his ancestors lost." Esquire
"VanDevelder's poignant story holds a mirror up to post colonial America itself, showing how we are entwined with and indebted to those who have lived here for thousands of years...Coyote Warrior's protagonist, Raymond Cross, is compelling!" Audubon (editor's pick)
"[A]n exhaustively researched...compelling account..." David Steves, The Eugene Register Guard
"Coyote Warrior is a riveting combination of courtroom drama and epic American history...[A] must-read." William Lang, Albuquerque Journal
A Civil Action meets Indian country, as one man takes on the federal government and the largest boondoggle in U.S. history — and wins.
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