Synopses & Reviews
In spare, honest, and picturesque language, Rick Steber sets this Spur Award-winning novel on the Klamath Indian reservation in 1961 just days before the tribe's "termination" by the U. S. government. Each tribal member received a $43,000 settlement from the government in return for the Klamath's 1-million acre reservation and the end of the Klamath's tribal status. Buy the Chief a Cadillac explores life on the reservation for three brothersthe alcoholism, violence, greed, and madnessbrought on by the white man's treatment of the tribe, and each brother's response to the termination settlement. Creek, college-bound and disgusted with reservation life, wants to take his money and run toward success in the white man's world. Chief, who represents the worst of reservation life, plans to spend his money on a new Cadillac and as much booze as he can possibly drink. Pokey, keeper of the Klamath traditions, plans on refusing the government payout and staying on his people's land. The brothers' separate plans send them on course for a deadly collision when the government money finally arrives.
"In 1954, the U.S. government, under the Indian Termination Act, 'incorporated' a great deal of Indian land on the Pacific coast and revoked the status of a number of tribes. Compensation came in 1961, in the form of $43,000 payments per tribe member. Spur Award winner Steber focuses, in his 27th novel, on how three Klamath brothers react to the loss and the money as they prepare to receive the latter. Rollin, called Chief, is the eldest brother; he's a violent alcoholic who puts the money straight into the bottle. Creek is a vulnerable college student who covets a red Corvette and can see little beyond that. Half-brother Pokey, who is half-white, doesn't want the money at all. As termination day nears, the liquor flows, and the local deputy sheriff gets nervous, especially after he discovers a hit list nailed to a bridge. The few whites who live on the reservation (including a vengeful storekeeper, a brutally opportunistic tavern owner and a redneck cattle rancher whose visiting daughter is writing a college paper about termination) don't help matters. There's no happy ending, just Steber's powerful, depressing portrayal of government duplicity and reservation poverty, alcoholism, anger and despair." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Rick Steber is the author of 27 books and is best known for writing honest stories about the strong people and the open landscapes of the Old West. His gift to all of us is saving the stories of people that otherwise would be lost and forgotten. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his achievements in Western literature including the Favell Museum Western Heritage Award, Benjamin Franklin Award, Mid-America Publishers Book Award, Oregon Library Association Award, and was a finalist for Oregon Literary Arts Book Award. He is a member of the Western Writers of America and has served as a panelist for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) , helping set national educational standards and achievement levels in U.S. Department of Education. Steber donates many hours visiting schools; talking to students about the importance of education, helping them develop reading and writing skills, and impressing upon them the value of saving our history for future generations. Rick writes in a cabin tucked away in the timbered folds of the Ochoco Mountains of Central Oregon. He is married to Kristi and they have two sons, Seneca and Dusty.