Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Seven top Native American crime novels

David Heska Wanbli Weiden is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and received his MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He's a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a Tin House Scholar, and the recipient of the PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship. A lawyer and professor, he lives in Denver, Colorado, with his family.

Weiden's new novel is Winter Counts.

At The Strand Magazine he tagged seven of the most important crime novels by Native writers, including:
Mean Spirit (1990) by Linda Hogan (Chickasaw).

Not just one of the most important indigenous crime novels, this is a seminal work in the Native American canon. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the book tells the story of the Osage murders in the 1920s. The brutal killing of the character Grace Blanket drives the narrative although it soon expands to larger questions of societal justice. The novel is not only a mystery, but also an engrossing view into Native culture, spirituality, and the struggle against colonization. Kirkus Reviews in 1990 noted about the book: “Justice prevails for the most part, though not all of it is brought about through the courts. Meanwhile, the Indians’ efforts to influence events through the spirit world, their ever-tightening circle of defense, and their steady dread of the fate they fully expect to overtake them evoke a brutal time and place in American history, giving this tale an odd beauty.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue