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The Kiowa Verdict

by Cynthia Haseloff

Publishers Weekly Mining a critical but little-known event in the history of relations between Native Americans and whites, Haseloff (Man Without Medicine) has produced a gripping narrative. In 1871, Kiowa chief Satanta leads a raiding party into Texas, torturing and killing a group of white freighters. William Tecumseh Sherman, in Texas investigating "Indian depredations," orders the U.S. Army out in pursuit. The trail leads straight back to the Kiowa reservation in Oklahoma. When confronted, Satanta does not deny the raid but boasts of his leadership and is ordered arrested (along with other leaders of the foray). As Satanta is put on trial for murder, the events test President Grant's new Peace Policy, which replaces the military with civilian, Christian missionaries in Indian affairs. Satanta is found guilty, but closed-door testimony by the enigmatic Adrienne Chastain, a one-time captive of the chief, saves him from execution. Haseloff refuses to whitewash Satanta's brutality, and she uses gripping detail to fill gaps in the historical record, making her characters come alive with a human ambiguity too often lacking in the genre. (Nov.) FYI: Warner TV has bought the rights to The Kiowa Verdict and to an as yet unwritten prequel, titled Satanta's Woman, for a miniseries.

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