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Buy the Chief a Cadillac

by Rick Steber

Publishers Weekly 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. (Jan. 10) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal This book, whose self-published edition has already won the 2005 Spur Award for Best Western Novel, isn't so much a novel as a re-creation of the days surrounding the most momentous event in the history of the Pacific Northwest's Klamath Indian tribe-the U.S. government's purchase of the Klamath reservation and termination of its people's tribal status in 1961. Steber's (No End in Sight) short character portraits lend insight into the hopeless, alcohol-drenched lives of many Klamath adults, and his back stories shed light on the realities of reservation life. Key characters include the three Pitsua brothers, Chief, Pokey, and Creek; at the narrative's focal point we see Chief almost kill one of his brothers in a drunken rage, then turn the gun on himself. Steber brutally depicts what white civilization has done to native American people while offering some hope in the character of Pokey, who simply refuses to sell out. Recommended for regional collections about the West and larger fiction collections.-Ken St. Andre, Phoenix P.L. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.