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On The Rez

by Ian Frazier

On The Rez
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  • First Published:
    Dec 1999, 311 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2001, 320 pages

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Nina (05/03/04)

Frazier means very well in this book, but not everybody is as charmed by him as he is by himself. Sherman Alexie pointed out , and I think he's got a point, that Frazier seems to think that he is "a white man who is magically unlike all other white men in his relationship to American Indians." Similarly, while I don't think there's anything wrong in his "need for a hero"-- although it is extremely overwhelming, and just as a side-note, what sort of person asks himself seriously whether or not Crazy Horse would have spent money on remodeling a kitchen?-- I do wonder why he places such emphasis on his own feelings about SuAnne Big Crow. He is quite concerned that the reader notice his "decency," I think, and one way to demonstrate "decency" is to show Deep Emotion. I don't wish to mock what I am sure is a sincere access of feeling on his part: but I also wonder how some residents of Pine Ridge feel about a white man claiming their hero as his own. I'm guessing that some are pleased that her heroism has crossed racial boundaries-- but might not others be wondering when they'll be let to have something of their own that isn't immediately snapped up and fetishized by white people? All in all, I think this book is as respectful as it knows how to be, but it romanticizes where it scolds other people for romanticizing, and it fetishizes where it purports not to, and finally it made me very, very tired.
Julie (04/17/02)

The method of addressing readers is very old-fashioned, along with his need for a hero in SuAnne Big Crow.
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