cover image Longwalker's Journey: A Novel of the Chocktaw Trail of Tears

Longwalker's Journey: A Novel of the Chocktaw Trail of Tears

Beatrice Orcutt Harrell. Dial Books, $15.99 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2380-1

Harrell tells the story of her great-greatgrandfather, who set out ahead of the other Choctaw to pave the way for their settlement in the new ""Indian Territory."" ""Ten summers"" old, Minko and the other Choctaw are evicted from their homelands in Mississippi, and forced to walk hundreds of miles to a newly established Indian Territory in Arkansas in 1831. Minko must also leave behind his beloved pony, Black Spot. After they encounter a brutal wagon leader, bitter winter weather and inadequate supplies, Minko and his father, Itilakna, go on ahead of their family and tribe to prepare their new home. Joined by the stubborn pony that would not stay behind, they bravely traverse the wilderness. The novel begins awkwardly, introducing important facts without integrating them into the flow of the story, and doesn't fill in the details as vividly or with the same immediacy as the first-person narration in Cornelia Cornelissen's recent story of the Trail of Tears, Soft Rain. However, Harrell smoothly introduces Choctaw beliefs and values, which surface in the father and son's treatment of animals, nature and even in their forgiveness of the wagon leader. The character of John Turner, a freedman who helps Minko and his father when they come to Little Rock, brings up a little-known thread of historic cooperation and assistance between Native Americans and escaped slaves. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 8-11. (Mar.)