cover image Last Standing Woman

Last Standing Woman

Winona LaDuke. Voyageur Press (MN), $22.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-89658-278-1

An Indian-rights activist and former vice-presidential candidate (Green Party, 1996), LaDuke makes an impressive fiction debut in this provocative if tendentious first novel. Rooted in LaDuke's own Anishinaabe heritage, the novel skillfully intertwines social history, oral myth and character study in ways reminiscent of Leslie Marmon Silko and Louise Erdrich. Stretching from 1800 into the near future but set mostly in this century, the narrative focuses on events at LaDuke's own White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. Episodes of the so-called Great Sioux Uprising of 1862 are poignantly recalled as a prelude to the later struggles for dignity and self-determination that dominate the plot. At the center of these are Ishkweniibawiikwe (the Last Standing Woman of the title) and Lucy St. Clair, both strong women who resist continued U.S. persecution and corrupt tribal governments. In a climactic incident reminiscent of the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee, revolutionary Indians forcibly take over their reservation and assert their independence. A list of dramatis personae and glossary of Anishinaabe words aid the reader. (Nov.)