cover image Good Friday on the Rez

Good Friday on the Rez

David Hugh Bunnell. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-11253-8

Tech pioneer, author, and activist Bunnell (who died in October) has written a melancholy and fascinating account of a 280-mile road trip from his boyhood home of Alliance, Neb., to the Pine Indian Reservation, a journey that takes him through dramatic terrain and landmarks from the tragic history of the Lakota tribes. Bunnell, a small-town kid who became an idealistic schoolteacher on the reservation, smuggled food to protestors during the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee and developed a lifelong friendship with the charismatic Vernell White Thunder, a direct descendant of Oglala Lakota chiefs and medicine men. In vivid prose, Bunnell weaves memories of his childhood and youth with a sweeping history of the Lakota during and since white expansion into the west—from the U.S. army massacres of women and children, the battle at Little Bighorn, and the murder of Crazy Horse, to present-day struggles with poverty, racism, and alcohol. White Thunder’s family anecdotes and successful efforts to merge his heritage and the modern world, as Bunnell, explains, provide an inspiring counterpoint to the nightmare of history. After receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, Bunnell devoted himself to completing this account, and it stands as a tribute to a seemingly defeated people who recovered their pride in the Wounded Knee standoff. (Apr.)