Sunday, July 09, 2006


This weekend is both the Calgary Stampede and, a couple of hour’s drive to the south, North American Indian Days in Browning. It’s ninety degrees, the grass is still green, and the crowds are big in spite of the gas prices. I delivered a book order this morning and was lucky enough to run into Adolf Hungry Wolf so I could tell him how highly I think of his new books.

Adolf says that there is a special “presentation” issue of them with tooled leather bindings and so on. Those are about sold out. The more modest versions, which surprised me by having bright glossy bindings with art work on them, more like textbooks or story books, will stay in print but are selling quickly. My advice is to hurry to get your copies. I took my own advice, even though it meant quickly making and binding a box of my own books to sell in order to come up with the $300 for the 4-volume set.

If you need to buy through the mail, there are two distributors:

On the US side, The Blackfeet Heritage Center, P.O. Box 1629, Browning, Montana, 59417. On the Canadian side: The Good Medicine Cultural Foundation, Box 844, Skookumchuck, British Columbia V0B 2E0.

It’s possible to buy individual volumes, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you which ones you'd want. “Volume One: Pikunni History and Culture” includes an interview with Bob Scriver and another with Darrell Kipp.

Adolf set a few things straight that I’d gotten from other sources or misapprehended myself. One is that he is NOT “German.” He is actually Austrian on his mother’s side and Hungarian on his father’s side, but born in Germany. And he didn’t come to his first North American Indian Days in an armored car: it was actually a movie-making van which looked rather like an armored car except for the faded image of the movie studio’s logo on the side. He sold his Porsche to get it, so he wasn’t as much of a hippie as we’d imagined. He came in 1967.

He says that he’s gotten nothing but postive feedback from everyone, though he ducked the formal reception at the Blackfeet Heritage Center yesterday. Given that in the past AIM has put out a “fatwa” on him (as they did on Bob Scriver), that’s remarkable. One of the most backwards strategies of the Red Empowerment people was to try to forbid “white” people to write anything about them, or to know anything about them in the first place, or even -- as one of my students demanded -- to look at them. There’s no question that they were often used and exploited, but some people were deeply in sympathy with them and they ought to have been able to recognize that.

Of course, it would have weakened the message. One can’t urge an all-out attack and then start exempting this one and that one and the other. Especially when there is no dependable way to sort out who deserved what, and when there is a long tradition of entangling individual whites secretly to be sources of money, information, and influence.

In fact, Adolf and I agree that if the excesses of Red Empowerment were necessary in order to break up an oppressive status quo -- still haven’t finished the job, really. But a whole generation grew old in the attempt, some of them aging behind bars. Both of us have paid a certain price, nothing that desperate, but I guess we both survived. I guess we are friends because we are survivors.

So what’s Adolf up to now? Well, he has a laptop -- laid out these books on it -- but still has no electricity at his place so he has to go somewhere else to do electronic stuff. But the Good Medicine site will soon have email capability. He says he won’t write a blog, but he IS working on two novels: one about a young European man who comes here a hundred years ago and one about Cuba.

I’m looking forward to them.

No comments: