“There is no word for goodbye in Lakota.That’s what my mother used to tell me. Sure, there were words like toksa, which meant ‘later,’ that were used by people as a modern substitute. She’d told me that the Lakota people didn’t use a term for farewell because of the idea that we are forever connected. To say goodbye would mean the circle was broken.”
Winter Counts is a stark look at modern life on a reservation, the author states in his author’s note that this is a fictionalization of what he has experienced as true to life on his reservation. As an “own voices” novel, I am tentative to write my review in such a way that is not at all critical of the people portrayed within. I fully acknowledge my status as descendent of colonizers and hate that element of our history. I have always found the Native American culture intoxicatingly beautiful and I love the way it is portrayed in this story. The author perfectly illustrates the balance between those who want to raise up their tribe and revel in their culture and those who find it more reasonable to assimilate.
The heart of this story is about the continued marginalization of the Lakota tribe and how there are members of the tribe who continue to facilitate this for their own personal gain. Virgil is not a model citizen by any means but as this story starts he is trying to do everything he can to survive and allow his nephew to thrive. When the case he is charged to investigate by tribal leaders entangles itself with his own life, we see just how far people will go to take advantage of the tribe. The crime story at the center of this story is so compelling and told with such a careful, metered approach you’ll be wanting more of Virgil’s brand of justice by the end.
In these characters we see both the good and bad of humanity. Having worked with the IHS for many years, I can tell you there are immensely good people working to support the health of indigenous people on the reservations but it’s definitely not enough. If you want to see a snapshot of the challenges faced by these programs, this book has a great view of it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This was book 250 for me for the year, how many books have you read so far this year? Have you met your goal?