Friday, June 14, 2013
New Review: Nancy Morse’s WHERE THE WILD WIND BLOWS – Absorbing and Bittersweet Story of Love Among the Plains Indians
Set in Wyoming in 1855 and the few years following, this is the story of Katie McCabe, daughter of an Indian trader who was raised in Sioux country, who in one day loses her family when the soldiers attack. When offered a choice, she chooses to live with the Lakota Sioux. Black Moon is an Oglala warrior who is bitter against the whites who are taking over the Indians’ lands but still he rescues Katie and finds himself attracted to her. As Black Moon tries to reconcile his hatred of the whites with his desire for the trader’s daughter, Katie marries Black Moon’s brother, though she does not love him, while still wanting Black Moon to whom she gave her body and her heart.
Katie faces one crisis after another as first a Crow Indian abducts her and then she is sold to some French traders. Of course, Black Moon comes to her rescue once again. Then there is Katie’s trip back to the white world when the soldiers come to bring her to a rich aunt in St. Louis. And the Army officer who wants her as his wife. All the while Katie longs for the freedom of the Plains and the Sioux warrior she still loves.
Not only are Katie’s trials enough to make you sad, but all of this is set against the hopeless striving of the Indians to save their way of life. Morse does a fine job of setting out the history and weaving an absorbing tale. There were some improbable elements that detracted for me though other readers might not mind: though she is captured, married or sold to one Indian or white man after another, none force her to have sex (and Black Moon never asks if they did); Black Moon allows a young, inexperienced brave to talk him into attacking when he believes it’s a bad day to fight and knows they cannot win (this seemed inconsistent with Black Moon’s character); and soldiers ride into an Indian encampment to retrieve Katie and are not challenged.
I loved Katie’s spirit and Black Moon’s strength. Together they were a worthy pair. But I did wonder what kind of a “happy ever after” they would have when the Indian wars were only beginning and any children they might have would be old enough to have fought (and perhaps died) in them. Such is the mark of a good story that I would care. If you want to experience the struggle of the Plains Indians, and the Sioux in particular, this is a bittersweet tale that will provide it.