The central figure in Green Grass, Running Water is Lionel Red Dog, who as a youth had a promising future that, through a series of misadventures not of his own doing, was foreclosed to him. During a trip to Salt Lake City to read a professional paper for a colleague in the Department of Indian Affairs, which employed him, Lionel was unwittingly drawn into an Indian activist group, and he landed in jail.
When he returned to Blossom, he was fired. His conviction made it difficult for him to get another job. Finally, Bill Bursum, the white owner of a local store, offered to hire Lionel to replace his cousin Charlie, who had left Bill’s employ to attend law school. Twenty years later, Lionel is still at work in the store; he is Bill’s best salesman, but he has never had a salary increase. Bill Bursum’s story is closely connected to Lionel’s.
The same is true of Charlie’s story. Charlie, having completed law school, is a Porsche-driving success, employed by Duplessis International Associates, the construction firm commissioned to dam a tribal river. When the dam is finally destroyed, Duplessis, no longer needing its token Indian, fires Charlie.
Alberta Frank is a college professor in Calgary who, realizing that her biological clock is running down, wants desperately to have a baby but has no desire to have a husband. She engages in simultaneous affairs with Charlie and Lionel, and her story is intricately tied to...
(The entire section is 581 words.)