Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
In Wind from an Enemy Sky, D’Arcy McNickle, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kutenai tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation, born and educated in Montana, writes of the difficult period in American history during which the United States government attempted to subdue Native Americans peacefully. McNickle, a government employee for most of his life, presents a balanced view of what occurred during this period in one small Native American enclave in the Flathead Lake-St. Ignatius area of Montana.
On the surface, McNickle presents the story of a Native American extended family that includes Pock Face, who, carrying his grandfather’s rifle, steals furtively into a canyon where white developers have built a dam on tribal land. The Little Elk Indians equate the damming of their river with its murder. The dam has an immediate negative impact upon fishing and farming on their tribal lands.
As Pock Face and Theobald, his cousin, approach the dam, they spy a white man walking across its surface. Pock Face fires one shot. Jim Cooke, ironically on his last day of work before going east to marry, dies instantly.
The remainder of the story revolves around the government’s efforts to mete out justice to the murderer. This surface story, however, provides the justification for a compelling subtext that illustrates the difficulties involved when one well-established culture attempts to impose itself upon another. Wind...
(The entire section is 802 words.)
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