What Linda Hogan writes about in her novel Mean Spirit is the murder of Indigenous people in Oklahoma. Grace Blanket is a member of the Osage tribe. She comes into possession of some land. The land is not great for growing things, but it is, as it turns out, rich with oil. The oil that’s a part of Grace’s land makes her wealthy and brings her lots of attention.
The oil also turns Grace into a mark. She becomes a target for John Hale, a powerful oilman, who wants Grace’s land. To get it, he has her murdered. Grace’s daughter, Nola, witnesses her mom’s murder, as does Nola’s friend Rena. This turns both of them into targets. Rena’s home is set on a fire and Grace’s sister, Sara, is killed as well.
Stace Red Hawk, an Indigenous member of the Bureau of Investigation (a precursor to the FBI), tries to bring Hale to justice but ultimately fails.
With some idea of what Hogan wrote about in Mean Spirit, it’s now possible to think about why Hogan wrote her novel. Perhaps Hogan wrote her book to get people thinking about the lethal oppression that Indigenous people confront. By telling a specific story—one that's based on real-life events—Hogan might be trying to attach distinct, individual faces to the general struggles of Indigenous people.