The Moccasin Telegraph Characters
by W. P. Kinsella

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The Moccasin Telegraph Characters

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The narrator and unifying element in the stories is eighteen-year-old Silas Ermineskin, who studies tractor repair at the Wetaskiwin Tech School but who is also apprenticed to Mad Etta, the reservation's four-hundred-pound medicine lady. In this sense, Silas has ties to both worlds, the white technological world and the Indians' old way of life. Silas's loyalty is, however, to his red world, and when the two worlds collide, Silas makes his stand. In "The Ballad of the Public Trustee," old Buffalo Joe dies and leaves his farm to Silas, but because there is no will, Silas loses the land to a computer-farming conglomerate through legal and bureaucratic shenanigans. Realizing that he cannot fight an impersonal bureaucracy and win, Silas steals a bulldozer and razes Joe Buffalo's cabin, corral, barn and granaries. In "Where the Wild Things Are/' Silas, urged and aided by trickster Frank Fencepost, poses as certified Indian hunting guides to hornswoggle some Alabama white men, and the results are hilarious. In "Fugitives," Silas devises the plan for hiding Grover Manybears, the founder of Canadian Indians for Freedom, who has been unjustly accused of shooting two Royal Canadian Mounted Policemen. At the same time, Silas can be awed by his Indian heritage as he is in "The Moccasin Telegraph," and at other times he is chagrined as he is in "The Bottle Queen" when his alcoholic father steals money from Delores. Silas's sister.