That night we ate another cold supper, yet everyone was in good spirits. The white soldiers had searched the canyon and found no trace of us. We felt secure. We felt that in the morning they would ride away, leaving us in peace.
— from Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell, 1970
My kids loved this story about a Navajo girl who was first captured by Spaniard slavers, escaped, and then had to leave her home with the rest of her people to go on the Long Walk to Fort Sumner, pushed there by the white soldiers.
The story of Native America is a tough one to tell, and I’m glad for books like this. I recently overheard a conversation complaining about the fishing and hunting rights modern-day Native Americans are given. The conversation went on to say that the Natives were in a war and had lost, so why should there be special privileges for them. I think at one time even I have thought this way.
But I am not so sure this war between the Natives and the white people was a win-or-lose war. I think it consisted of many promises and compromises and treaties broken by both sides. It was a war of greed and anger and pride, not really justice. The war itself was ugly. The people, all of them, white and red, are made in the image of God, and they contain beauty. So how, when I read a story of specific people, can I say they are bad or good? A job of fiction is to go beyond the facts of the stories and show us the people. Go beyond the bad to find the good. And that is what this book does.