Cover image for Coyote warrior : one man, three tribes, and the trial that forged a nation


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E78.N4 V35 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A Civil Action meets Indian country, as one man takes on the federal government and the largest boondoggle in U.S. history--and wins.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

This enlightening chronicle by investigative reporter VanDevelder takes on the complex issue of Indian law as it's being molded by a new generation of Native American lawyers, called coyote warriors, who are part of the Indigenous Environmental Network. Beginning with three landmark decisions made by Chief Justice John Marshall in the 1820s, Indian tribes were recognized as domestic dependent sovereign nations. When Martin Cross, the great-grandson of the Mandan chief who befriended Lewis and Clark, brought his passionate yet uneducated protest against the proposed Garrison Dam to the Senate floor in 1945, his argument that the land where three tribes had lived from time immemorial would be destroyed was overridden. But then his son, Raymond, a Yale-educated lawyer whose life was shaped by the dam's deleterious effect, took up the fight. Returning to North Dakota as the lawyer for the Three Affiliated Tribes, he successfully argued before the Supreme Court for reparations for those tribes who suffered ill effects caused by the dam's destructive environmental impact so that finally justice was done. --Deborah Donovan Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Raymond Cross is a Yale-educated attorney and the youngest son of Martin Cross, an American Indian tribal chairman who spent the bulk of his life fighting a losing battle against the construction of a post-WWII dam near the upper Missouri River that would forcibly remove hundreds of families from their ancestral lands. VanDevelder's exhaustively researched book uses the Cross family story-and Raymond Cross's eventual transformation into Coyote Warrior, the term given to a growing group of Ivy League-trained lawyers working on American Indian rights issues-to help trace the century-long struggle of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes to protect their North Dakota homelands. The author, an investigative reporter and documentary filmmaker, provides a glimpse into the vagaries of federal Indian law and its effects that avoids preachiness, preferring to let research and recollections by the Cross family tell the story. "It doesn't take long with Indian law before you realize you're breathing a different kind of air," notes one attorney who oversaw legislation to terminate federal wardship over American Indian tribes. The book is at its most accessible when it chronicles the personal struggles of the Cross family, but its sometimes tedious descent into legal jargon and switchback chronology may put off general readers. Agent, Joseph Brendan Vallely of Flaming Star Literary Enterprises. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Coyote warriors are Native American leaders who use science, law, and tribal sovereignty to protect their heritage (including their culture and natural resources) against self-serving tribal authorities and federal "trustee" agencies. One such coyote is Raymond Cross, a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) in North Dakota. VanDevelder investigates the modern history of the tribes via the Cross family, starting with Martin, Raymond's father. As tribal chairman in the 1940s and 1950s, Martin played a pivotal role in advocating for the tribes' rights while vehemently opposing the Garrison Dam, whose construction necessitated taking and inundating ancestral land, relocating hundreds of families, and abrogating numerous treaties. Interviews with those who lived through the events plus testimony and minutes from meetings and congressional hearings create a gripping and vivid portrayal that is extensively researched and well documented. Decades later, Raymond argued and won a case in front of the Supreme Court for retaining the tribes' sovereign immunity (the trial is alluded to in the title). This fascinating book is highly recommended for all libraries.-Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In telling the heroic story of Martin Cross and his son Raymond and their fight to preserve the lands and culture of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Indians, investigative reporter VanDevelder skillfully weaves together family and tribal histories in a true tale of incredible loss and belated victories. The controversial Pick-Sloan Plan to tame the Missouri River called for the construction of a series of dams, including Garrison Dam in North Dakota. The lake formed by Garrison Dam inundated the Fort Berthold Reservation, destroying Indian farms, homes, and schools and the reservation's infrastructure. VanDevelder traces the history of the dam and the people it displaced--from infighting among government agencies to eventual dam construction and finally court battles in which the Fort Berthold tribes fought for compensation for their lost lands. This story has many villains and a few heroes, both Indian and white, and is a brilliant case study of the government's failure to recognize the rights of three small Indian tribes who simply wanted to live in peace along the Northern Missouri River. Every student of Native American history should read this wonderful book. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. J. A. Boughter University of Nebraska at Omaha