Stranded on the Road to Promise
On the windswept prairie of the Great Plains, one woman struggles to understand why an honest account of history was never told. As she moves amongst the Sioux as a construction missionary for the Episcopal Church, her questions deepen when the pain of the tribe’s past taps into hers. Stranded on the Road to Promise, published by Sharktooth Press, presents these struggles in a haunting narrative that dares to ask difficult questions.
The questions as to whether Western Religions have relevancy for Native Americans lead her on a chaotic journey to her own spirituality. It is not scripture that helped her maintain equilibrium but the literary works of remarkable writers, both Native American and non-Native American. This is the story of a young woman finding her footing as a writer while simultaneously navigating the South Dakota reservations, in search of the home of the brave.
David R. Anderson says of the book: “…it begins with the question “Do you think I’m the enemy?” The tone for this fine social/anthropological journey, into the lives of a group of America’s indigenous people, is set as one of addressing the guilt felt by white Europeans over the treatment of the North American Indians. In particular Saxon Henry gives a first hand account of her experience with members of Sioux tribal subgroups whose ancestors were ‘Europeanized’ by the white Churches colonizing the region.
Part personal narrative, part essay, this book recounts Saxon Henry’s travels in South Dakota as part of the Episcopal Church’s construction team where the experiences of the indigenous people touched the author in a way that changed her life.
In discussing the reconciliation process witnessed in South Dakota, Saxon Henry touches on the Black Hills dispute. “How can there be reconciliation if there never was any conciliation” she states in reference to the overturning of the Fort Laramie Treaty and the assigning of other reservations to the Lakota people against their wishes.
Also on the Lower Brulé reservation, set on the banks of the Missouri River, Henry describes the abject poverty as “a collection of run-down buildings, which read like flotsam and jetsam dropped from the sky onto the spare grid of streets by an alien culture.” Ironically, for this reader’s understanding of the links between poverty and gambling, the Golden Buffalo Casino recently built “was the only structure that didn’t declare to the world we were navigating there was one of decay.”
Throughout this book, the author imparts a deep sense of humanity—of truly caring about the Dakota Sioux people and their lives. From Wagner to Yankton, to the Rosebud and Lower Brulé reservations there is a growing sense of enlightenment regarding the treatment of the region’s indigenous people.
Even when confronted with racial rancor the author continues to examine the reasons behind these grievances, articulating them freely without defensiveness.” I thank the talented book reviewer for his insight.