Neither Wolf Nor Dog, by Kent Nerburn
I remember when I was in school, we were learning about the Bering Strait and how it was the land bridge that Indians traveled over to settle the continents of North and South America thousands of years ago. I remember expressing to my teacher that Europe has its own race of people, so does Asia and Africa. North and South America are huge continents, why wouldn’t they have their own race of people too? Why is it that the Natives of America had to have come from somewhere else?
It didn’t make sense to me. I think my teacher said something about how there are a lot of people who would agree with me on that.
The Bering Strait and the ridiculous notion that its how the Indians found their way to America is just one of the things Dan talks about in Neither Wolf Nor Dog.
Dan is an elderly Lakota man, almost eighty years old. He wants to write a book about the life he has known, but he feels he doesn’t have the means or the time to make it happen. So, he’s calls in Kent Nerburn to write the book for him.
The entire story is in Nerburn’s point-of-view. Nerburn records his own experiences and Dan’s long talks., as well as the accounts that Grover, another Lakota, inserts. There are accounts from other people Nerburn meets while working with Dan. The story takes us from the reservation Dan and Grover live on and goes to Wounded Knee.
The chapter on Wounded Knee really got to me. I always knew these things had happened, but I never before felt the depth of pain and outrage that Indians feel. Dan expressed that he wished he knew why it happened the way it did.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog is a very well-written book. Nerburn held true to the promise he made Dan. He did a good job.