“What can that mean, I and my family will have a ‘reserve of one square mile’?”
So asks Big Bear of Governor Morris, come to impose a square treaty on the round, buffalo-covered world of the Plains Cree. As the buffalo vanish and the tension builds to the second Riel Rebellion, Big Bear alone of the prairie chiefs keeps up pressure for a better treaty by refusing to choose a reserve. He argues, “If any man has the right to put a rope around another man’s neck, some day someone will get choked.”
It is Big Bear’s story – and the story of Wandering Spirit, of Kitty McLean and John McDougall–that is told in this novel with rare and penetrating power. Permeated with a sense of place and time, this eagerly awaited work by Rudy Wiebe reflects the author’s sensitivity to the Canadian prairies, their history, the minds and hearts of their diverse people.
Exploring Big Bear’s isolated struggle, Wiebe has encompassed in one creative sweep not only his hero’s struggle for integrity, but the whole range and richness of the Plains culture. Here is the giant circle of the prairie horizon, and the joy, the sorrow, the pain and the triumph and the violence of unconquerable human beings faced with destruction.
About the Author
Acclaimed as one of Canada’s foremost novelists, Rudy Wiebe’s reputation began in 1962 with the publication of his first novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many. Born in Saskatchewan in 1934, he spent his youth there and in Coaldale, Alberta. By the time he graduated from the University of Alberta he had already published a number of poems and short stories. In 1963 he taught at Goshen College, Indiana, and later, after studying creative writing at the University of Iowa, returned to the University of Alberta, where he continued to teach in the English Department. His short stories have appeared in Tamarack Review, Fiddlehead and Prism international. Besides editing several story anthologies, he has published three other novels, First and Vital Candle (1966), The Blue Mountains of China (1970), and Peace Shall Destroy Many (1962) which is now available in a New Canadian Library paperback reprint.