Author: P R Brown (St John's 1972)
Publisher: DB Publishing
This novella features the plight of Native Americans in general and of the Lakota Sioux of South Dakota in particular. The book is largely a response to the current Black Lives Matter movement, insofar as it raises important questions concerning ethnic identity, racial inequality and discrimination on grounds of colour. In the current furore, one might easily be forgiven for thinking that the only colours that merit discussion and concern are black and white. However, the red-white issue in the United States also merits discussion in the much wider context of colour/cultural prejudice and discrimination. Luke Benson, the central character in the book, is given a white upbringing and education together with the advantages that these promise to confer; he comes to learn painfully, however, of his red lineage; the tug-of-war that ensues concerning his true lineage and his white status mirrors the tension between policies of integration/assimilation, on the one hand, and the need to preserve cultural identity and authenticity on the other. The uncomfortable status of Native Americans has recently received renewed emphasis in the media in view of their complaint that they are not receiving the medical attention due to them vis-a-vis the COVID pandemic. Circle Walker is designed to stimulate thinking about the whole issue of colour and racial prejudice but on a wider scale; the author seeks to put some flesh on the bare bones of otherwise academic discussion in the form of a narrative that sees the central character endeavouring to come to terms with what white civilization has encouraged him to see as a red/white dichotomy.