This book tackles the true story of the government’s attempt to terminate the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa tribe in 1954. The Night Watchman follows several tribal members’ lives as they navigate this treacherous decision spurred on by a real Senator from Utah. We follow Thomas, the Night Watchman of jewel bearing plant (and he is based on the author’s grandfather), Pixie, who works at the jewel bearing plant and has dreams of a different life, and several other characters who are part of the Turtle Mountain tribe or who work with them. While the book’s main plot deals with government termination, there are many side plots about love, family, and finding your path in life.
I wish I knew what blog or person recommended this book to me because I want to thank them. The Night Watchman is not a book I would normally pick up to read, and I am so glad I read it. I know very little about these government attempts to terminate tribes (and the benefits that go along with it), and it’s happening again under this Administration. I’m from Montana, and the book takes place in North Dakota so I felt a special kinship to these people and their struggles.
The cadence and rhythm of this book were deeply satisfying in ways I cannot describe. The book was a pleasant read even when tackling difficult topics like race, sex, and money. It was a very interesting snapshot of life in the 1950s that we don’t hear about all that often. The author’s research was incredible and I have confidence that she portrayed this time period and character struggles to the best of her ability. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book for a change in pace and to understand the struggle of tribal designation in the United States.
Some stats, as I like stats:
Finished on March 21, 2020, took 8 days to read
4 stars on Goodreads
Genre: Historical Fiction