New Novel Depicts Navajo Kids' Escape from Government Oppression in HE WHO WALKS ALONE
A family watches powerlessly as their youngest, a boy just eleven years old, is taken away from them by government agents. There, in that reservation in Arizona, where they had lived happily for many years, the Navajo are inflicted upon by a grave injustice, a law forcing their children to be sent to distant federally-operated boarding schools. In Nasha Bi? Hoga, He Who Walks Alone, author Mike Wyant tells a story of a group of children who courageously defied their captors and struggled to preserve their freedom and identity.
Navajo children are treated roughly during their capture and the bus trip to their school. One of them, Jeff White Cloud, swears to escape and return to his home, some eight hundred miles away, despite lacking any money and distrusting the white man. All he has are his survival skills, and the yearning to see his family once again. At school, he has to contend with strict personnel and a curriculum designed to "Americanize" Navajo children and erase his native identity. He surmounts the challenges he faces at school and on his journey, but when he returns home, he finds the same government agents manhandling another child. After he moves to thwart them, he ends up leading no less than twenty-one Navajo children to liberation. Together, they evade the clutches of the government and go to ground, living off the land while staying on the lookout for those who would steal them away and subject them to confinement and mistreatment.
Wyant sets this coming-of-age odyssey of survival, evasion, resistance and escape in a backdrop of sweeping societal changes in America, as a political battle takes place to reform the draconian and prejudicial laws into policies fairer for the Navajo. The result of this battle will ultimately decide the fate of the children, and determine whether they will stay exiled or finally have a chance to return to their homes and families.