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Good Friday on the Rez
Cover of Good Friday on the Rez
Good Friday on the Rez
A Pine Ridge Odyssey

Good Friday on the Rez follows the author on a one-day, 280-mile round-trip from his boyhood Nebraska hometown of Alliance to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where he reconnects with his longtime friend and blood brother, Vernell White Thunder. In a compelling mix of personal memoir and recent American Indian history, David Hugh Bunnell debunks the prevalent myth that all is hopeless for these descendants of Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull and shows how the Lakota people have recovered their pride and dignity and why they will ultimately triumph.

What makes this narrative special is Bunnell's own personal experience of close to forty years of friendships and connections on the Rez, as well as his firsthand exposure to some of the historic events. When he lived on Pine Ridge at the same time of the American Indian Movement's seventy-one-day siege at Wounded Knee in 1973, he met Russell Means and got a glimpse behind the barricades. Bunnell has also seen the more recent cultural resurgence firsthand, attending powwows and celebrations, and even getting into the business of raising a herd of bison.

Substantive and raw, Good Friday on the Rez is for readers who care about the historical struggles and the ongoing plight of Native Americans, and in particular, that of the Lakota Sioux, who defeated the U.S. Army twice, and whose leaders have become recognized as among America's greatest historical figures.

Good Friday on the Rez is a dramatic page-turner, an incredible true story that tracks the torment and miraculous resurrection of Native American pride, spirituality, and culture—how things got to be the way they are, where they are going, and why we should care.

Good Friday on the Rez follows the author on a one-day, 280-mile round-trip from his boyhood Nebraska hometown of Alliance to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where he reconnects with his longtime friend and blood brother, Vernell White Thunder. In a compelling mix of personal memoir and recent American Indian history, David Hugh Bunnell debunks the prevalent myth that all is hopeless for these descendants of Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull and shows how the Lakota people have recovered their pride and dignity and why they will ultimately triumph.

What makes this narrative special is Bunnell's own personal experience of close to forty years of friendships and connections on the Rez, as well as his firsthand exposure to some of the historic events. When he lived on Pine Ridge at the same time of the American Indian Movement's seventy-one-day siege at Wounded Knee in 1973, he met Russell Means and got a glimpse behind the barricades. Bunnell has also seen the more recent cultural resurgence firsthand, attending powwows and celebrations, and even getting into the business of raising a herd of bison.

Substantive and raw, Good Friday on the Rez is for readers who care about the historical struggles and the ongoing plight of Native Americans, and in particular, that of the Lakota Sioux, who defeated the U.S. Army twice, and whose leaders have become recognized as among America's greatest historical figures.

Good Friday on the Rez is a dramatic page-turner, an incredible true story that tracks the torment and miraculous resurrection of Native American pride, spirituality, and culture—how things got to be the way they are, where they are going, and why we should care.

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About the Author-
  • DAVID HUGH BUNNELL was a writer, photographer, editor and publisher best known as the founder of magazines, Web sites, and trade shows. He authored hundreds of articles and several books. He was a longtime active member and former director of the Northern California ACLU and founder of the nonprofit Andrew Fluegelman Foundation. David passed away in October 2016.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 28, 2016
    Tech pioneer, author, and activist Bunnell (who died in October) has written a melancholy and fascinating account of a 280-mile road trip from his boyhood home of Alliance, Neb., to the Pine Indian Reservation, a journey that takes him through dramatic terrain and landmarks from the tragic history of the Lakota tribes. Bunnell, a small-town kid who became an idealistic schoolteacher on the reservation, smuggled food to protestors during the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee and developed a lifelong friendship with the charismatic Vernell White Thunder, a direct descendant of Oglala Lakota chiefs and medicine men. In vivid prose, Bunnell weaves memories of his childhood and youth with a sweeping history of the Lakota during and since white expansion into the west—from the U.S. army massacres of women and children, the battle at Little Bighorn, and the murder of Crazy Horse, to present-day struggles with poverty, racism, and alcohol. White Thunder’s family anecdotes and successful efforts to merge his heritage and the modern world, as Bunnell, explains, provide an inspiring counterpoint to the nightmare of history. After receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, Bunnell devoted himself to completing this account, and it stands as a tribute to a seemingly defeated people who recovered their pride in the Wounded Knee standoff.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2017
    An Indian rights sympathizer returns to the site of an iconic moment in Native American resistance: Wounded Knee.Bunnell, a white native of Alliance, Nebraska--what he calls "the most boring town in America," though not without affection--grew up around Sioux people, though often the rootless, wandering, and drunken kind that filled the town's back alleys, jail, and morgue. The kind he encountered when the American Indian Movement rose up in 1973 at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, the site of the last major massacre in the Indian Wars, were a different sort, muscular, disciplined, and well-armed--"long-haired big-city Indians," he writes, "some with revolvers tucked in the waistbands of their blue jeans." The young Bunnell cut his teeth bringing in supplies, questioned by a vigorous security force whether his intention was to poison the activists but then allowed to come and go. Here he recounts those episodes, mixing them with anecdotes about the people he met on the scene and what has become of them, as well as what has become of the entire Lakota Nation at Pine Ridge, a place as remote as any on the continent, just this side of the "North American pole of inaccessibility." That puts places like Pine Ridge, Kyle, and Wounded Knee out of view of most wasicus, or white people, and even if Bunnell insists that "everyone should come to Wounded Knee at least once," this little travelogue by way of memoir is about as close as most readers will get. The author's constant asides on the virtues and demerits of small-town life ("name a fancy New York restaurant that offers you the choice of three outstanding side dishes with every entree") can be a little much, but his reports from the front line then and now are urgent and important. A well-intended memoir with forgivable flaws in the service of the greater good of delivering a portrait of reservation life over the course of half a century.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2017

    The late Bunnell, who was a prolific writer, activist, and journalist (most notably founding PC Magazine and Macworld), marries a heartfelt memoir with history, educating readers in both recent and past Native American lore, personal histories, inequalities, and traditions. His personal "odyssey" was in the form of a driving trip. Leaving from his childhood home in Nebraska and traveling to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to visit a former student, Bunnell keenly and with arresting detail observes the towns he encounters, comparing both past and present. Interspersed throughout are histories of the massacres and the annihilation of Native populations and their food supplies in the late 1800s, along with Bunnell's experiences at Wounded Knee during the 1970s occupation and as a teacher at Pine Ridge. With honesty and sensitivity, the author does much to explain the plight and inequities encountered by Native American communities over many generations. VERDICT This informative account should be placed alongside all books on Native American history and culture. It deserves to be read by all, particularly in light of the recent Dakota Access Pipeline protests.--Maria Bagshaw, Elgin Community Coll. Lib., IL

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Pine Ridge Odyssey
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