Just Read: “Winter Counts” by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Read October 18, 2020 – October 21,2020

I finally had the opportunity to pick up one of the books on my nightstand and I’ve been eager to start it since receiving it in my Book of the Month box last month. David Heska Wanbli Weiden is a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and his story brings to light some of the very real issues the Native American people have been facing for decades. The narrative was very engaging and I took longer that usual to read it because I was hanging on to every chapter. 

What is it about? 

Virgil Wounded Horse is a no-nonsense enforcer of the law on the reservation. Some may call him a hired thug but what he does is serve a plate of justice to grimy people. The cops can’t do much with most of the crimes being committed and the FBI rarely takes on a case sent their way from the reservation, so Virgil helps families out when an abuser or rapist needs to be put in their place. Beyond this… he is the guardian of his 14-year-old nephew, Nathan, whose mom died in a car crash. Living in poverty and taking care of a young boy can be quite the challenge.

Nathan gets mixed in with the wrong crowd, leaving Virgil to seek a fight with a heavy hitting drug cartel but it’s a lot more complicated than it sounds; as if trying to fight a gang isn’t complicated enough. Virgil leaves the reservation to search out a bully from his childhood who seems to be helping the cartel target teens on the reservation. Digging doesn’t always give you the exact answers you’re searching for but there’s more that meets the eye with his investigation. 

What does it have?

  • Native American Reservation Life
  • Broken Families
  • Drug Cartels
  • Spirituality

I learned so much from reading this fictional narrative. Weiden explains, in a separate section of the book, that although it’s fiction “…it is informed by current and historical events…and [he] encourage[s] readers interested in these issues to explore some of the many scholarly historical books on these topics”(Winter Counts). He’s a skillful writer and used his craft to engage the reader in a deeper discussion of the hardships Native American’s face.

Is it worth reading?

You have to! I enjoyed it and it wasn’t the standard Nicolena read… lol, see what I did there? Lately I’ve been so wrapped around Christmas (in October, I know… leave me alone) that I haven’t given attention to the other stories being told.

Now it’s time for me to read Untamed because that virtual book club meeting is tomorrow and I want to have something to contribute! What’re you reading this week?

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