RavenShadow

 

From a two-time Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Writer of the Year, this tale of lost faith and crowning redemption follows one American Indian’s spirit journey to heal his past and claim his futureFrom a two-time Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Writer of the Year, this tale of lost faith and crowning redemption follows one American Indian’s spirit journey to heal his past and claim his future.

“With the skill of the fine novelist that he is, Win Blevins takes a modern Oglala Sioux radio jockey into the spirit world of his ancestors, including the stark tragedy of Wounded Knee. RavenShadow has the impact of a hurled war lance.”—Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Before he was born, Joseph Blue Crow was chosen to carry the sacred ways of the Sioux. But instead of walking the good Red Road of his people, he put his feet on the white man’s road of basketball and booze, women and the blues. Haunted by the loss of his Lakota heritage and the inexplicable suicide of the woman he loves, Blue sinks into alcoholism and despair.

He soon finds himself on the precipice of oblivion, a train roaring toward his car on the railroad tracks. Only his best friend’s words can save him: “You got to go on the mountain.”

Blue’s journey takes him on a tortuous path, guided by a shaman and a spirit bird under whose wing lies the shadow of the past. He relives the massacre of Wounded Knee, standing beside his family and his people as they fall under fire of guns and cannons. Blue seeks, and finds, redemption and healing through the course of this extraordinary story.

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Author Reviews

“With the skill of the fine novelist that he is, Win Blevins takes a modern Oglala Sioux radio jockey into the spirit world of his ancestors, including the stark tragedy of Wounded Knee. RavenShadow has the impact of a hurled war lance.”—Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

“Win Blevins has long since won his place among the West’s very best. RavenShadow adds a new dimension to his reputation.”  Tony Hillerman

Professional Reviews

“Best known for Stone Song, his vivid, lyrical novel of the life of Crazy Horse, Blevins here introduces Joseph Blue Crow, a 1990s Lakota Sioux who calls himself a Great White Doubter. Narrator Joseph feels he is red on the outside but white on the inside (“I thought the white way was the way, and the red way should get left behind”). Although born a full-blooded Sioux and raised on the reservation, Blue is poised to escape his destined poverty when he gets away to college and discovers booze, basketball and girls.

“Succumbing to the temptations of this exotic white culture, he discards his Indian heritage, his family and friends. His experiences as a young man in Seattle are harsh.  He encounters overt racism, but it is his girlfriend’s suicide, and the almost simultaneous death of his grandmother, that prompt him to return to the reservation, feeling a traitor to himself and his people. By 1990 he is 40, divorced, an alcoholic disk jockey on a blues radio station in South Dakota.

“Finally, compelled to seek peace by a friend and a spiritual vision of a raven, Blue immerses himself in Sioux tradition, turning to the sweat lodge and the sacred pipe. His quest culminates in a pilgrimage, the annual Big Foot Memorial Ride, which commemorates Wounded Knee, the bloody event the whites call a battle, but the Sioux call a massacre.

“En route, with the help of a medicine man, Blue’s spirit is transported to that bitter cold day in 1890 when the Seventh Cavalry fired on a village of starving Sioux, including some of Blue’s own ancestors. His soul is redeemed by his difficult vision, though the journey may be both painful and beautiful for the reader.”– Publisher’s Weekly

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 “Blevins tells the story of Lakota Indian Joseph Blue Crow’s unique midlife crisis, which leads to a journey–both geographical and spiritual–to save his soul. The narrative slips neatly back and forth between the 1990s and the 1890s without the least bit of confusion.

“Blue has managed to get himself fired from his radio disc jockey job; he’s too drunk to do himself any good with Sallee Walks Straight; and he’s totally confused about who he is, who he was supposed to be, and who he yet might become. That’s when his friend Emile Gray Feather talks to him about “goin’ on the mountain” –returning to the old ways, to his cultural roots, and rediscovering the path he was meant to follow instead of the oil-slick road to perdition down which he has willingly strayed.

“Blue finds himself, but the reader finds even more in Blevins’ tales of Lakota lore and his reexamination of one of the darkest episodes in American history. Blevins’ prose is razor sharp, his characters are clearly defined, and his heart, like so many, is at Wounded Knee. An outstanding novel.” — Budd Arthur, Booklist

“A strong, thoughtful story of minorities within the dominant white culture.”—  Kirkus Reviews

“. . Win Blevins has written a searing tale of lost faith and crowning redemption that is destined to become an American classic.

“This is the saga of Joseph Blue Crow as brought to life in beautiful form by author, Win Blevins. The narrative shifts from past to present and Blevins intricately weaves both with authority and conviction.

“Blevins displays such depth in the development of his characters that he raises the genre to a new level. The rhythmic nature of time, and its interpretation by the Sioux, is rendered in stunning detail by the author. Time has washed over Blue Crow and has cast him adrift from his people and ultimately himself.”  —Roundup Magazine

The powerful story of one American Indian’s spirit journey in an attempt to heal his past and claim his future. . . . Win has written a most powerful and poetic book. At times, the story is troubling. It touches readers deeply, as we follow along with Joseph Blue Crow as he struggles to regain the long, lost Red Road.” —Tulsa World

Few books really get into the Native American mindset as well as RavenShadow.  Instead of being steeped in mysticism, Blevins’ story is centered on people—for it is there that the true connection can be made. You’ll suffer and triumph along with Joseph as he makes his journey of self- discovery. I felt a part of the long march to redemption. I felt the cold, the loneliness, and the hurt, and ultimately the triumph.”  Comics Corner

No one can come away from this magnificent work without feeling humble and meditative about the artificial life he has created. It is a book that transcends man and reminds him of his close relationship to his creator. It is a book I wish I had written.

Blevins beautifully and skillfully merges the past and the present into a “now,” which in the hands of a lesser gifted author would result in nothing more than pompous meditation and sermonizing. Blevins, however, has higher aspirations. . . . Blue Crow’s search for the peace and harmony that belong within his spiritual being is a rite of passage for all who read this novel.”—El Paso Times

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Reader Reviews

RavenShadow  is a true inspirationI enjoyed reading this book. It gave me an in-depth insight into the world of Native American spirituality. I especially liked the way Win Blevins shifted from the present to the past. He didn’t make you confused by the shift. There was a lot of information about the massacre at Wounded Knee that I didn’t even know.

“Imagine being a Lakota and not knowing much about your ancestors. That was Joseph Blue Crow. He didn’t know anything about his ancestors or why Wounded Knee, the place, was so difficult to be near. When he finally understood where his family came from, and what happened to them at Wounded Knee, he was able to overcome the problem with alcoholism. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Native American history and ways or in overcoming obstacles. I rate it at 5 stars.” — Marguerite P. Nico

The author uses impartial and even-handed brush strokes to describe the war within the man and the richness of the red road vs. the poverty of the reservation, and the nearly impossible campaign for balance. The struggles and lapses are well chronicled, as are the historical references. Glimpses of humor, and thoughtful and deliberate weaving of facts, make this a bit more than just a novel. Thought provoking and intense, this reader was enriched by the experience. — Mamalinde 

An amazing find. This is a wonderfully rich story, a personal journey that everyone will be able to relate to. I couldn’t put it down.” — Mary F. Wheeler

Rich and powerful. This book is an incredible experience. It takes you into the world of Native people, completely, and lets you understand. The narrator, Joseph Blue Crow, journeys back to Wounded Knee to seek his own healing. What he found healed my heart too.” – Marcia Meredith

Wonderful and sensitive with a touch of humor. A winner! I had to add my 5 stars to the previous 5 star reviews. This is a wonderful story of a Native American who rose to success as a DJ in the white man’s world but found himself spiritually lost and without meaningful direction. After hitting bottom from alcoholism, he makes an incredible journey to relive the Wounded Knee tragedy and reconnect to his long lost Native American roots. Read this book! It will reach deep into your soul and you’ll never forget it. Wow!”—  Elizabeth Ann Sinkey

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