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The Hiawatha

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  91 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Recently widowed, and encouraged by government relocation schemes to move Native Americans off their reservations, Betty takes her four young children from their Ojibwe roots to make a new life in Minneapolis. Her younger son Lester finds romance on the soon-to-be-demolished train, The Hiawatha, while his older brother Simon takes a dangerous job scaling skyscrapers. Their ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 3rd 2000 by Picador (first published May 28th 1999)
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Dwellers of Ahwahnee by Sheryl SealBeyond Bridalveil Fall by Sheryl SealBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealBeyond the World of Man by Sheryl SealThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
Native American Authors
83rd out of 190 books — 123 voters
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichBeyond Bridalveil Fall by Sheryl SealThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieGreen Grass, Running Water by Thomas King
Best Native American/First Nations Fiction
106th out of 349 books — 226 voters

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Community Reviews

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The writing is very good for the most part. Dense, detailed, metaphorical descriptions are very evocative, although they are also unrelentingly dark and depressing. But the book - descriptions, plot, characters - is an exercise in misery. About 60 pages from the end, something nice happens -- which is absolutely terrifying, because, given all that has gone before, there is no reason at all to think that it will end well.
There are some oddities in the writing - within paragraphs and even within
Sadie Montgomery
The story of Minneapolis and the Native Americans who were encouraged to come to the city to work the high beams in the construction of buildings like the IDS tower. One might say that Minneapolis is one of the characters. Anyone who lives in the Twin Cities area will recognize place names, streets, the changing face of the downtown. There is such a wealth of local history here, but it's nothing compared to the story of Simon and his family. A sad novel but with moments that transcend. I think I ...more
Gabriel Oak
Once I got used to the fragmented form, I really got hooked on this novel. The story has its background in the historical fact that Native Americans provided much of the labor for framing skyscrapers in the midwest, apparently because of the myth that they weren't afraid of heights. The plot centers on a family torn apart when the oldest son murders his younger brother in an alcohol-induced rage. After serving ten years in prison, he's paroled, but he can't shake his guilt. The book is brutal in ...more
Treuer's prose is a bit heavy handed in this novel, but the story was interesting. It's about a man returning to his old neighborhood in South Minneapolis after serving a sentence of 15 years for killing his brother. The narrative weaves in and out of the past and present and focuses on the work American Indians did on the IDS tower, the poverty they experienced after being coaxed away from reservations and into the city, and what it feels like to go back.

I especially enjoyed the chapter where
Greg Olson
This is a complex, well written novel. Set in the years following the termination period of 1950s American Indian policy, when thousands of Native Americans left reservations in northern Minnesota to settle along Minneapolis's Franklin Ave. Treuer explores the struggle to create new lives in the city and the ongoing connection his protagonists have to their home "up north."
I felt like this was meant to be read slowly, like you would drink a glass of wine. There is a lot of emotional density to it. I read it in small portions, thought about what I had read for a day or two, and then returned to the book. There were a few minor things that I didn't like (one or two peculiarly worded sentences, a reference that I'm not smart enough to understand, etc.) but overall I enjoyed it. I liked the dual plot lines, past and present, that ran alongside each other. The author ...more
Book Club pick. Good story about the struggles of the Native Americans, in Mpls, in the 60s and 70s.
Aug 15, 2008 Less_cunning rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Less_cunning by: a canadian jesus
this is a deceptively great second novel. perhaps a re-telling of the biblical story of Cain & Abel. perhaps. but a story of urban native americans dealing w/ the legacy of Eisenhower's "termination policy." in america. a brave novel full of heart break, despair and dead ends. becuz sometimes the promise of the american dream can sometimes amount to, and lead to, one big elusive fucked-up dead end.

this is i dare say a great novel written by a class-act asshole. but it is still a great novel
Trudy Ackerblade
David Treuer can sure write!
I liked "Little" better. I found the book almost too sad at times, although moving. I also loved that it was set in Minneapolis, except that there was so much detail that I was distracted by trying to remember the streets myself.
David Treuer was my English Prof. and his charasmatic personality is demonstrated well in his writing. The narrative is powerful. This is one of the best books I have read this year.
Jul 10, 2011 GAMMY is currently reading it
Enjoying this novel based in an American Indian neighborhood in Minneapolis by local writer Treuer.
Ray Red
Nov 09, 2009 Ray Red rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone in need of something compelling
A great and sad novel. A native author whose style is intoxicating.
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David Treuer is an Ojibwe Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the NEH, Bush Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He divides his time between his home on the Leech Lake Reservation and Minneapolis. He is the author of three novels and a book of criticism. His essays and stories have appeared in Esquire, TriQua ...more
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