I really liked The Surrounded. It's very lit-heavy, and it fits quite nicely with other "required reading" of the time. Except this one has somehow filtered out of scholarly concious. McNickle gives a raw impression of Salish life ... and while I'm quick to question the authenticity of some of the portrayals, I believe that there is a real passion in this novel.
There is a lot going on here as well. From criticism of Christianity to a preservation of the old traditions to murder, the Leon family deals with a lot. But it never felt muddled or rushed in any way. Usually plotlines this rich make me wish the author would have focused in on one or two points, but McNickle is able to dance skillfully between his storylines without tripping. Even characters that are introduced late in the game feel fully realized and worth the pages dedicated to them.
Overall, I think it a shame that The Surrounded isn't as scholarly prevelant as it once was. As a country, America tends to forget about its Native inhabitants. So do yourself a favor and pick this one up. It's well worth the time.