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Buy the Chief a Cadillac

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  88 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In spare, honest, and picturesque language, Rick Steber sets this Spur Award-winning novel on the Klamath Indian reservation in 1961 just days before the tribe's "termination" by the U. S. government. Each tribal member received a $43,000 settlement from the government in return for the Klamath's 1-million acre reservation and the end of the Klamath's tribal status. Buy th ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 20th 2005 by Da Capo Press (first published August 31st 2003)
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Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it
You know, this book had a lot of potential to provide insights to life on a reservation. It just didn't do it for me. The characters were under-developed and one dimentional (that includes the white ones, so it's not that I didn't "get" them). The writer hinted at a number of topics and contexts, but never took them far. For me, it was like going to a party where you know the names of everybody, but you don't know any of them well enough to start a conversation.

Story line was good, but unsuppor
Nancy Hildebrandt
Aug 06, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This novel is centered around the Klamath Tribes' "termination," in which they lost their tribal lands and federal recognition as a tribe in exchange for a monetary payout to each tribal member. The event is told from the viewpoint of a number of characters, both immediately after the event and many years later.

I hadn't heard of this bit of history before and had to look it up. "Termination" happened in 1954.

I cannot imagine the loss of one's heritage land and n
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goodness gracious, what an enlightening and depressing read. Far from horrible though, Buy the Chief a Cadillac shines a spotlight on the oft neglected truths of North American history: the terrifying robbery that is tribal termination.

You're likely not to know about it unless you've been raised with it or you have been specifically taught it in your college classes. Everybody should read this to understand how harmful the U.S. government's hypocrisy can be within their own borders! It captures
Sarah Thornton
Aug 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Author objectifies teenaged girls.
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Well that was an interesting perspective on the situation. I didn't much like the writing style. I've heard first hand how community members have problems with the book and well yeah I can see why. ...more
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Audio Very descriptive about life on Indian, depressing on how few made it, and historical of life of Indian tribes.
Kimberly Ann
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have given this 5 stars but it was really very sad, with a redeeming ending....The "friendship" is between Pokey, Creek (half-brothers raised by Grandma) & Shasta.... Creek & Shasta come home to the rez from college because of the termination. Creek to claim his pay-off and Shasta to write a story about what "termination" will mean to the tribe & tribal tradition. When Creek & most of the tribe buy new cars and go on a drinking binge with their pay-off money...Pokey & Shasta renew their friend ...more
The Mad Mad Madeline
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book had a lot of potential, but it just fell a little short for me. I would say it's almost exactly a 2.5 star for me, "OK" but on the side of "like".

In terms of the strengths of the book, Steber's description of the animals, the land and the region of Klamath County were absolutely breathtaking. It was obvious to me that he had grown up loving the land and possesses a vast appreciation for the harsh beauty of the reservation. His description language is delicious and reads almost similar
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
This is the last book I completed in 2010 and I definitely could have ended on a worse note. Even though I found the writing a little simplistic and choppy, I still enjoyed the read. The concept is an interesting one to me, especially as I have spent so many years of my life living in such close proximity to Indian reservations and interact with many an Indian in town "off the rez". It is pretty heavy-handed with the alcoholism, but the fact does remain that Native Americans are more prone to i ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Entertaining up to the point of the first brutal, drunken act of cruelty which happens early in this story. I wouldn't have kept reading if assurances hadn't been forthcoming that the bad guy did finish last. Land, traditions, identity and individuality figure prominently in the fictionalized account of the Klamath people. Unfortunately there was more truth in this fiction than I would have chosen. ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Even though Steber ranks this as fiction, one cannot stop the analysis of how much truth is in the story. We are constantly told there is a lot of alcoholism on reservation, but I can't help but compare it to contrived living situations we see - such as some retirement places. Steber also addresses the duplicity that is seen in government actions which is not a pleasant read. Steber's story may have some truth to it but it does not shed a life of brilliance on either side! ...more
Jul 28, 2011 rated it liked it
There is no quarreling with the sentiments the author communicates about the mistreatment of the Klamath Tribe, but as a work of fiction I found it a little disappointing in the end because of the use of a mystery writer's device that in the end turns out to be no mystery at all (three suspiciously coincidental deaths that turn out to be...just coincidental). ...more
Sep 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
If I had not grown up in Klamath I would have not liked this book at all. I didn't like the way it was written (the story line is too simplistic) although the content was pretty accurate as to how I remember the Chiloquin Indians' dismal situation & way of life during the 60's-70's. ...more
Melissa McClintock
one of our "local" authors. Doesn't live here now but grew up in the town I live in when this was still a rezervation.
He is tried and true to Oregon History, the "real" story. He also has a definite quirky but it works way of writing. Maybe one of the last cowboy storytellers?
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
To me this book seems like the adult version of the YA book, The Absolutely True Diary of Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I learned so much about reservation life by reading Alexie's semi-autobiographical book, and this one continues in the same vein. ...more
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Having grown up with this as part of my own history, this book was amazing. Yes, it's fiction. Even Steber says "the book...does not exist." But what a fascinating "look" at what happened, and the effect it had. ...more
Jun 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Excellent historical fiction. Distressing but I imagine quite real.
Jan 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Bittersweet look at The Rez, culture clash, and bad decisions. Spur Award winner.
Feb 15, 2008 marked it as to-read
not a light read about the Klamath Indians in the beginning of the 60's ...more
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Rick Steber, the author of more than 30 books with sales of more than a million copies, has received national acclaim for his writing. His numerous awards include the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Western Novel, Western Heritage Award, Benjamin Franklin Award, Mid-America Publishers Award, Oregon Library Association Award, Oregon Literary Arts Award, Independent Publishers Book Aw ...more

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