Book review: Leaving Ah-wah-nee, by Harlan Hague
Settled comfortably on their old frontier farm in western Kentucky, the pioneer itch strikes Jason and his family. They pull up stakes, head for the promised land of California. There’s gold in the creeks. You just throw seeds on the ground of your new farm and orchards spring up, not overnight, but pretty darned fast.
If it were only so.
Tragedy strikes and the now despair-filled protagonist has lost everything. He eventually finds solace in his rescue of an abused Miwok Indian woman who hails from the beautiful, remote Yosemite Valley. But that creates its own set of challenges, some violent.
You see, there’s a whole bunch of Anglo-American illegal immigrants taking over California and pushing everyone out who have a little color in their skin; especially the ones who have called this place home for thousands of years. They’re now called hostiles. They’re also the ones misnamed “Indians” by Cristoforo Columbo, one of history’s precipitators of genocide.
The author is a professional historian and award-winning novelist. His book captivates you with its detailed authenticity and its insights into how people behave.
The author spins a good yarn with all the right ingredients: loss, love, family, conflict, heroism, villainy, and endurance. You will not be disappointed. I finished the book at 2:30 a.m. and had one of my best nights of sleep in months, taking away peace from tragedy.
However, me-thinks the author runs deeper. He never moralizes or preaches—just lets the story tell the story. But I wonder if the storyline of the union between a pretty decent guy, Jason, and the abused, lovely and loving Tahnee suggests a metaphor for what should have been the gentle merging of two cultures: an energetic immigrant American Manifest Destiny with a nomadic tribalism grounded in its respect for the Earth.
The so-called “Christianity” of these historical, invading White hordes should be questioned. That’s me speaking, not the author. I think.
Time to talk about real reparations?
Daniel Hobbs, writing as Ben Leiter, author of GOD’S BETRAYAL: THE CREDO.