All I See is Violence
by Angie Elita Newell
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Pub Date 16 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 01 Feb 2024
Greenleaf Book Group, Greenleaf Book Group Press
The US government stole the Black Hills from the Sioux, as it stole land from every tribe across North America. Forcibly relocated, American Indians were enslaved under strict land and resource regulations. Indigenous writer Angie Elita Newell brings a poignant retelling of the catastrophic, true story of the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn and the social upheaval that occurred on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1972 during the height of the American Indian Movement.
Cheyenne warrior Little Wolf fights to maintain her people’s land and heritage as General Custer leads a devastating campaign against American Indians, killing anyone who refuses to relocate to the Red Cloud Agency in South Dakota. A century later, on that same reservation, Little Wolf’s relation Nancy Swiftfox raises four boys with the help of her father-in-law, while facing the economic and social ramifications of this violent legacy.
All I See Is Violence weaves love, loss, and hard truths into a story that needs to be told—a journey through violence to bear witness to all that was taken, to honor what all of our ancestors lived through, and to heal by acknowledging the shadows in order to find the light.
“All I See Is Violence brilliantly depicts the harsh realities of life for Native Americans, past and present. Angie Elita Newell is an extraordinarily gifted writer who has authored what will prove to be a timeless classic of literature.”
- Dr. Robert Mallett, author of Mussolini in Ethiopia, 1919–1935
"History tells us what happens at the end of this battle, but Angie Elita Newell makes it personal, especially after witnessing Little Wolf's evolution into a warrior worthy of the storyline's heart. Very highly recommended."
- Readers' Favorite, 5 stars
"This deftly woven debut by Newell offers a deeply personal look at the largely ignored lives, experiences, and histories of Indigenous Americans. Newell skillfully weaves together the perspectives of three main characters...This is a work of art."
- Publishers Weekly BookLife
"Angie Elita Newell’s potent historical novel All I See Is Violence covers a war for land, identity, and justice...the indomitable Plains Tribes face war and the complexities of race, identity, and generational trauma."
- Foreword Clarion
"Newell does a fine job capturing the stakes of these respective conflicts, contextualizing the long struggle between Indigenous activists and a government that refuses to recognize their humanity. A richly orchestrated novel of Indigenous resistance."
- Kirkus Reviews
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Average rating from 46 members
Thanks to Greenleaf Book Group Press and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read and review Angie Elita Newell's 'All I See is Violence.'
Wow. I was not expecting this book to be so very powerful.
It's the Native American experience from the 1870s (and beforehand) to the 1970s told through three intertwining and alternating viewpoints - Little Wolf, a woman Cheyenne warrior and General Custer in the 1870s and Nancy Swiftfox, an indigenous woman living on a South Dakota reservation and teaching in a school three hours away, to and from which she drives daily. The 1870s storyline sees the Native people being ordered into the agencies and many of them resisting which culminates - in this novel - with the Battle of Little Bighorn. The narrative structure for that part of the book sees Little Wolf and Custer coming closer and closer - figuratively and literally - to the climatic part of that story, the famous battle that saw Custer and his soldiers wiped out but Little Wolf and her husband, Swift Fox, and their contemporaries know it's a temporary victory and that ultimately they'll be forced onto reservations. In the 1970s at the height of the American Indian Movement, Nancy Swiftfox, a descendent of Little Wolf and Swift Fox, lives with the consequences of the battles and policies of the US government in the 1870s. She's living with the ongoing racism that exists as she tries to raise a family, maintain a relationship with her jailed husband, her disabled Vietnam veteran oldest son, her supportive father-in-law, and her new, white boyfriend.
The writing is beautiful and compelling and the entire story is heartbreaking. You just wish for a time machine to go back and try to have the European world leave these beautiful people alone.
Following the lives of 3 women in various timelines, as well as General Custer, All I See Is Violence is a historical fiction novel that lays bare a violent chapter in the history of the Sioux peoples, and of Indigenous history in North America/Turtle Island.
Broken treaties, dehumanization, forced displacement and brutal violence features prominently in this novel - past and present. The impact of the multiple narrators really drives home the point that those same attitudes didn’t fade away with new legislation.
I found it really shocking to read how bluntly the dialogue was written in regards to the blatant racism and intent of genocide. The novel forces you to reconcile that feeling with the knowledge that many of these disgusting comments are actually historically accurate. It’s shocking, and yes it’s fiction, but only slightly. It’s not a radical re-telling of history, it’s a humanizing novel to counter the Eurocentric histories that we have internalized even today.
All I See Is Violence is a beautiful story about motherhood, strength, power, and intergenerational pain. It’s blunt and brutal and full of love all at the same time.
There is so much power in this novel, and it will read so differently depending on your own positioning. For me, it boldly challenges the idea of “that’s just how things were done back then.” Violence was wrong then, just as it is wrong now. We look back and pretend as if people were unaware. It takes clear intention to cause the harm that Indigenous communities are still healing today. We knew better then, and we know better now.