by Rick Steber
Published by Carroll & Graf, December 2005
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 the Chief a Cadillac explores life on the reservation for three brothers—the alcoholism, violence, greed, and madnessbrought on by the white man’s treatment of the tribe, and each brother’s response to the termination settlement. Creek, college-bound and disgusted with reservation life, wants to take his money and run toward success in the white man’s world. Chief, who represents the worst of reservation life, plans to spend his money on a new Cadillac and as much booze as he can possibly drink. Pokey, keeper of the Klamath traditions, plans on refusing the government payout and staying on his people’s land. The brothers’ separate plans send them on course for a deadly collision when the government money finally arrives.
Rick Steber is an author of 29 books, has received numerous awards including the Benjamin Franklin Award. He is a member of the Western Writers of America and has served as an advisor for the U.S. Department of Education in setting up national educational standards for U.S. history. Rick donates time visiting schools, talking to students about the importance of education and the need to preserve the country’s history for future generations. He writes from a cabin in the Ochoco Mountains in Oregon. Rick is married and has two sons.
"There’s no happy ending, just Steber’s powerful, depressing portrayal of government duplicity and reservation poverty, alcoholism, anger and despair.”
-- Publishers Weekly