“The Indians Won” — A Blast from the Past — And a Shout-Out to Law Students

At Sam Deloria’s mention, I found a copy of the long out of print 1970 novel by Martin Cruz Smith (better known for the Arkady Renko mysteries), “The Indians Win”, and read it. It’s a short read. And fun. The edition I have includes commentary from the author who states he researched Indians for a couple months, then wrote the novel in one month. Not to give away the plot (spoiler alert), but in this fictional world, the Indians win. Yeah, the ‘Nishnaabes don’t get much play — it’s all Sitting Bull and Stand Watie and Wovoka — but the Potawatomis get a few good ones in.


For those not in the know about this novel, here is a quick plot summary. In 1876, rather than Custer’s Last Stand being the Indians’ last stand, all the remaining Indian tribes of the plains and the far west band together. Armed with European arms smuggled down from Canada through Dakota, the Indians win a bunch of military clashes with a post-Civil War American military that doesn’t put up much of a fight. It all ends up with … You guessed it … The Indians winning. Speculative fiction at its early 1970s best and funnest. The best part of the subplot is the 1952 declaration by the “Indian Nation” that they have bomb, but are unwilling to prove to the world they have the bomb by testing it because to do so would unnecessarily injure Mother Earth.

It reminds me of the National NALSA moot court competition. Year after year, law students gather to compete in a fictional world that could be like the one where “The Indians Win.” If you’re like me and you think of this reality as one reality in a universe of infinite parallel … universes, then why can’t the Indians win after all? How else could a dude like me marry the most beautiful and brilliant Odawa woman in the world?

In the end, I say this — have a great competition, law students. The National NALSA Moot Court Competition should be fun. Anything, absolutely anything can happen. US News rankings fly right out the window. Make friends, renew old friendships, network like crazy, and crush your opposition with an iron boot.

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Fiction, Student Activities and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “The Indians Won” — A Blast from the Past — And a Shout-Out to Law Students

  1. emmaonawa@unetus.com says:


    I was intrigued by this book so I tried to find it in my local library system, which covers SE Minnesota. No copies available. When I widened the search to the entire state, there was one copy available at an academic library in St. Paul. I also did a search on ABEbooks.com (I avoid buying from Amazon) to see if I could buy it. I figured it would be pretty cheap. The best price was $30 and the upper price was $477. Many were first editions. So, if you have a copy hang on to it.

    Emma Onawa

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