Monday, December 20, 2010
The Cave of the Moon
By Nancy McGill
Nan Caffery works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC. She is sent to do an impartial report on a dam project that has a local tribe very upset, since the dam will flood their lands.
In her hotel room is a mask, a reproduction of an Seneca ceremonial mask. For some reason she finds this mask rather disturbing. But even more disturbing to Nan is the handsome, militant Indian man, Larry Audette, who leads the coalition of people opposed to the dam. Larry is openly contemptuous of Nan, seeing her mission as a rubber stamp for Washington authority. And when Nan tells him she has a distant Indian ancestor, he laughs at her, implying she is just an Indian-wannbe.
But when Nan pays her mother a visit, she finds a journal revealing that her great-something grandmother was Young Birch, a Seneca warrior maiden well known to the Indians concerned in Nan's investigation. In fact they have a legend about Young Birch and Nan finds herself the object of one man's obsession with that old legend.
This was an OK story. Nan climbs into bed with her coworker within a day or two of arriving at their hotel, but then soon dumps him and starts dating a local lawyer while making moon eyes at Larry Audette, so she is a bit of a slut. The Young Birch story is actually a lot more interesting that the Nan Caffery story, but it is not given as much space as Nan's story, which was too bad. The stuff about the Seneca masks was kind of interesting, but I can't say how accurate that information was. I remember seeing some pictures of False Face masks in a book and they are rather strange, creepy and oddly attractive, so it was interesting reading a story in which they figure so greatly. But I wish the book had more about Young Birch and less about the gullible Nan.