Alone in the Wilderness

Book Reviews of Alone in the Wilderness.

1. "Alone in the Wilderness" is an intriguing story that educates as it entertains. It takes a very positive approach to everyday challenges; dealing with racism, seeking higher education, and finding the relevance of our past in a modern culture. The fascinating part is watching a young man face the grueling physical challenges of surviving a winter in the mountains. This is a thoroughly good book, one that I would recommend to just about anyone. While it is especially geared toward the Native American child, it would appeal to a wider audience. Coming of age--finding the person you are or hope to be--is a universal process felt throughout the world. How wonderful to see this from an Indian kid's perspective." (Shantel Sommers, Cherokee)

2. "High school years can be stressful for all kids, but young Flint Red Coyote, a Native American teenager, feels additional pressure to accept a challenge from his classmates to spend three fall/winter months completely alone in the mountains living as his ancestors had lived. With the help of his elders and a few close friends, Flint prepares for his adventure into the Beartooth Wilderness Area in Montana.

"Integrated into the story is considerable information about wildlife, wilderness skills, Native American culture, and a self conscious teenager's metamorphosis into a confident and proud young man. A story young people can relate to. A story worth reading by young and old alike." (United Lumbee Nation Times, Fall issue 2001)

3. "What a wonderful book! A pleasure to read, and informative too! Very upbeat story. Good book for kids of any ethnic origin." (Rita McFadyean, Blackfeet).

4. "The `old ways' weren't always the `old ways'. Flint finds this out while talking with his grandfather about his upcoming challenge in the mountains alone for three months living basically off the land. He finds out later that maybe some of the `old ways' probably aren't as crazy and old as he may have thought. Growing up in the woods myself I have learned some of the same lessons that Flint learns during his challenge. Probably more than one lesson mind you. Just because in his day and age some `old ways' sound funny or maybe obsolete doesn't mean that they are. Someone came up with a way to do things a certain way long ago because they learned that the `hard way' or even the `easy way' wasn't always the `best way'. Most of the `old ways' still exist and always will, because like the times and life experiences, they change right along with mankind itself and they are lessons that each and every one of us learn like the internet, space shuttles and the electric can opener, not to mention sliced bread, doesn't mean that we can ignore the `old ways'. They are here and now and forever. Just because we may do things different than they may have in the `olden days' we are doing and being the `old ways' because the `old way' is -- AGO, NOW and TOMORROW. In this book Flint learns a lot of the `old ways' by doing things `his way' from experience and general intuition. He learns things about the wilderness that they may have never even thought of in the `old days'. Therefore he learns that the `old way' that he wants to accomplish, his challenge in the mountains, are the experiences he has every day that he wakes up in the woods, whether it be warm in his teepee or hungry and cold in his make shift igloo when he gets caught too far from camp when a blizzard hits. For he is essentially living and creating the `old days'. I end by saying that by reading this book I gained experience in a lot of ways that I never thought a book could share. It is a very interesting book and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone to read, if not just for the enjoyment of reading about this young mans conquest to learn and gather experience in his life to be a better man than even he thought was possible. And all from the challenge of a fellow school mate. I really enjoyed the book and think that anyone who sits down to read it will enjoy it just the same. It is a very good adventure story and written well enough that even someone just beginning to read can get into the experience of being in the wilderness with Flint in the mountains as he learns and understands the `old ways'. (Pan American Indian Association review by Tsani (Panther Looking) Barnard. Vol. 19, No. 1)

5. Flint is a Cheyenne whose family recently moved from the reservation to Billings. As a Native American in a new, non-Native environment, Flint is quiet and chooses to ignore negative, anti-Native remarks. When classmates question the wisdom of the Pilgrams inviting the Indians to the Thanksgiving celebration, he can take no more. The resulting exchange has Flint accepting a bet to take the next semester off from school and spend September 15 to December 15 in a wilderness area, living in a traditional Native way. The book is the story of Flint's preparation for and survival of his three-month adventure alone in the Beartooth Wilderness. Flint learns much about himself and his people. Alone in the Wilderness is one of the best books I've read. Author Hap Gilliland knows Native Americans and has done a wonderful job of weaving the Cheyenne culture into the story. Other than one brief mention of sex, this book would be an appropriate read-aloud for students as young as fourth grade. (Jane Mouttet, Christian Library Journal, No. 2/3, 2002).

6. Alone in the Wilderness is a coming-of-age story with an indigenous focus. Told from the viewpoint of Flint Red Coyote, a teenaged Cheyenne high school student who faces racism from dominant culture peers. Alone in the Wilderness recounts one young man's way of finding the best in himself while discovering through experience a rich and varied heritage of survival skills. Challenged by unfriendly white students to live as his ancestors have, young Flint uses all his resources to plan for the danger of spending three fall-into-winter months alone in the Beartooth Wilderness Area of Montana. Together with his dog O'Kohome, Flint faces a blizzard, hunger, exhaustion, and the theft of his food supply by a bigger mammal (grizzly bear). In the end he helps rescue a friend and finds what he did not know he was looking for, self respect, and a way to appreciate and use his own unique spiritual and physical gifts.

Written by Hap Gilliland, a professor of Native American Education at Montana State University, Alone in the Wilderness has many details of Native American practices and tools that enrich the story. The book is pleasurable to read, and always offers a positive take on the problems encountered. It should appeal to young people of multiple and varied ethnic origins.       The Midwest Book Review, James A. Cox