Today is Canadian Aboriginal Veterans Day. As is true of the First Nations people of Canada, Native Americans enlist in the United States military at a higher rate than their white counterparts. At least 12,000 Native Americans enlisted to fight in WWI, at at time when they did not qualify for United States citizenship.
Novelist Gerald Vizenor’s trilogy of novels from Wesleyan University Press follow the story of the Beaulieu brothers, Basile and Aloysius. In Blue Ravens they come of age and leave the White Earth Reservation to fight on European battlefields during WWI. Native Tributes follows the brothers as they participate in the Bonus Army March on Washington DC. In his forthcoming novel, Satie on the Seine, Vizenor brings the brothers back to Europe. They seek lives as artists in Paris—only to witness the Nazi occupation of the city.
Satie on the Seine: Letters to the Heirs of the Fur Trade
A Historical Novel by Gerald Vizenor
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Trade Paper, $17.95 / 978-0-8195-7934-8; Ebook, $14.99 / 978-0-8195-7935-5
Basile Hudon Beaulieu wrote fifty letters to the heirs of the fur trade between October 1932 and January 1945. The messages were circulated on the White Earth Reservation. At the end of the war the letters were translated as native chronicles in a six volume roman fleuve, narrative sequence, published by Nathan Crémieux at the Galerie Ghost Dance in Paris, France.
The letters convey the mercy of liberté, the torment and solidarity of Le Front Populaire, the Popular Front, an alliance of political leftists, and the contest of ethos and governance in the French Third Republic. Basile relates the massacres of Native Americans, and the misery of federal policies on reservations to the savage strategies of royalists, fascists, communists, and antisemites during the eight years before war was declared against Germany, and to the end of the Nazi Occupation of Paris.
The letters to the heirs of the fur trade during the war reveal the cruelty and deprivations of the Nazi Occupation, the fearsome Prefécture de Police, persecution of Jews, and the eternal shame of the Vélodrome d’Hiver Roundup. Maréchal Philippe Pétain, the Vichy Regime, and betrayal of résistance networks are condemned, and at the same time the littérature engagée of Romain Rolland and liberation of the French Third Republic are celebrated in the last emotive letters.
About the author
Gerald Vizenor (Chippewa) is a novelist, essayist, and interdisciplinary scholar of Native American culture and literature. He is professor emeritus of American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author or editor of more than thirty books, including Native Provenance: The Betrayal of Cultural Creativity (Nebraska, 2019), and three recent novels, Chair of Tears (Nebraska), Blue Ravens (Wesleyan), and Native Tributes (Wesleyan).