The Sioux Spaceman

by Andre Norton
Reviewed date: 2018 Aug 2
Rating: 2
146 pages
cover art

Kade Whitehawk is a Lakota Sioux serving as a Trader in the Space Service. Earth is a small player in a galaxy ruled by the alien Styor empire, but the Space Service has carved out a valuable niche sending Traders to Styor-controlled planets. The Styor are hard masters. The official Policy is to turn a blind eye to whatever the Styor do. But Kade can't help but react when he sees the Styor enslaving and mistreating the natives. Later, while waiting to see how the Space Service will punish him for failing to toe the diplomatic party line, Kade wonders why he was ever assigned to a job as a Trader.

Service tests were supposed to be above question, always fitting the right man to the right job. Then why hadn't it been clear that one Kade Whitehawk, Amerindian of the Northwest Terran Confederation under the right provocation would revert with whirlwind action to less diplomatic practices of savage ancestors and handle a Styor lordling just as that alien's decadent cruelty demanded?

Kade expects to get drummed out of the Service, so he is surprised when instead of being fired he is assigned to the planet Klor to replace a recently deceased team member. On Klor, he realizes that the man he is replacing was also a Lakota Sioux, and begins to wonder if he wasn't sent to Klor to avenge the man's death.

Norton doesn't give many specifics, but we learn that on Earth, the white Western civilization bombed itself into extinction. When civilization rebuilt itself, the Federation of Tribes emerged as a leader in a world dominated by Native Americans, Africans, Latinos, and the Chinese.

Anyway. On the planet Klor, the Stylor lords use the native Ikkinni as literal slaves. Kade sees analogues between the Ikkinni and his ancestors. It was the horse that allowed the Native American tribes to successfully resist the European powers (particularly Spain) for so long. The Ikkinni have no horses. Indeed, there are no domesticated animals at all on Klor, nor any suitable for domestication.

Ah, but there weren't horses in America, either. They were imported from Europe in ships at great cost. So that's what Kade does. He gets a rich Styor lord interested in Earth animals, then convinces him to pay for importing a small herd of horses. Kade intends for the Ikkinni to steal the horses, breed them, and use them to fight for their freedom.

And it works. Sort of.

For reasons I wasn't clear about, the Styor lords decide to slaughter the horses and murder the human Traders. But Kade and the horses escape into the mountains. Kade finds a confederation of free Ikkinni and gives them the horses. Then Kade is rescued by the Space Service, where he's let into a secret: despite the official Policy of overlooking Styor brutality, there is a centuries-long Plan to undermine the Styor empire. Kade's actions on Klor have proved he is worthy to join the small cadre of secret agents who carry out this Plan. Would he like to join and spend his life working for the eventual downfall of the Styor Empire and the freedom for mankind and for all the peoples of the galaxy? Of course he would.

The cover art depicts Kade Whitehawk as an older man, whereas in the context of the story he is just starting his career as a Trader. I would judge him to be in his twenties or early thirties. And he certainly didn't wear a feather headdress. Oh well.

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