Join us as we celebrate Native American Heritage month by reading Louise Erdich’s the Night Watchman winner of the 2021 Pulitzer prize.

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Summary

The novel takes place in 1953. Thomas Wazhashk is the night watchman for the Turtle Mountain Jewel Bearing Plant and the tribal chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa (he is also based on Erdrich’s real grandfather). At work, he periodically sees the ghost of Roderick, his former classmate at Fort Totten, a boarding school. Roderick died of tuberculosis after a brutal punishment in the boarding school.

Patrice “Pixie” Paranteau also works for the plant; she assembles jewel bearings. She is the main income provider for her family. Patrice’s father, Pogo, is a person with alcoholism; Pokey is her younger brother; Zhaanat is her mother, who is seen as the keeper of knowledge for their community; and Vera is her sister, who has disappeared after moving to the Twin Cities.