4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Sho-Rap Highway: The Native American Firefighters of Wind River is a non-fiction that provides a compilation of a documented history of the Shoshone and Arapaho (Sho-Rap) Firefighting Crews of the Wind River Reservation. Using gathered information from archived materials, newspaper accounts, historical books, and former Wind River foresters, the author, Robin P. Whiteplume, manages to write a book that mixes autobiography with history.
The book starts off by addressing the problematic public perception that “all Indians (Native Americans) were bad and deserved to be eradicated” which is prevalent during the colonization of the Americas. The book refutes this perception by showing that “Indians” are not savages, but human beings like ourselves. Because of this, the “Indians” are provided employment opportunities like firefighting, which undertakes the prevalent problems of forest fires in the 20th century. After which, the book proceeds to talk about the beginnings of Native American firefighting, which opens up the history of the Sho-Rap Firefighting Crews, from their formation up to the author’s present day experience with the crew.
I like how the author provides parallels between firefighting and military operations, which easily explains the nuances and challenges in Native American firefighting. The book provides authentic photos that draws readers to the firefighters’ firsthand experience, separating readers from the myths of firefighting while retaining the heroic realism of the firefighters. The autobiographical accounts of the author create an impression that the book contains people presented not just as names, but as people who lived, laughed, and cried.
The book is also well-researched as it contains insightful and coherent discussions of the history of early Native American firefighting. The author relies on primary sources and personal accounts of individuals involved in the history. The author attempts to make the book interesting by making a historical narrative of the subject; that is, by presenting history as a story instead of as a list of facts. Unfortunately, the narrative isn’t enough to cover the vast amount of facts presented in the book. As a result, some parts of the book are rather dull to read. Nevertheless, the book manages to capture not just the facts, but also the emotions involved in the history.
The author provides a rich history that emphasizes the Native Americans' grit and determination while bringing them to reality through their emotions. Overall, Sho-Rap Highway: The Native American Firefighters of Wind River is a worthy read due to good research and great storytelling. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I can recommend this book to anyone who is curious about Native American firefighting history, as well as those who wish to become firefighters.
View: on Bookshelves
Like raikyuu's review? Post a comment saying so!