The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse: A Novel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A New York Times Notable Book
For more than a half century, Father Damien Modeste has served his beloved Native American tribe, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man. To further complicate his quiet existence, a troubled colleague comes to the reservation to investigate the life of the perplexing, possibly false saint Sister Leopolda. Father Damien alone knows the strange truth of Leopolda's piety, but these facts are bound up in his own secret. He is faced with the most difficult decision: Should he tell all and risk everything . . . or manufacture a protective history for Leopolda, though he believes her wonder-working is motivated solely by evil?
In a masterwork that both deepens and enlarges the world of her previous novels set on the same reservation, Louise Erdrich captures the essence of a time and the spirit of a woman who felt compelled by her beliefs to serve her people as a priest. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse is a work of an avid heart, a writer's writer, and a storytelling genius.
absolved friends in the parish. In turn, Father Damien had been converted by the good Nanapush. He now practiced a mixture of faiths, kept the pipe, translated hymns or brought in the drum, and had placed in the nave of his church a statue of the Virgin—solid, dark, kind eyed, hideous, and gentle. He was welcome where no other white man was allowed. It was apparent, to the people, that the priest was in the service of the spirit of goodness, wherever that might evidence itself. Were he exposed,
are looking now for firsthand and thoroughly witnessed fact.” Father Damien took this information to himself with prideful glee. Father Jude was nonplussed at such enthusiasm. “And who will form the council, do you think?” Father Damien now inquired in the bright tones of a younger man. As though he was still involved in the machinery of the Church, he began to speculate aloud. Some of those whom the old priest named were dead or married. Still, he was not so entirely out of touch as his feeble
last. “Leave us full-bloods alone, let us be with our Nanabozho, our sweats and shake tents, our grand medicines and bundles. We don’t hurt nobody. Your wiisaakodewininiwag, half-burnt wood, they can use your God as backup to these things. Our world is already whipped apart by the white man. Why do you black gowns care if we pray to your God?” All that he said was strange to Agnes, and again she had to question him on each point. The half-burnt wood referred to half-breed people. Nanabozho was
plucked at her sleeves, but she shook them off. She pushed snow away from the stones, the grandfathers, gathered last summer when no one knew what killing sorrows this winter would bring. As for Nanapush, he entered the door and pleasantly announced to the priest, “I have accomplished my end.” When the priest looked amused, instead of chastising Nanapush, the old man was sufficiently interested to want to live just a little longer in order to shock the priest. He rubbed his numb hands, his feet,
that her eyes were spilling over with tears. “I am a priest,” she whispered, hoarsely, fierce. “Why,” said Nanapush kindly, as though Father Damien hadn’t answered, to put the question to rest, “are you pretending to be a man priest?” So then it was out between them, and the fact of it out in the open was tremendous. The tedious balloon, pressing inside of Agnes day after day so tightly, now floated out of her mouth, up into the air. She was instantly lighter, so light that when she took in a