Indeh is a fictionalized, graphic novel account of the Apache-American battles of the 1870s. Although told primarily from the Apache perspective, time and presence are also given to the non native Americans: from explorers to settlers to US government troops, the Apache faced what would be later recognized as an unstoppable onslaught. But notable is that neither the whites nor the Apache are vilified here – both were pushed and pushed back and performed terrible acts as a result.
The introduction by author Hawke notes that this was a labor of love he wished to one day turn into a movie. That falling through, the concept was fleshed out through the work of illustrator Greg Ruth. His clean black and white work complements the story perfectly and focuses on reality rather than idealization. There are no pretty characters here, just a lot of misunderstandings, betrayals, and bloodshed.
The purpose of the book was to dispel so many of the myths about that time and place – ironically, eschewing Hollywood sentimentality and over-generalizations. For the most part, it succeeds in that we have a balanced view of terrible acts committed by both sides. E.g., an Apache will just as quickly shoot an unarmed friend for trying to talk sense about a situation – as an American soldier will lie and betray in order to put down the ‘Apache menace’. Where it fails is that we still have underpinnings of ‘Indian mysticism’ – e.g., Apache talking to animals and knowing their time of death.
For me, I respected that this wasn’t preachy and set out the story in a straightforward fashion that clearly was based on historical evidence and facts. The story did not drag and there were great moments of pathos throughout. The artwork was beautiful and something to be enjoyed rather than glossed over. Great for both its historical perspective as well as a good story, I highly recommend Indeh. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.