The Hero’s Journey, so eloquently chronicled by Joseph Campbell, has served as the narrative structure for tall tales from ancient Greece to John Irving. TURTLE, COYOTE, RAVEN and RINGO follows just such a construct. In the tradition of Tom Robbins, author, Lon Seymour, marries the authenticity of the Native American plight, both historical and contemporary, with the foolhardiness and irony of modern contrarieties, both real and fictitious, and guides the reader on an excursion, both heartbreaking and hilarious. The novel is narrated by the three infamous Native American deities and tricksters: Turtle, Coyote and Raven. It merges actual history and imagination, the irrationality of real events in times past and the ludicrousness of modern human absurdity. Thus, the story is enriched via Native myth, Colorado and New Mexico history, chronicles from the Indian Wars, and tall tales about Buffalo Bill Cody, The Brown Palace Hotel, Lookout Mountain, and Red Rocks Amphitheater, at which The Beatles performed during the summer of 1964.
Anthony Hands of the Bear, a local handyman and Papago expatriate, is instructed to expand a bathroom at Red Rocks in anticipation of huge crowds attending the concert by the Fab Four. He accidently knocks down a wall and discovers an ancient Indian tomb. A jurisdiction dispute between The Denver Police, Denver Parks and Recreation, The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, The Golden Police and a fictitious group, The Red Rocks Rangers, threatens to leave the tomb unguarded against looters. An Indian fraternity, hosting The Four Corners Intertribal Powwow, gets wind of the discovery and the tomb’s vulnerability. They decide to intervene; however, they are thwarted by a bureaucratic mix-up and left stranded in downtown Denver. Undeterred, to expedite their trek to heroism, in the name of gallant patronage, they highjack a city bus. Sadly, none of these sons of ancient scouts, not one of these descendants of Sacagawea, Geronimo and Crazy Horse, not a soul uncle of Uncas, knows the way to Red Rocks. Pursued by the police, lost and frustrated, still in their powwow regalia—loin clothes and war paint—when seeking directions, they are subjected to racial indignities. In retaliation, they attack Mount Vernon Country Club, a symbol of White colonialism. Troy Three Rivers, a Wyandotte, lawyer and organizer of the powwow, reluctantly drives the stolen bus and leads the raid on Mt. Vernon. Soon, news of the uprising is broadcast on radio and TV. Others rally to aid the Indians; including, The Beatles themselves, a comely lady anthropologist and psychopharmacologist, recently returned home from the jungles of the Amazon, an opportunist and proprietor of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Bar Grill Trading Post and Texaco Station, and two brothers from New Orleans, Tchoupitoulas—the Mardi Gras Indians. Establishing backstory, Willie Wolf Song, a Hunkpapa Sioux and protégé of Sitting Bull, centrally contributes to the rebellion and plot by pursuing, in life and beyond the grave, for numerous haunting decades, a vendetta against Buffalo Bill.
The hero’s journey gives structure to the odysseys of various characters, and mystical journeys provoke the question: Who among the leaders of the conflicting “tribes” will fulfill their quest for heroism—the rebellious Natives, the zealous authorities, or The Beatles, as prime movers of the New Age?