Photos: 82-164 (top) and 82-0092 (bottom), Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana-Missoula.
The Surrounded: Leon Family Ranch
Max and Catharine’s son Archilde—a musician in the city—returns to the ranch and the reservation for what he thinks will be a short visit.
[Max] settled down and began to build his ranch. And on that he labored strenuously. In the work of those early years he rarely had anyone to help. It was not laziness, and it was not romanticism. While it was true that the old life was much cleaner than the present existence, it was still hard for a white man to stomach. (42)
McNickle, D’Arcy. The Surrounded. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1936.
About the Book
McNickle spent nine years writing and rewriting The Surrounded. An earlier manuscript, The Hungry Generations, was published in 2008. During his lifetime McNickle was a leading expert in ethnic studies. But he will be remembered most as a ground-breaking writer.
In the Salish language, St.Ignatius is called Snyel’mn, which translates into English: “Place Where You Surround Something.” This description lends itself well to both the title and the theme of McNickle’s novel.
While the settings in The Surrounded are clearly drawn from actual locales, it is understood that the novel—including its places—is ultimately the product of the author’s imagination. The intent of this literary map is to enrich the reading experience by interpreting those places, not to render them literally or definitively.
About the Author
D’Arcy McNickle was born in Montana in 1904 to a white father and a Metis mother. His 1936 novel The Surrounded is the story of Archilde Leon, a troubled young man who returns to the reservation and is caught up in family and community conflicts. McNickle chronicles shifting relationships between Europeans and Native Americans on a fictional version of the Flathead Indian Reservation. The novel was named the 2009 One Book Montana selection and is considered an early masterpiece of Native American fiction.