Photo: 486.072.0048, Morton J. Elrod Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana-Missoula.
The Surrounded: St. Xavier Boarding School
The center of life was the mission church…. Plain as it was, the hovels which were set against it gave it an air of grandeur…. Each cabin faced the church. Each door—there were no windows—gave a full view of God’s tall house and the cropped poplar trees around it. The newcomers saw only the confusion. (35)
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.