No piece of writing that I published while editor of a literary magazine did I enjoy more heartily than “Plastic Indian” by Robert J. Conley. It is simply a hoot and a half! And few friendships did my late wife and I enjoy more than our friendship with Robert Conley (1940-2014) and his wife Evelyn after they moved to Sylva, North Carolina, so he could serve as the Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies at Western Carolina University. Conley was not only the most prolific and honored author among enrolled members of a Cherokee tribe, he also wrote the official history of the Cherokee Nation. This collection begins with Conley’s essay, “What It Means to Be Cherokee,” followed by ten Cherokee tales, a radio play, two cowboy western stories, and four speeches. “No writer, Native or otherwise, understood Cherokee history better than Robert J. Conley. He was always able to breathe life into his characters in a particularly vivid way. His outlaws and lawmen, heroes and villains are always memorable and never one-dimensional. Every story in Plastic Indian is satisfying and complete.”—Joseph Bruchac.
Norman: The University of Oklahoma Press, 2018. 158 pages with a Foreword by Geary Hobson. Trade paperback.