Cover photo of Red Power: A Graphic Novel by Brian Wright-McLeod | Image source: Fifth House Publishers
Brian Wright- McLeod’s Red Power: A Graphic Novel talks about the responsibility that is felt by many Indigenous peoples to defend Mother Earth from the people who want to destroy the earth by cutting down forests to build new cities and highways. The story’s main focus is on the modern corporate mining effort that is trying to push Indigenous people off the land that they reside on and that their ancestors fought to protect. The graphic novel follows the resistance movement to stop the mining effort in Star River led by committed Indigenous warriors. Among the Indigenous people fighting for the land is Billy Moon who is an urban Indigenous youth who leaves the city to reconnect with the land and to fight for the people of Star River. During a police raid of the warrior camp, Billy and an Indigenous woman named Shelly Two Stars form a partnership to escape with incriminating documents of the tribal council. As the graphic novel comes to an end, Billy and Shelly are being chased by tribal police as well as external agents.
Red Power shows how people can take advantage of power and turn it into something negative that causes disruptions for many- even many generations thereafter, “The four legged thief discovered that the star possessed a power that enhanced his own, and in keeping with his character, he was foolish and careless and eventually lost it to the human beings…the stone passed down from father to son, making many lifetimes of bad medicine men (32)”.
The use of a graphic novel helped the story and reader with visuals, but also the story line. The use of illustrations can bring out emotions from the reader, as well as a deeper understanding of what the author is trying to portray. The illustrations in Red Power are simple, but help with the scenes, and even the characters emotions and how the characters are portrayed in the book.
Red Power was an interesting graphic novel that was difficult to put down, this graphic novel kept you engaged and reading, taking in everything about the story itself, as well as the illustrations.
Brian Wright-McLeod (Dakota-Anishnabe) is a music journalist, radio broadcaster, and author of The Encyclopedia of Native Music. He began working as a music journalist in 1979 and continues to write articles and reviews on Native music for numerous publications including News From Indian Country, Native Peoples Magazine, and the Smithsonian’s American Indian. Based on his own experiences, Wright-McLeod presents Red Power, a graphic novel exploring the physical and spiritual journey of a boy and his Native Movement chapter when they are called in to assist community members caught in the middle of a manufactured land struggle.