David Hugh Bunnell's Good Friday on the Rez
This past Tuesday, on October 18th, David Hugh Bunnell moved on. Known primarily for his work in creating and publishing popular tech magazines PC World and Macworld, Bunnell has been hailed as a pioneer of "[producing] magazines in the language of the man on the street" by making personal computers understandable to the everyman.
However, what many don't know about Bunnell is that he taught on the Pine Ridge reservation in the '70s and that "[d]uring a 1973 armed standoff between Native Americans and federal officials at Wounded Knee, S.D., Mr. Bunnell smuggled food to members of the American Indian Movement."
Though himself not Native, Bunnell was an activist and had both an interest in and love for Pine Ridge. He had recently finished working on a memior, Good Friday on the Rez: A Pine Ridge Odyssey, that is slated to be released in April of 2017.
Good Friday on the Rez introduces readers to places and people that author, writer, and entrepreneur David Bunnell encounters during his one day, 280-mile road trip from his boyhood Nebraska hometown to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to visit his longtime friend, Vernell White Thunder, a full-blooded Oglala Lakota, descendant of a long line of prominent chiefs and medicine men.
This captivating narrative is part memoir and part history. Bunnell shares treasured memories of his time living on and teaching at the reservation. Sometimes raw and sometimes uplifting, Bunnell looks back to expose the difficult life and experiences faced by the descendants of Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull while also illuminating their courageous resiliency.
Substantive and at times disturbing, Bunnell reflects back to his time on the rez during the violent 70s when he smuggled food to radical Indians at Wounded Knee. Peppered with Vernell White Thunder's spellbinding stories of growing up in a one-room log house with his medicine man grandfather, Bunnell's begs the reader to join in on the poignant conversations about present-day Native Americans.
Good Friday on the Rez is a dramatic page-turner, an incredible true story that tracks the torment and miraculous resurrection of Native American pride, spirituality, and culture how things got to be the way they are, where they are going, and why we should care.
A year ago, Bunnell posted an excerpt of Good Friday on Medium titled "Last Big U.S. American Indian Land Grab."
Up ahead I see dozens of small rust colored objects, too big to be cow carcasses, they appear to be tangled metal sculptures. As we come closer I see they are old cars, or as it turns out, old car bodies, no wheels, no chassis, no engines, and not just any old car bodies, they are all vintage late 1930’s up to 1942 when car manufacturers in the U.S. quit making cars so they could turn their factories over to war production.
My Lakota friend, blood-brother Vernell White Thunder points out a 1940 Ford Coupe, and says, “That’s my dream car. One of these days, I’m going to haul it out of here.”
David Hugh Bunnell was 69.