When author Kent Nerburn received a phone call from an unknown woman, notifying him that her father, an elderly Native American, wanted to speak with him, Nerburn felt both apprehensive and curious, but nevertheless packed up his car and went. Dan, it turned out, wished for Nerburn to write a book -- not about his own life, necessarily, but about his thoughts, ideas and advice to the world. To Nerburn's surprise, gathering and recording Dan's words would take the form of an impromptu road trip in an ancient Buick over both unmarked roads and terrain that could only be called a road by a stretch of the imagination.
NWND had been on my to-read list for years, and when I saw my library had a crisp, brand new copy I jumped at the chance to be the first patron to lay my hands on it. It is a deserving recipient of the 1996 Minnesota Book Award, and I had a difficult time putting it down. Although Dan was adamant that the book not be about his life or just the words of another "wise, old Indian," the reader is nevertheless afforded sneaking glimpses into his past. Dan provides insight on the ways Native American philosophies are alive and well today in unexpected ways, though generally overlooked and invisible to white observers. Naturally, upon finishing I also wondered who Dan really was, and what became of him following the book's publication, but there doesn't seem to be any information readily available, perhaps by design.