SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 24, 2012 — /PRNewswire/ – In the summer of 1895, terror gripped the Indian Territories (today’s Oklahoma). The youthful, multi-racial Rufus Buck gang was on the rampage. Their goal: to reclaim Indian lands from US encroachment. A new novel by Leonce Gaiter entitled “I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang” (http://www.buckrampage.com) explores the true story of the Buck gang rampage amidst the surprising rainbow of ethnicities on both sides of the law, and a young America’s political ambitions in the lawless Indian Territory.
Harvard Magazine will feature the book in its spring issue, and the premier site for African-American literature, AALBC.com, called the novel “a page-turning delight.”
Gang leader Rufus Buck was half-black and half Creek Indian. One African-American and three full-blooded Creeks completed the gang. The idea of young blacks and Indians banding together in 1895 to expel whites from Indian lands may seem strange, but turn-of-the-century Indian Territory was not only violent and politically volatile, but astonishingly multi-racial.
“I had first read about the gang almost twenty years ago,” says author Gaiter, whose novel Bourbon Street was published by Carroll & Graf and whose nonfiction has appeared in publications from “The New York Times” to “The Huffington Post.” “The story immediately grabbed me. The novelty of a 19th century multi-racial gang of teens and near teens determined to reclaim Indian lands was irresistible. They were fighting back, but like children would — children who’d learned lessons in brutality, perhaps from those they sought to expel. You don’t hear many stories in American history of the black and brown victims fighting back.”
Even more remarkable was the gang’s involvement with iconic real-life western characters, like legendary “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker and notorious half-black, half-Cherokee outlaw Cherokee Bill. “This was a multi-racial gang of teens who innocently, foolishly and often viciously sought to right a wrong.” In the novel, Rufus Buck’s personal story and his zeal to reclaim Indian lands with the tool he knows — violence –plays against the social and political machinations surrounding America’s grasp for land. The result is a rich historical tapestry, a shocking story of violence and innocence, love and betrayal, butchery and grace.
Gaiter hopes that the novel will expand African-Americans’ view of their own history. “We’ve fallen into this ditch in which our history is limited to views of us as saints and victims. We are infinitely more than that. The Buck Gang was a product of its time, and they were no saints. They are, however, a great piece of history and a fantastic window onto an incredibly compelling and tragic American era.”