The Martyrdom of Collins Catch the Bear

Seven Stories. Jan. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9781609809669. pap. $18.95. LAW
Spence (Court of Lies) relates the circumstances surrounding the 1982 arrest and subsequent trial of Collins Catch the Bear, a young Lakota Sioux accused of killing a white man in the Black Hills. Before discussing his own involvement in Catch the Bear’s defense, Spence describes the bleak childhood that Catch the Bear—born to impoverished, alcoholic parents on the Standing Rock Reservation—spent in foster care and boarding schools, a peripatetic existence that led to struggles with alcohol, drugs, and crime. Spence lays out the scanty evidence against the defendant, the conflicting stories of the eyewitnesses, and the political climate surrounding Catch the Bear’s involvement with Russell Means’s controversial American Indian Movement (AIM). As Spence takes readers through the defense team’s investigations, he shares the thought processes that shaped his conviction of Catch the Bear’s innocence, along with his suspicions of a deeper conspiracy.
VERDICT At times meandering and lacking the amount of detail about the case some readers might wish for, Spence’s book nonetheless thoughtfully portrays justice both manipulated and denied in this sharp indictment of the treatment of indigenous people.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month