Red-Boy, a young Indian veteran, returns to the Blackfeet reservation in Montana, still fighting the ghosts of the First World War. But the suffering he sees—people freezing in the brutal winter cold, plagued by diseases that could be cured with food and medicine—drives him to action. Along the way, he makes powerful enemies by speaking out against the abuses and corruption visited upon the tribe. Red-Boy’s enemies retaliate by falsely accusing him of rape and rigging the trial. He is sentenced to twenty years in Leavenworth prison, far from his people and the woman he loves. There he antagonizes a vicious inmate gang leader who thinks the only good Indian is a dead one. With his life on the line, Red-Boy is forced to reach deep within himself to connect with his ancestors and discover his Spirit Medicine. His only hope for freedom is a New England businessman—the adopted son of Curly Bear, a Blackfeet chief—who works tirelessly to expose the lies of those who plotted to convict him. But will he be in time?
Sun-Painted Man is a historical novel of intrigue, with real and fictional characters and events. It is based on actual diaries, court papers and photographs that belonged to the author’s great-uncle, Christian F. Schuster, who lived with the Blackfeet, spoke their language and knew their culture intimately. The novel is inspired by the true story of Red-Boy, also called Peter Stabs-By-Mistake, and by Christian Schuster’s crusade for justice.