Jesse Spotted Horse is a full blood Lakota. He loves his history and is proud of his people. From the first moment he hears about the Indian Schools, he longs to tell their stories. Getting a grant, he finally realizes his chance to make a documentary film about them.
Kathleen Prescott grew up listening to the legends about the DuBois Indian School. Her ancestor founded the school on the principles of Native Americans becoming assimulated into white society. In her own way, Kathleen is a prisoner of the school, trying to live her life to the standards that her ancestors set for her.
Jesse and Kathleen meet when he comes to the Dubois School to film his documentary. Opposing viewpoints stop them from acting on the instant attraction they feel. It takes a magic brooch and some smoke to enlighten them. For when the smoke clears, they find themselves transported back to 1886 and on the grounds of the Indian school. In their journey, they find that they were both wrong. They were both right too.
Ms. Aitkens does a wonderful job in this story. She manages to show the atrocities that the Native American children suffered at the hands of the people who ran the schools. But she also makes sure to point out that not all the whites who ran the schools thought Native Americans were savages. Some of the teachers understood the dignity that the children should have been allowed to keep. Jesse and Kathleen grow and mature in their understanding of what happened at the schools. They come to see the gray area of life, where everything is not wrong or right, but a mixture of both.
Distant Echoes is not only a marvelous romance. It's a heart breaking glimpse into a generation of Native Americans, who by going to the Indian schools lost their own culture.