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Woman of the People

Benjamin Capps

Publication Year: 1999

A Woman of the People is one of Texas’ best-known and most-respected novels. In this story of the Texas frontier, Capps dramatizes the capture by a Comanche band of a ten-year-old white girl and her five-year-old sister from the upper reaches of the Brazos River a decade before the Civil War.

As the narrative progresses, Helen Morrison slowly—and almost unbeknownst to herself—goes from being a frightened, rebellious white girl to becoming “a woman of the people.” Like many of the people who figure in true-life Indian captivity narratives, Helen adopts the ways of the Comanches, marries a member of her small band, and becomes a major figure in tribal life.

A Woman of the People parallels in some ways the real story of Cynthia Ann Parker, who was taken by Comanches, married Peta Nocona, and became the mother of the celebrated Quanah Parker, the last great chief of the Comanches. But unlike the real-life Cynthia Ann Parker story, where many mysteries abound, the novel takes the reader inside the mind of the main character, and we are allowed to grow with her as she forgets her white heritage and Helen and becomes Tehanita (Little Girl Texan).

Published by: TCU Press

Title Page

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CONTENTS

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pp. viii-

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1. West Toward the Setting Sun

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pp. 3-24

THE TRINITY RIVER empties its clear water into Galveston Bay, a good harbor on the Gulf of Mexico. In 1854 the people who lived along the lower Trinity might enjoy many of the products of civilization, for they were in touch with all the world through...

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2. Winter on the Goodwater

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pp. 25-45

THE HOME CAMP of Ute Killer's Mutsani Comanches that winter was in the rough country along a small stream which was called, so Helen Morrison would come to learn, Goodwater Creek. Across the divide above camp lay Badwater Creek, fed by a...

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3. Winter When the Buffalo Hid

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pp. 46-65

HELEN TEHANITA had come up on the gentle divide above the travel camp to pick prickly pear apples. She had not been told to do it, but having picked them with great trouble at times during the past two years, could not now pass up this field where the apples...

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4. Incident at Medicine Mounds

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pp. 66-83

SHE WAS disturbed because she had lost count of the years. After not thinking of it for a long time, she had suddenly felt that it was important, but upon trying to separate them out and count them, she could not. All those times when the weather was not...

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5. Mountains That Wander Away

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pp. 84-104

DURING THE Moon of Howling Wind, on a day when the sky was brown with blowing sand, the N awkoni People, who had been camped south of the river and had been on a fall raid against the whites, broke camp and fled north. They were widely scattered...

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6. One Spring in Blanco Canyon

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pp. 105-118

SOMETIMES she worked at a job that demanded all her attention and engaged even the deep parts of her mind so that she forgot to nurse her hatred and her secret designs. She would forget her reason for wanting to be a good worker and to be known as a good worker...

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7. Winter in the Sand Hills

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pp. 119-136

THE LODGE of Lance Returner was a peculiarly lonely place. It was as if a hole were torn in each of their lives. The four women would come to a silent place in their talk, and after a moment their eyes would glance at the place where he might have lain or sat....

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8. The Wide Mouth Raid to Mexico

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pp. 137-151

SHE FOUND it both easier and harder after her deed during the Lipan attack. Every member of the band now accepted her in the way that the members of the Lance Returner lodge had accepted her before. They spoke freely to her. If, at her work, she started to lift...

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9. The Offer of Nine Horses

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pp. 152-166

SOMETIMES a piercing loneliness came through her from viewing the skies in the summer nights. The other women of the lodge wanted skins over their beds, or a thick leaf roof, but she would move away a little distance to be under open sky, seeking some nameless...

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10. Message of a Metal Horn

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pp. 167-180

THE OCCUPATION of her life had been simple hard work, keeping the lodge tidy, mending, gathering and preparing food, tending the fire, tanning skins. Without realizing it she had been the best worker in the Lance Returner lodge, and the reason had been...

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11. Story Teller

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pp. 181-195

THE REMAINDER of that winter was difficult because of their inadequate shelters, but the trouble which they feared most, shortage of food, did not develop. Buffaloes were plentiful. The men could go out any day and kill one within a few hours' ride from camp...

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12. Return of Ute Killer

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pp. 196-206

THEY BROUGHT V te Killer back on a robe suspended between two long poles, carried front and rear by horses. He was badly wounded, with two bullet holes through him, one in the chest and one in the bowels. They brought him gently, slowly, carefully over the...

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13. The Winter of Living in Graves

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pp. 207-226

THE NEW MEXICO traders had been there and gone. They had been nervous about something, had been unwilling to name a time and place for another trading session. The Mutsani men took their extra hides and dried meat to trade at the other Indian villages...

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14. The White Banner

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pp. 227-242

IT WAS midsummer when the Kwahadi brave rode into their camp, followed by his two wives who rode a single horse. The wives were crying. The Mutsani scout Who guided them in had not spoken much to them because of the embarrassment of the women's unseemly conduct. The strange brave rode to the center of camp...

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Afterword

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pp. 243-

THE FIRST TURNING POINT in Helen Morrison's life in captivity comes when she runs ahead of the other women to touch the downed buffalo and cries, ':Ah-heh!" For the first time since her capture, she forgets her past and becomes a Comanche. Then she remembers...


E-ISBN-13: 9780875655185
E-ISBN-10: 0875655181
Print-ISBN-13: 9780875651958

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 1999

Series Title: Texas Tradition Series