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Reviews 259 The Old N orth Trail or Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians. By Walter McClintock. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1968, repro­ duced from the first edition, 1910. 539 pages, illus., map, appendices, and index, $2.95.) W hen an old book re-appears with a new publisher, it is almost a certainty that the two editions will be compared. This should be the case with McClintock’s The Old N orth Trail. Insofar as textual matters are con­ cerned, this book, we are assured, is the same as that published in 1910 and to do more than merely indicate the subjects covered in it would far exceed the space available for this review. In a readable, informal style, these are some of the subjects treated in the thirty-nine chapters: My Introduction to the Blackfeet, My Adoption by Mad Wolf, Mad W olf Gives the Beaver Medicine Ceremonial, Legend of the Beaver Medicine, Reminiscences of Father De Smet, Sun Worship, Marriage Customs, Evening Scenes in the Camp, T he Old North Trail, and Legend of Poia, the Christ Story of the Blackfeet. McClintock, a member of a U.S. Forest Service expedition which went into northwestern Montana in 1896, according to information supplied by the publisher, lived with the Blackfeet on their reservation for four years and was adopted as a son by Chief Mad Dog. In the thoughtful manner of an earlier and perhaps more leisurely time, he provides a 100-130 word sum­ mary of the contents of each chapter. However, the book is almost as significant for its photographs as for the text, and it is at this point that the 1910 edition may surpass the Bison edition. Although I have exhausted the good will of our librarian, I have not been able to obtain a copy of the original through interlibrary loan; consequently the following indictment of the quality of photographic re­ production in the Bison book may have to be withdrawn sometime. The photos in the current edition bear all the marks of either an inept reproduction process or an attempt at what morticians call “restorative art.” (It is not to be inferred that The Old North Trail is a dull, dead book. It is not.) Original photographs do suffer in the course of time; old cameras had their obvious limitations. Nevertheless, there is a directness about them, an honesty in their creases, splotches, and faded features that restorative art cannot improve. The body does not look alive. It looks like death painted over. If this observation proves whimsical and ultimately fallacious, the reader may ignore it and conclude that the University of Nebraska Press has done another good deed in re-issuing a book that surely ought to be in the libraries of all who are interested in the American West. T he work invites comparison with Dan Cushman’s T he Great North Trail of The American Trails Series edited by A. B. Guthrie, Jr., and the 260 Western American Literature two books make fine companion pieces. Cushman excels in the scientific and historical aspects of the great trail paralleling the Rocky Mountains, with particular respects to the white man’s interest in it. McClintock shows the traditional knowledge of the trail possessed by the red man and gives an excellent and moving account of what it meant to live along this “route of the ages—from Asia across Alaska down the Rocky Mountains. . . .” Lou A tt e b e r y , The College of Idaho The War On Powder R iver. By H elena H untington Smith. (Lincoln: U ni­ versity of Nebraska Press, 1967. Bison Paperback, 320 pages, $1.95.) The Johnson County War. By Jack R. Gage. (Cheyenne: Flintlock Publishing Co., 1967. 167 pp. $4.95.) N o single episode in W yoming history has been so thoroughly aired as the Johnson County War. The bibliography and notes in Mrs. Smith’s volume here are indicative of this and from her book too one can see why these events have proved so fascinating. Centered in the Powder River country in the early 1890’s, the conflict underscored with violence and bloodshed a host of frontier...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 259-260
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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