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354 Western American Literature and the luminously smiling Leona, and the slowly unfolding history of Stanley Meixell, the sheepcamp tender, bottle tipper, and ex-ranger who contributes to Jick’s education in human nature and the ties between past and present in the Two Medicine country. All this is handled with a firsthand sense of people and country, a gift for western language in narration and dialogue . . . and humor. For among other qualities, English Creek is filled with subtle comedy—the sloppy herder Can­ ada Dan and his sheepwagon meal (“growed-up lamb,” “mutton,” or “sheep meat”) served to Jick and Stanley, the bronc Coffee Nerves terrorizing the chutes and arena at the Gros Ventre rodeo, the ingrained ineptitude of Good Help Hebner in driving the overshot-stacker team. Western humor also emerges in the vernacular storytelling and conversations permeating this authentic, low-keyed historical novel which links the individualistic turn-ofthe -century Montana past with the amorphous growth, displacement, and standardization of the present. Since English Creek is the first of a projected trilogy of related novels, readers can look forward to receiving additional understanding and pleasure from the continuation of Ivan Doig’s saga of family life in a changing West. ROBERT A. RORIPAUGH University of Wyoming Bear Chiefs War Shirt. By James Willard Schultz. Edited by Wilbur Ward Betts. (Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1984. 158 pages, $8.95.) Unfinished posthumous novels are not usually easily or skillfully com­ pleted by another, whether an imitator, devoted fan, or novelist. This uncom­ pleted novel by James Willard Schultz (Apikuni) is no exception to this rule. The original manuscript left unfinished upon Schultz’s death in 1947 was 62 pages in length, and at the behest of Schultz’s widow, Wilbur Ward Betts, a retired Boeing Aircraft executive and early friend of Schultz, assumed the task of editor. Nowhere in the introduction does Betts give an explanation that this is an unfinished manuscript he iscompleting, and he doesnot indicate, even with a footnote, anywhere in the text where Schultz stops and Betts begins. A reader must assume it takes place somewhere between the end of Chapter Six and the first pages of Chapter Seven, based on quotations from Schultz’sother publications woven into the story. Clearly, additional annotations or lengthier introductory remarks are needed to explain the importance of this book to Schultz’s thirty-seven other works, and the reasons why Betts felt the manu­ script should be completed. Schultz left no outline for the direction the novel was expected to take, a fact also not related in the volume. The story of Bear Chief’s war shirt is well represented in the recorded folklore of the Piegan. Bear Chief by some accounts was its second owner, Reviews 355 but Schultz intended telling of the theft of the medicine shirt by enemies of the Piegan, and the adventures of the war party organized to restore the shirt to its owner. Schultz created a vision, explaining the importance of the shirt to Bear Chief as an individual, and the Piegans as a people. Schultz, in his familiar role as Apikuni, is asked to accompany the war party against the Assiniboine “Cut Throats” (as characterized by the Piegans). This privilege was extended to him because of his special place among the Piegans and the assistance he was to offer in eliminating the obstacles the military or traders might offer to the war party. Betts relies on descriptions of other visions, warfare, and rituals to fill the remaining pages. It might have been useful to footnote all of the known accounts of the war shirt in the published literature of the Piegan/Blackfoot Confederacy. Unfortunately, the distinction between where this volume is “fictionalized,” as the outside promotional description claims, and where efforts are made to portray with ethnographic accuracy Piegan ritual/religious life, is not clear, and this raises further questions about Betts’s intentions. The second half of the book is mechanical and reveals many bare spots, especially in transitions. The quasi-ethnographic description of Piegan ritual life has all the appearances of filler. The volume is illustrated by the interesting drawings and paintings of Glen Eagle Speaker, a Blackfoot...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 354-355
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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