The Old North Trail, Or, Life, Legends, and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians

The Old North Trail, Or, Life, Legends, and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians

The Old North Trail, Or, Life, Legends, and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians

The Old North Trail, Or, Life, Legends, and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians

Synopsis

In 1886 Walter McClintock went to northwestern Montana as a member of a U. S. Forest Service expedition. He was adopted as a son by Chief Mad Dog, the high priest of the Sun Dance, and spent the next four years living on the Blackfoot Reservation. The Old North Trail, originally published in 1910, is a record of his experiences among the Blackfeet.

Excerpt

Introducing an old classic such as Walter McClintock's Old North Trail has proved an interesting, if daunting, task. In 1896 when Walter McClintock began his intermittent record of the American Blackfeet Indians in northern Montana, their unfettered life of warfare and buffalo hunting was just a little over a decade gone. Even as late as The Old North Trail's publication in 1910, the experience of seeing running dark herds of buffalo was less than thirty years old, as close to Americans then as the Vietnam War is to us. Now, of course, we are more than one hundred and twenty years away from such a sight, and the very thought of it seems historical in the extreme.

For Walter McClintock, and Americans in general, the West had changed dramatically. By 1896 it had lost much of its earlier character. Nostalgia scented the air. These were the years that saw the publication of Owen Wister's wildly successful The Virginian (1902) and the national popularity of western artists Frederic Remington, Joseph Henry Sharp, and cowboy artist extraordinaire, Charley Russell. Wild West Shows, including Buffalo Bill's, brought reenactment and history as entertainment. This was the time to salvage monumental western scenery through the creation of national parks, to appreciate western landscapes by developing tourism in the West, and to mark America's material progress by taking the measure of indigenous peoples through anthropological exhibits at world fairs and popular travel literature.

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