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 spent the next four years living on the Blackfoot Reservation, the adopted son of Chief Mad Dog, the high priest of the Sun Dance. The Old North Trail records McClintock's experiences among the Blackfeet. Describing daily life, hunts, and ceremonials, it is enriched by vignettes of warriors and medicine men, legends and mythical stories, reminiscences of the missionary Father De Smet, and valuable information on such subjects as societies, proper names, songs, and beliefs. Since its first publication in 1910 it has remained the source par excellence on these proud people of the northern plains.

Excerpt

It was with considerable pleasure that I learned recently of the University of Nebraska Press decision to issue a new Bison Book edition of Walter McClintock The Old North Trail. It is a work of enduring merit that brings us as near as we can now get to the world of the Blackfeet Indians before the intrusion of the white people.

Published in England in 1910, The Old North Trail contains a mixture of stories, legends, and descriptions of religious rituals, all woven into McClintock's personal account of his life with the Blackfeet. He tells of being inducted into the tribe, participating in ceremonies, and living with his adoptive family, balanced with serious anthropological descriptions of social customs of the tribe and the names, uses, and preparations of various herbs and medicinal plants.

The strongest feature of the book is the fact that it contains much more personal detail about Blackfeet daily life than can be found in any other sources from that period. McClintock's detailed descriptions of medicine pipe ceremonies and other sacred rituals offer a truly rare "insider" view of native religion seldom available to the public. McClintock's photography; descriptions of daily life, hunts, and ceremonials, vignettes of warriors and medicine men; reminiscences of the famous missionary Father De Smet; legends and mythical stories recorded in the words of the narrators; and much information on such subjects as warrior societies, proper names, songs, and beliefs add considerably to our knowledge of a nearly lost way of life.

McClintock (1870-1949) the scion of a wealthy Pittsburgh family, is known as an ethnologist who lectured on the Black-

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