Books by Jan Hudson

DAWN RIDER by Jan Hudson
Released: Dec. 14, 1990

Like Hudson's fine first book, Sweetgrass (1989), a story about a Blackfoot girl on the verge of coming of age, at the pivotal time when Native American culture was being changed forever by the experience of white men. There is just one horse in Kit Fox's village, and no one knows how to ride it. With the reluctant acquiesence of her friend Found Arrow, whose job it is to watch over the horse, Kit Fox secretly gentles it and teaches it to accept her. The Blackfeet don't have horses, but during the book they learn about guns from their Cree allies; when their enemies the Snakes, who do have horses, suddenly attack, Kit Fox is able to save her people by riding to the Cree for aid. Again, Hudson—backed by careful research, as indicated in an extensive bibliography—re-creates the life of this long-ago culture with telling detail and lyrical grace. Even minor characters have depth: Kit Fox fears, with good reason, that the warrior who woos her beloved sister has a cruel streak, but he turns out to be unexpectedly gentle; the relationship between Kit Fox's grandmother and her "co-wife" is warm, revealing, and beautifully drawn. Hudson raises several issues—especially the introduction of guns—implicitly through sensitively written incidents (e.g., the poignantly restrained family farewells before a battle). In the light of history, Kit Fox's hope for prosperity and peace as a result of the new weapons is painfully ironic; Hudson wisely leaves readers to make the connections. A beautifully crafted, thought-provoking novel. Read full book review >
SWEETGRASS by Jan Hudson
Released: April 27, 1989

In a novel based on written records of the Blackfoot Indians in Alberta and Montana during the winter of 1837-38, 15-year-old Sweetgrass abruptly achieves maturity when smallpox ravages her family and she is the one heroically responsible for saving some of their lives. Sweetgrass has long dreamed of marriage with her good friend Eagle-Sun, but her father feels she is not yet ready for the hard work and responsibility that comes with being an Indian wife. Their tribe is at the sunset of established Indian ways; white men have traded useful things such as knives, Hudson Bay blankets, and pots to the Indians, but they have also brought whiskey and smallpox. Hudson seamlessly weaves details of Blackfoot living—food preparation, hunting, sun dance ceremonials—into Sweetgrass' first-person narrative, bringing the warm abundance of summer, winter's bitter hardship, and the old Indian ways vividly to life. In a colorful, lyrical style evoking all the senses, Sweetgrass tells, with strength and tenderness, a dramatic story of coming of age in another time and culture. Read full book review >