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.