Email this review


No man has ever known more about the Plains Indians than George Bird Grinnell, or has written about them more vividly. Here in one volume are reprinted excerpts from his accounts of life in the Pawnee, Blackfoot and Cheyenne tribes as he himself knew them, in the days before they were firmly penned on reservations. Grinnell's love affair with the Indians -- and the West -- began in 1870 when, a Yale undergraduate, he joined Professor Marsh's first fossil-digging expedition into the country of the unsubdued Sioux. Protected by Pawnee scouts, the expedition emerged loaded with fossils, and on young Grinnell's part, with a determination to learn more about the Indians. ""The task I have set myself is that of recording,"" he wrote, and record he did, with the eye of a reporter, the knowledge of a trained anthropologist, and the pen of an inspired historian. He lived in Indian lodges, hunted buffalo with braves, ate Indian food, and from grandmothers learned folk-legends and tales of the West before the white man came. Much of his most famous book, The Fighting Cheyennes, is here included, in particular his delightful account of domestic life in Cheyenne villages, and the story of Bent's great fort on the Arkansas, as he heard it from George Bent, son of William Bent, who built the fort. An unsurpassed record of a long vanished ""way of American life,"" this volume will be welcomed by seasoned historians and teachers of Western history, and is a must for all beginning students of the early West.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1961
Publisher: Scribner