The Banker and the Blackfoot: An Untold Story of Friendship, Trust, and Broken Promises in the Old West
Hardcover – December 4, 2018
The Banker and the Blackfoot conjures up vividly the never-before-told story of Fort Macleod, the surrounding Blackfoot territory, and the foothills during roughly two decades, 1885 to 1905, when the people living there―First Nations and Métis, rancher and farmer―respectfully set out to accommodate Blackfoot sovereignty and new settlement―before the Canadian government broke its Treaty promises to the Indians. There were many friendships in this time and place, both among town residents and foothills settlers and the police, and between many of them and the Blackfoot. It was here that the self-made banker John Cowdry―J. Edward Chamberlin’s grandfather―met Crop Eared Wolf, the legendary Blackfoot warrior and brilliant horseman, and their friendship and trust formed a lasting bond. Cowdry later became the town’s first mayor, and Crop Eared Wolf succeeded his father, the great statesman Red Crow, as head chief of the Blood tribe.
Fort Macleod embraced it all―Sun Dances and social dances, bibles and medicine bundles, drums and piano recitals, horse races and polo matches, and rodeos to celebrate both the horse culture of the Blackfoot and the skills of the cattle range. The town was full of great characters, including Madame Kanouse (Natawista), admired for both her influential intelligence and her stunning fashion sense; Kamoose Taylor, hospitable patron of the Macleod Hotel―where Francis Dickens, son of the great novelist Charles Dickens, and the Sundance Kid himself were found at the bar; Colonel James Macleod, commander of the North-West Mounted Police; the taciturn Jerry Potts, unequaled Métis guide and interpreter; John Ware, a successful black cowboy and rancher; and the renowned Peigan chief Big Swan.
Full of wisdom, passion, and insight, The Banker and the Blackfoot compellingly portrays a time when many people in that part of the Old West looked for ways of getting along with each other and getting on with the things that mattered to them all. Their remarkable story offers hope for all of us today.
About the Author
J. Edward Chamberlin is professor emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was Senior Research Associate with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, and has worked extensively on indigenous land claims in Canada, the United States, South Africa, and Australia. His books include If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground; Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations; and Island: How Islands Transform the World. He lives near Vancouver.