Buy the book.
“Blackfoot Redemption: A Blood Indian’s Story of Murder, Confinement and Imperfect Justice” by William E. Farr is this year’s winner of the Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize from the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska.
Farr reconstructs the events of a Canadian Blackfoot called Spopee who shot and killed a white man in 1879. Through the narrative, he reveals a larger story about race and prejudice as the transition to reservations began.
Spopee, or Turtle, was captured as a fugitive and narrowly escaped execution. He disappeared inside an insane asylum in Washington, D.C., for more than 30 years until a delegation of American Blackfeet discovered him and gained a pardon from President Woodrow Wilson.
“It is a small story telling a larger one,” Farr said. “For the book is not only about what happened to Spopee, it is also about what happened to the Real People, the Niitsitapi, in this same period as they were confined or imprisoned on their reservation, as they underwent a wrenching transition from freedom to dependence, from communal buffalo hunting to irrigation and reservation allotment. Too often, individual experiences were lost in that transition and are now invisible.”
“(The book) contains a compelling narrative of an individual Native American who was caught up in an alien political/justice system — that of the frontier U.S. — and sets it as part of the larger tribal and settlement histories of the Montana border regions,” said Kari Ronning, one of the book prize judges and editor of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition.
Read the complete news release.