is Father Powell's magnum opus. Described as A History of the Northern Cheyenne Chiefs and Warrior Societies, 1830-1879
, this two volume work
was published in 1981 and is still the leading work
on the subject.
am aware that Father Powell has come in for some
criticism among Cheyennes who feel that he has exploited
their culture and disclosed confidential rites.
He has also been damned with faint praise by academics,
with one leading authority upon the Cheyennes dismissing
him as a "buff." (As a buff myself, I
had not realised that this was a derogatory term
until I read it in that context!)
this is a wonderful book, replete with well reproduced
photographs and ledger book illustrations that enhance
the copiously documented text.
first read this book over twenty years ago and re-read
it last year. It has stood the test of time and
is thoroughly recommended to all with an interest
in the Cheyennes and their struggle to protect their
homeland during the middle of the nineteenth century.
It goes without saying that this includes a number
of Custer related incidents, including the attack
on Black Kettle's Washita village, the meeting with
Stone Forehead on the Sweetwater and, of course,
the Little Bighorn.
of Powell's triumphs is to tell the history from
the Cheyenne point of view. This involved not only
research among the standard written records but
also interviews with a number of aged Cheyennes.
He gives the account in a Cheyenne centered way
however without resorting to the sometimes tedious
idiom used by Marie Sandoz.
book has two drawbacks. Firstly, its size. You cannot
take it on holiday to read on the beach! Reading
it is a serious exercise. Secondly, its price. Long
out of print, secondhand copies go for anything
from $100 (if you are lucky) to $500+. Keep an eye
out on e-bay for a cheap copy; you won't regret