The Banker and the Blackfoot
A Memoir of My Grandfather in Chinook CountryBook - 2016
In his remarkable and entertaining memoir of his beloved grandfather, Ted Chamberlin conjures up vividly the never-before-told story of a particular time and place not long after Canada was founded. And shows us not only what Canada once--briefly--was, but what it still could be.
This is the story of when "Sorreltop Jack" was friends with Crop Eared Wolf; of two decades, 1885 to 1905, when the people in the foothills of modern-day Alberta--First Nation and M#65533;tis, rancher and settler--respectfully set out to accommodate Blackfoot sovereignty and new settlement, before Canada broke its Treaty promises to the first peoples.
It was a colourful, unpredictable time. Fort Macleod was a small ramshackle town nestled in the heart of Blackfoot territory when young Jack Cowdry arrived and met Crop Eared Wolf--the legendary K#65533;#65533;nai (Blood) warrior, brilliant horseman and sophisticated strategist, who would soon succeed his father, the great statesman Red Crow, as head chief of the Bloods. Friendship and trust became a bond. Here Jack opened his first bank and fell in love with the author's grandmother, Gussie Thompson, who travelled across the country to work as a teacher, her heart open to whatever adventures life could offer her. The new town embraced it all--Sun Dances and social dances, bibles and medicine bundles, horse races and polo matches, and a wild variety of great characters. Here we meet 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, or the Sundance Kid himself might be found at the bar; the taciturn Jerry Potts, unequaled M#65533;tis guide and interpreter; John Ware, successful Black rancher;and Peigan chief Big Swan, irreverent co-conspirator with Jack Cowdry on the satirical newspaper The Outlaw .
Resonant with the power of storytelling, this compelling memoir illuminates the challenges we face now, and the opportunity we still have to uphold the promise made when Canada was founded.