Category: Pathfinders

The Spirit of the Wolf — The American Indian Scout

Howdy! And welcome to another Tuesday blog. Before I go into the most interesting part of the blog and tell you about the awesome abilities of the American Indian scouts of old, I wanted to mention that I’ll be giving away an ebook of THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF. Just leave a comment and you are automatically entered into the drawing for the book — remember to look over the Giveaway Guidelines at the right side of this page.

One other important point:  I rely on you to come to the blog tomorrow (Wednesday — usually at night) or Thursday to see if you have won.  Unlike some other sites, we don’t necessarily contact you if you are the winner.  So please do check back.
apachescout4The reason why I’m giving away the ebook, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF is because it is a book about a hero who is, among other things, a scout.  In researching this profession, I ran across some extremely interesting abilities that these men of old had.  Now, I find it interesting, indeed, that these men could tell from a mere trail the thoughts, health, etc. of the man/woman/animal who had left that trail.  This information, some of which I’ll quote, comes from the book, THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, by Tom Brown, Jr., a man, who as a young boy was taken under the wing of an old Apache scout, and who was trained by that man as a scout.
 Grandfather is what Mr. Brown called this old Apache scout.  So this passage is from this book.“(Grandfather) defined the tracking that we had done as typical or novice tracking, but the tracking of the scout was defined as master tracking.  Even at the onset, the difference became obvious.  Grandfather told us that the earth was like an open book, filled with stories.  These stories were written not only in the softest ground but also on every other type of soil even on rock…”arikarascoutMr. Brown goes on to say, “To this day, the greatest tracking thrill of my life was when Grandfather first showed me how to read track “compressions” in impossible soils and on solid rock…”And here is where one really begins to learn about the old American Indian Scouts (those scouts who worked for the United States army were not the scouts of old). Anyway, again, another quote from THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, “You must stop looking at the tracks as lifeless depressions in the ground. Instead, and you have noticed inside of the track is a tiny landscape.  There are hills, valleys, peaks, ridges, domes, pocks, and countless other little features.  These features the scouts developed into a science, that which they call the ‘pressure releases.’  It is through these pressure releases that the scout can know everything about the animal or man that he is tracking.  The scouts of my clan could identify and define over four thousand of these pressure releases, and I know of no peoples of the earth that have been able to do the same.

curlycrowscoutMr. Brown goes on to explain in his book how these pressure releases can be read and identified, and he goes on to say that because man or animals are stabilized by their feet on the ground, they are always in motion and always having to keep balance — even to the tiniest of moves.  It’s because of this constant need to keep balance and shift that produces the “pressure releases.”IndianScouts2Mr. Brown also says that he and his friend, Rick, who was learning about tracking also, would start to identify their own moods and look at the pressure releases and note the difference between that mood and some other emotion — and study their own tracks — he says that everyone became a source of study.

He even mentions that “Grandfather taught us to expand our awareness and tracking beyond even that level.  He would stand beside a tree, point to a missing limb and ask, “How long ago was this done?  What did it and how?  What direction did the cutter come from?  Was his axe or saw dull or sharp, was he right- or left-handed, what degree of strength did he have?  Grandfather told us that we should always hold one question in our minds at all times:  What is this telling me?”

Charles EastmanIndian&boyscoutsBy the way, the picture to the left is a picture of a young Charles Eastman, a Sioux Indian, who became a lawyer for his people.  I believe (please correct me if I am wrong) that it was Charles Eastman who had a hand in establishing the Boy Scouts long, long ago.  If he didn’t establish it, he certainly helped to create it.  Charles Eastman also wrote several books with the help of his wife, whom he met in collage.  She was white.  I believe some time ago, there was a television story concerning Charles Eastman and his wife, and I believe that Adam Beach played the part of Charles Eastman.  This was an interesting fact to learn for me, because I have never really known that the Boy Scouts came to us from the American Indian — I had never stopped to consider it until I read about it from either one of Charles Eastman’s books or another book.

adambeachascharleseastmanAt the left here is a picture of Adam Beach playing Charles Eastman.  : )

Well, that’s all for today.  Next blog I’d like to tell you a little about the water dance of the scout.  Did you know there was such a thing?  I can’t help but think sometimes that it is a shame that one culture coming in will often destroy the culture that is there already.  There is so much we could have learned from the American Indian of old.  I always look forward to these blogs so that I can tell you a little about what I’ve learned because I think it so vital to keep these things alive.

SpiritoftheWolf-The-R -- first draftAnd so today, I’m giving away a free e-book of THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF, one of my stories that delves deeply into the scout and how this influences the heroine of the story.

So come on in, leave a comment, and let me know what you think of this very vital role of the American Indian culture, the Scout.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075Q76CYJ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1505744070&sr=8-2&keywords=The+Spirit+of+the+Wolf+by+Karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: September 19, 2017 — 6:40 am

The Pathfinders – James P Beckwourth


James Beckwourth

Born a slave, freed by his master/father when he was 26 years old. Mighty nice of his father to release his son from slavery, huh? By all accounts though, the father was good to the son, taught him to hunt and fish, found an apprenticeship for him, and was genuinely a father to him.

The year he received his emancipation papers, In 1824, Beckwourth joined up with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and headed with an expedition to explore the Rocky Mountains.

A story told by a trapper, in 1825, told of Beckwourth being born to the Crow Indians then stolen by the Cheyennes. Thus began a life so full of tall tales—many of them told by Beckwourth himself—that it’s long been hard to separate fact from fiction. A truth that applies to almost all mountain men as they often had their legend doctored up by the press and by dime novels celebrating them.

That same year, Beckwourth claimed to be captured by the Crow. Another version of this story is he was mistaken as the kidnapped son of a Crow chief and taken into their tribe.

Beckwourth embraced this lore by dressing as a Crow and he soon married the daughter of a Crow chief. By his own account he had four wives. He remained with the tribe for about ten years and rose to the position of Chief, a very powerful and respected man.

And then he went back east and joined the army and took part in the Seminole War, that lasted about five or six years. Then he went to California, then part of Mexico for a few years until a war broke out and he returned to the United States and went back to work for the Army.

James Beckwourth, Crow Chief

And then the California Gold Rush began. Did Beckwourth go and dig for gold? Nope. He opened a store. It was always said that the store owners were the ones who really got rich most reliably in a gold rush.

During the gold rush years Beckwourth worked as a Store keeper, professional gambler, rancher, hotel keeper, and (YAY!) author

One long winter a judge named Thomas Bonner stayed in a hotel in the town near where Beckwourth was ranching, in a town that became Beckwourth, California. During those cold evenings, Beckwourth told Bonner his life story.

It was published in 1854 as The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth: Mountaineer, Scout and Pioneer, and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians. Many believe the book is little more than tall tales but there is a look at those days and Beckwourths adventures in it. And the book helped etch Jame Beckwourth in history. The book is still available for sale today on Amazon and I’ve got a ecopy! $0.99!

A particularly interesting fact about this book…though there were many books about mountain men, this is the only one in existence narrated by the mountain man himself. All the books about Kit Carson and John C Fremont and others were written by others while the men the books were about had no idea the book was even published.

 

 

 

Beckwourth Trail, note Reno as the right. This pass is the current route of California State Highway 70, and a branch of the Union Pacific Railround

 

Also during this time the lifelong adventurer did his most well remembered pathfinding. In 1850, Beckwourth discovered what came to be called Beckwourth Pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountain chain. And this discovery is what brought Beckwourth to my attention and set me to researching him. My upcoming series, High Sierra Sweethearts, takes place along this pass.

Beckwourth didn’t just discover a way through those rugged mountains. In 1851, he improved a Native American trail that began near Pyramid Lake and the Truckee Meadows east of the mountains, climbed to the Beckwourth Pass, went along a ridge between two forks of Feather River, and passed down to the gold fields of northern California. The trail spared the settlers and gold seekers, about 150 miles and several steep grades and dangerous passes—including it bypassed the Donner Pass (whew!). This was about four years after the tragedy of the Donner Party

James Beckwourth died at near age 70, while leading a military party to the Crow Tribe in Montana. A tough, adventurous pathfinder to the end.

He has been immortalized with a Postage Stamp and also makes an appearance, slightly altered, in the TV Miniseries Cenntenial and the movie Revenant includes a fictionalize mountain man in the image of James Beckwourth.

 

Updated: June 14, 2017 — 12:55 pm

The Pathfinders – John Colter

Cimarron Legacy Facebook2The first true pathfinders on record were Lewis and Clark.

I say ‘on record’ because one of the rarely talked about aspects of American history is how many European people were here that simply faded into the inner continent and were never seen again. They aren’t on record. and of course the land had many native people. Again, no records.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t find paths, or that the people who came from other continents and vanished were dead.

Like all the mystery surrounding Roanoke, the simple truth was, people didn’t always stay on the shore. Sure Plymouth Rock was 1620, but there was a lot of exploration going on between Columbus in 1492 and the Pilgrims.

We don’t hear much about that because those people didn’t write things down.

When Lewis and Clark set off inland in 1804-06 they were keeping records, they charted their course, they drew maps, the recorded distances, they reported back and the word spread. They were the first pathfinders across the Rocky Mountains. Not, of course, counting all the Indians from that area who knew plenty of good paths.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition ended in St. Louis but the Pathfinder I want to talk about today, John Colter, a member of that expedition, never made it back. Instead, in the Mandan Village in present day North Dakota, Colter met up with two explorers and, with the blessing of Lewis and Clark, turned around and headed back west. His association with these two explorers didn’t last long and Colter turned to head back toward civilization and was a week out from reaching St. Louis when he met Manual Lisa—who later founded the Missouri Fur Trading Company, on his way to the Rocky Mountains.

Colter joined up with that party and headed back to the wilderness. Obviously a man who liked wild places. He traveled to the Teton Mountains, spent months alone in the wilderness and is considered by many to be the first mountain man.

Colter is most famous now for a journey he took in 1807-08 when he became the first known person to record his exploration of a region that contained Yellowstone Park. Except he didn’t record it well.

Colter was a tough man, no one could deny it, but he was a man of tall tales. In fact he was so widely known for his Colter 1exaggeration that NO ONE BELIEVED HIM when he spoke of Yellowstone as a land of geysers, bubbling mud and pools of water that steamed.

The exact area where he explored is somewhat vague but is almost certainly in or near Yellowstone with his wildly told tales of thermal wonders. Did hundreds of people rush off to see these wonders?

Nope, they laughed. They nicknamed this ‘fictional’ area Colter’s Hell.

One of his more famous exploits is known as Colter’s Run.

In 1809 Colter was captured by hostile Blackfeet Indians. He was stripped naked and told to run. Only he wasn’t being let go, he was running for his life.

A fast runner, Colterm ran for miles, naked and exhausted, chased by the  Blackfeet who’d captured him. He was soon far head of most of the group but one man was close enough Colter attacked. Here is an account written eight years later by a man named John Bradbury:

“Colter suddenly stopped, turned round, and spread out his arms. The Indian, surprised by the suddenness of the action, and perhaps at the bloody appearance of Colter, also attempted to stop; but exhausted with running, he fell whilst endeavouring to Colter 2throw his spear, which stuck in the ground, and broke in his hand. Colter instantly snatched up the pointed part, with which he pinned him to the earth, and then continued his flight.”

Blackfeet continued their pursuit. Colter reached a river five miles from where he’d started the run and hid inside a beaver lodge. He emerged after dark and walked for eleven days to a trader’s fort on the Little Big Horn.

Even after this near death experience, he stayed another year in the wilderness, but finally in 1810 he returned to St. Louis. He’d been gone nearly six years. Colter found his old friend William Clark and reported all he’d seen. From this report a map emerged. Though there were inaccuracies, a better map of the region didn’t come along for seventy-five years.

 

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The Prequel novella to kick off my new series Cimarron Legacy

BODEN BIRTHRIGHT smTHE BODEN BIRTHRIGHT

After the death of his wife, prosperous businessman Chance Boden heads west along the Santa Fe Trail with his son to escape the powerful, controlling hands of his in-laws. He has plans to establish his own ranch, but instead he finds work with Frank Chastain, owner of a vast amount of land.

Chance doesn’t want to work for anyone, but Frank’s beautiful daughter gives him reason to delay buying his own holdings. With winter coming, no home in which to live, and Veronica’s offer to care for young Cole while Chance learns the ways of successful ranching in the desert, Chance has little choice but to accept the Chastains’ offer to stay on.

When Frank is attacked, his dying wish is that Chance marry his daughter, but after dealing with his in-laws, Chance isn’t going to let anyone come between him and his son. Then Frank’s precarious hold on the land he received as part of an old Spanish Land Grant forces Frank to make a desperate choice to save Veronica’s inheritance–and also gives the men who attacked Frank reason to come after him.

And coming soon and available now for preorder

Cimarron Legacy Book #1

No Way UpCimarron Leg Bk #1 No Way Up

When Cimarron ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, only the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Before leaving by train to receive treatment to save his leg–and possibly his life–Chance demands that Heath read the patriarch’s will and see its conditions enforced immediately. If Chance’s three bickering adult children, Justin, Sadie, and Cole, don’t live and work at the home for an entire year, ownership of the ranch will pass to a despised distant relative.

Before long, however, Heath discovers that the avalanche may have been intentionally set–and that more danger lurks ominously. Finding his own future–and a desired future with Sadie–locked up in saving the Cimarron Ranch, Heath and the Boden siblings must work together against outside forces that threaten them all.

Coming

July 2016

Updated: May 17, 2016 — 10:42 pm

Pathfinders – John Mullan

Mullan

Lt. John Mullan

If I wanted to I could write forever on this topic because there’s so much and I find it so FASCINATING.

Pathfinders. That’s the nickname for Kit Carson and he was famous in his day in dime novels, the stuff of legends.

These men who opened the west.

I’m researching a book right now that I want to set near Lake Tahoe and it’s just led me down bunny trails until I’m reading all about these bold men.

Do you realize there really was no way across the Rocky Mountains? I mean sure, there were many Native Americans who lived there and knew how to avoid falling off a cliff, but it was completely unexplored territory when Lewis and Clark set out. Much is made (in my world) of Sacagawea meeting by purest chance, her brother, who showed Lewis and Clark a way across the Rocky Mountains. And this way was treacherous, no good path, they did get their horses across but no wagon could have made it.

Lewis and Clark were going in blind and found their way.

This is just one example of the bravery and curiosity…and the near miracle necessary to get across those mountains.

Mullan Road

Mullan Military Road

Oregon Trail Wagon Train 6

Oregon Trail

What caught my attention just now was The Mullan Military Road. I just bought a book about it and, let’s face it, this has NOTHING to do with Lake Tahoe, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to get background out of it. I can’t wait!

I know, I’m weird. Or maybe writers are weird, that this book about a 180 year old road has me excited.

The Mullan Road was the first road built across the Rockies in the Pacific Northwest. Lieutenant John Mullan, a surveyor and engineer was put in charge of making a narrow trail across the Rockies passable by wagons. This was in 1852, after the Oregon Trail had meandered north to a less treacherous pass.

Lt. Mullan went in with a wide view of what he wanted to accomplish. He was already, in 1852, thinking of a trail that could handle a railroad. Highly educated, a West Point Graduate, highly honorable, his clear, detail records of his explorations were invaluable to the others exploring the area.

Lo Lo Pass

Lo Lo Pass

I just included this map of another pass Mullan found called Lo Lo Fork or Lo Lo Pass because of Hell Gate…what in the world did that river do to earn that name? Yikes.

 

Anyway, back to Mullans. He was able to learn the Flathead and Pend d’Oreilles languages quickly and worked well with the Indians in the area. He had the assistance of a guide named Gabriel Prudomme who was the son of a a Cree woman and French-Canadian trapper. Prudomme had been adopted into the Bitterroot-Salish tribe, at the time called Flatheads. Lewis and Clark had been so focused on a water route through the Rockies that they hadn’t asked the right questions of the Indians, who knew of other, less difficult passes, but never mentioned them because there was no river. Then later kept secret out of distrust and dislike of the explorers. (and seriously, who could blame them?)

Prudomme trusted Mullan enough he led him to passes that Native people had previously kept secret from white explorers. The Mullan Trail led from Ft. Benton, now in Montana, at the time in Dakota Territory, and led to Ft. Walla Walla in Washington. And one of these days I’m going to set a book along here!

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a $15 Amazon gift card.

Runaway Bride

Runaway Bride

$1.99 –ebook only

Big John Conroy is a Texas Ranger asked by a friend to assist Carrie. He catches up to Carrie and her brother Isaac and races away from a dangerous man who will stop at nothing to make the beautiful young woman his wife. Soon Big John’s feelings for Carrie turn to more than simply protective, and Carrie finally feels that she’s in the presence of a man she can respect–something she’s never known. Fans of Mary’s

BODEN BIRTHRIGHT smThe Kincaid Brides and Trouble in Texas series will enjoy catching up with those characters.

Runaway Bride is my contribution to the already released novella collection With This Ring?

The Boden Birthright

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After the death of his wife, prosperous businessman Chance Boden heads west along the Santa Fe Trail with his son to escape the powerful, controlling hands of his in-laws. He has plans to establish his own ranch, but instead he finds work with Frank Chastain, owner of a vast amount of land.

Chance doesn’t want to work for anyone, but Frank’s beautiful daughter gives him reason to delay buying his own holdings. With winter coming, no home in which to live, and Veronica’s offer to care for young Cole while Chance learns the ways of successful ranching in the desert, Chance has little choice but to accept the Chastains’ offer to stay on.

Updated: May 17, 2016 — 10:44 pm
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