Mr. Hubbard’s first published book, and most celebrated western, it pervasively reflects his own experiences growing up in turn-of-the-century frontier Montana, especially his ceremonial induction as a tribal blood brother into the Blackfeet tribe at age six. This watershed novel has been recognized for its unconventionally sympathetic understanding and portrayal of Indian life, mores, and culture; its vigorously authentic historical detail; and its strong, pioneering environmentalism.
Addressing the stereotypes of the Western novel, the following excerpt from Hubbard’s comments in the (original) 1937 preface is worth noting:
“It required a peculiar kind of courage to condemn one’s own race, a worse kind of cowardice to malign men dead these hundred years.”
“But, my interest has been, primarily, with the Blackfeet.”
“I cannot forget everything I have found to their credit, and in this book I have tried to present them, not as they are, but as they were at the height of their power—the mightiest body of fighters on the plains; the truest of gentlemen.”