Books you have treasured over the years and reread—those characters have become your friends. From the time I was 10, Laura Ingalls Wilder and I were “tight.” She was born in 1867 and died in 1957, and was the standard for all pioneer girls. Her life was part of the expansion of our country from “Little House in the Big Woods,” of Wisconsin, ending up with “These Happy Golden Years,” at Mansfield, Missouri.
There were no shoot-em-ups in the Little House books. The stories described what it was like to live in a covered wagon, or on a farm, and at the mercy of severe weather. It was hard living in the 1870s and 80s. Survival was not a television show, but a day-to-day challenge. These books were to show one side of this life, finally settling in the Midwest. There was no pretense of social significance. They were life and we loved them.
When Laura and her boyfriend Almanzo Wilder went for a buggy ride drawn by two horses, because at 18 Laura had a teaching job 12 miles from her parents’ home, we also fell for that boy. Almanzo drove her back each weekend and, when that was done, in the winter, he drove a sleigh to get her home. He also asked her to marry him and of course she did. No Bridezilla, no million-dollar wedding, a simple brown dress in the country chapel. Afterwards there was a family dinner. They were married and it ended the series for the couple. The reader did not mind because they had become close to Laura and adored Almanzo.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was an author of a weekly newspaper, the Missouri Ruralist, in 1911. She had a position as a columnist and editor until the 1920s. In 1932 she published the “Little House” series while still working and producing product on their farm. She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and I felt I did.
Recently my great brother, Arch, gave me a copy of “Daughter of the Morning Star” by Craig Johnson. He has written the “Longmire” books that were made into a television series filmed up at Las Vegas, New Mexico. If you have not read the books, I highly recommend them. Walt Longmire, a former semi-pro athlete, Marine and Sheriff of fictitious Absaroka County, Wyoming, works with his long-time friend and fellow veteran, Henry Standing Bear. Walt calls him the “Entire Cheyenne Nation.” Henry has a reputation on the “Rez” and is admired by cowboys and cowgirls alike. I have been to Wyoming, and it does not look like New Mexico to me, however, we were all glad they found Las Vegas so appealing.
When they finished the series for television, I was worried the author would quit writing these very interesting characters. It is more than white hats and black hats; you become vested in the philosophy of these individuals. I was not disappointed. The author, Craig Johnson, came through. The “Daughter of the Morning Star” has it all. The main message is that more Native women disappear in Indian country than any other ethnic group. It often does not get the press it deserves because of communication, not getting it fast enough to the F.B.I., whose job it is, or the great distances with bad roads. Also, there is a hesitancy to open up to outsiders.
The story is regular cowboy western with a slight touch of mysticism. I love it and the quality of the Cheyenne language that comes through is beautifully done. You will become a believer if you get a chance to pick up a copy. I confess, I read it in one sitting—no putting on supper, not getting the laundry done, and eating a lot of chocolate. The tears came as well as the smiles. The Roaring Mouse, waiting with anticipation for the next one. Cowboys and girls rule. Out.