‘Blackfoot Redemption’ wins 2013 Great Plains book prize

May 23rd, 2013 | By | Category: 2013, Arts & Entertainment, Issue, May 23

“Blackfoot Redemption: A Blood Indian’s Story of Murder, Confinement and Imperfect Justice” by William E. Farr is the winner of the 2013 Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize from the Center for Great Plains Studies.

Farr reconstructs the events of a Canadian Blackfoot called Spopee who shot and killed a white man in 1879. Through the narrative, he reveals a larger story about race and prejudice as the transition to reservations began.

Spopee, or Turtle, was captured as a fugitive and narrowly escaped execution. He disappeared inside an insane asylum in Washington, D.C., for more than 30 years until a delegation of American Blackfeet discovered him and gained a pardon from President Woodrow Wilson.

“(The book) contains a compelling narrative of an individual Native American who was caught up in an alien political/justice system — that of the frontier U.S. — and sets it as part of the larger tribal and settlement histories of the Montana border regions,” said Kari Ronning, one of the book prize judges and editor of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition.

Farr is a senior fellow and founding director of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West and professor emeritus of history at the University of Montana, Missoula. He is the also the author of “Montana: Images of the Past and the Reservation Blackfeet, 1882-1945.”

This fall, Farr will deliver a lecture at the center, after which he will be presented with a cash prize of $5,000 and the Distinguished Book Prize medallion. “Blackfoot Redemption” was published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

The Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize was created to emphasize the interdisciplinary importance of the Great Plains in today’s publishing and educational market. Only first-edition, full-length, nonfiction books published in 2012 were evaluated for the award.

For more information, go to http://www.unl.edu/plains or call 402-472-3082.

— Katie Nieland, Great Plains Studies

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