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"If I had not spent my year in North Dakota, I would never have
become President of the United States," declared Theodore
Roosevelt. The future statesman took his first steps toward the
highest office in the land in the Dakota Badlands of the 1880s,
where he began his transformation from aristocrat to democrat.
Roosevelt left his home in the East as Theodore, but he returned as
"Teddy," a rugged outdoorsman and soon-to-be hero of the Rough
Recounted with infectious enthusiasm, Roosevelt's tales range from
ranching on the open plains to hunting in the mountains. His
reminiscences conjure up the vanished world of the frontier, with
thrilling accounts of chasing bighorn sheep and horse thieves,
encountering Indians, branding cattle, and bronco busting.
Roosevelt's recollections helped elevate the cowboy's image from
that of an ordinary farm laborer into a figure of nobility and
courage. The works of Frederic Remington, another great mythmaker
of the Old West, illustrate these memoirs. Sixty-five
black-and-white images by this renowned American artist complement
Roosevelt's stories of freedom and self-reliance.
No one knew how the blue-eyed, blond-haired white baby came to be
abandoned, but the Crow tribe that found him raised him as one of
its own. As he grew into adolescence, White Weasel was taken to
Crooked-Bear, a white man who had long ago abandoned society for a
solitary mountain existence and who acted as counselor to the Crow
elders. Under Crooked-Bear's tutelage, White Weasel was schooled in
white ways and rechristened John Ermine. Frederic Remington's
compelling tale relates Ermine's successful reintroduction into
white society, his heroic exploits as a scout in the military, and
his growing interest in a white lady, Miss Katherine Searles. In
his love for Katherine, Ermine must face the complexities and
inequalities of American society. Although American culture may
well laud Ermine's military prowess and personal integrity, since
he is "wild" he can never truly rise through the ranks of society.
It is inevitable that Ermine's story ends in tragedy.
"John Ermine of the Yellowstone" is both an epic Western in the
classic sense and a complex tale that captures the conflict between
European Americans and Native Americans in the Wild West. John
Ermine is the tragic character caught between two cultures, unable
to assimilate fully into either. Famed artist Frederic Remington
uses his pen to convey the irreparable stalemate between two groups
of people in an untamed West while making a moving argument for the
preservation of a truly wild western front.