A Woman of the People by Benjamin Capps


Word Press
This book, set in the 1850s and 1860s, tells the story of a Texan girl kidnapped by Comanche raiders and incorporated into their band. She’s initially determined to escape, and continues to feel that she has some sort of duty to escape, even though she becomes part of the band and falls in love with and marries a man who later becomes their chief. It’s written rather simplistically, as if it’s meant as a “young adult” novel – which apparently it isn’t, although I gather that it’s sometimes been used as a set text in American schools – but it tells the story well, without either making it seem that the whites are all bad or making it seem as if the Native Americans are all bad.

It also doesn’t a big deal of the fact of a relationship between a white woman and a Native American man. The story of a female child taken captive must be easier to write than that of an adult woman taken captive, though, as adult female captives were almost always raped, whereas the child in this story was treated as if she were a daughter of the band, and married a man she genuinely liked.

She never goes back, so we never get to see if she’d have been able to settle back into life amongst white people, although it’s pretty clear that she wouldn’t have been. She stays. And the Comanche band are forced to settle for life on a “reservation”, after white hunters kill both their horses and the area’s herds of buffalo.

The author tries hard to tell a story, not just the fictional story of a character but also the story of the life of a Comanche band at the time, rather than to present a case for or against any group of people or any culture. He pretty much succeeds.

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