Halfbreed: The Remarkable True Story of George Bent : Caught Between the Worlds of the Indian and the White Man
The uncommon life of George Bent-"halfbreed"-spanned one of the most eventful epochs in American history. Caught uneasily between two cultures in constant conflict, it is a life mirrored in the fictional character Jack Crabb in Thomas Berger's classic novel Little Big Man.Born in 1843 to the prominent white trader Colonel William Bent and his Indian wife, Owl Woman, George Bent was raised as a Cheyenne. After receiving an education in white schools, Bent fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and went on to become a Cheyenne warrior. He survived the horrific 1864 Sand Creek Massacre-and then fought for revenge with the ferocious Cheyenne Dog Soldiers. Bent later served as a prominent interpreter and negotiator for whites and an adviser to tribal leaders. He rode side-by-side with the great Indian leaders Red Cloud, Tall Bull, and Roman Nose, and he hobnobbed with frontier legends Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, and George Custer.Toward the end of his life, George Bent felt a passionate need to set the historical record straight and preserve the memory of the Cheyenne Indians as a free people. The greatest historians and ethnologists of the day sought him out to hear and read his stories of the Cheyennes. George Bird Grinnell, George E. Hyde, James Mooney-all agreed that what they knew of nineteenth-century Cheyenne life came largely from George Bent.As a mixed blood, Bent lived between two worlds right up until the time of his death in 1918-never entirely fitting into either world, always on the fringes of both. His story is compelling human drama: action, love, tragedy, war, all unfolding against the epic backdrop of the Civil War and America's westward expansion.