By Kerry Dean Feldman (MAnth'70; PhD'73)
(Five Star, 371 pages; 2022)
Alice's Trading Post is the story of an untamable, unforgettable woman with a wry wit who lived 103 adventurous years. She survives all the west could throw at a woman, fights to be herself, live free, and find love. Treat her with respect; you walk away safe. If not, there will be consequences. Alice never met her young Army of the West officer father stationed in Oregon Territory, the 1860s. She's raised like a boy by her Canadian trapper stepfather and lovely, feisty, Indian mother alongside the Columbia River. She can shoot a beaver eye at a hundred paces, doesn't know how to cook or sew, can fight blade up with knives, hunt bear on her own never wears a dress. This idyllic life in the Willamette Valley ends when she begins her woman moons, and her family travels across the Mullan Road to wild Fort Benton on Upper Missouri, Montana Territory. Circumstances force her mother to trade her to an old fur trader. Young Alice must learn how to become a woman on her own, wonder if she's Indian like her mother or white like her father. She longs for family, love, and knowing where she fits in a violent Plains era. Alice's stories are found, as recorded by her grandson, under her burnt-out trading post in South Dakota, then transcribed by the Buffalo Gap Historical Society.