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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A complex coupling of culture and identity is brought to
life in the riveting historical biography "Halfbreed: The Remarkable True
Story of George Bent", by David Fridtjof Halaas and Andrew E. Masich.

William Bent was one of 11 children born to Silas Bent, a prominent judge,
and Martha Kerr, a highborn of Virginia. The Bent ranch overlooked the
Mississippi River. It not only reflected the affluence of their family, but
was also located on the verge of the West - a gateway to exploration,
expedition and enterprise. It was here that the Bent brothers heard stories
of the great explorers such as Lewis and Clark and the guides who led them
into the vast landscape of the frontier.

With these entrancing tales as his impetus, William eagerly followed his
brothers into the trapper's life. It became clear to them that the fur
trade was a dangerous trade with little profit and so Charles and William
joined a group of independent traders to Santa Fe, N.M. with Charles as the
captain of the wagon train. Although risky, this venture paid off and
became the foundation for a partnership between Charles Bent and Ceran St.
Vrain, a Sante Fe trader and former mountain man. This relationship
transformed the fur trade in the Southwest as it made both men successful
and wealthy legends on the Santa Fe Trail.

William, however, returned to the mountains. It was during one of his
expeditions that he began to think about using fixed trading posts. By
saving two Cheyenne horse raiders from Bull Hump's Band of Comanche, he
also formed an unlikely alliance with the Cheyenne. By establishing his
post, he was able to trade guns, powder and ball, red cloth, trade beads,
tobacco, butcher knives, tomahawks and other necessities for the Cheyenne's
furs, hides and horses. This post, Big Timbers, was the predecessor to Fort
William - the permanent post built in 1832 forty miles west of the
original. It was here that William would meet and marry Owl Woman, the
desirable daughter of White Thunder, the Sacred Arrow Keeper. Among white
trappers, traders, even military men, Cheyenne women were known to be
unmatched for their intelligence, beauty and grace. This fortified his
allegiance to the Cheyenne and his lifelong partnership to their culture
was begun. On July 7, 1843, George, Ho-my-ike (Beaver), Bent was born to
this extraordinary couple.

George Bent truly lived in two worlds. He was educated in white schools and
was a Confederate soldier during the Civil War who later went on to become
a Cheyenne Dog Soldier. Through his eyes, we are able to relive the Sand
Creek Massacre:

"The soldiers were so close George could hear their orders, even their
conversations. God, he hated them. Laughing as if they were on a hunting
party and had cornered their game. All his life he had felt white
arrogance, that smug superiority. But these people were treating his people
like animals. A bullet plowed into the sand just inches from his face.
Enraged and numb to the awful pain in his hip, he jumped up and shouted in
English, "Come on, you goddamn white sons-of-b-------- and kill me if you
are a brave man ..."

His story encompasses many great battles and also introduces the reader to
frontier legends such as Kit Carson and Buffalo Bill.

Later in his life, George would work as an advisor and interpreter trying
to breach peace between the two cultures, but he would never himself feel
at peace or happiness in either separately. He worked to have his account
preserved for future generations and it is through his effort that we are
privy to such vivid detail and a thorough accounting of history in this
biography. Although George is responsible for the preservation of his
story, it is told in fluid narrative by the authors. Their retelling of his
life truly grips the reader with heart-pounding action, engrossing detail
and profoundly looks at the conflict, love and spirit of the halfbreed,
George Bent.

For more information about this biography, contact Da Capo Press at Eleven
Cambridge Center; Cambridge, MA 02142 or call (617) 252-5265.