White Eagle's Touch is a definitive study of some of the Blackfoot
Tribes that inhabited the Montana portion of the Northwest Territory in
the 1830's. Their customs, traditions, and the interaction among different
bands form the backbone of this story. The central core of White Eagle's Touch is the love story between a young lady from New York and a Pikuni warrior.
The story opens in a law office in New York City where 19-year-old Katrina
Wellington had been informed that her money is exhausted. Worse news is that in
order to claim the inheritance which will finance her dowry; she and her fiancÚ must travel to Fort Union in the Northwest Territory to secure her uncle's approval of her fiancÚ. Since her uncle controls the purse strings, Katrina has no choice but to comply.
Katrina blames the Northwest Territory for the death of her parents who
were killed in a flash flood, and she bitterly blames her uncle for sending
her east to grow up alone in the care of servants. Her betrothal to Lord
Leicester is a match of convenience made at the bank. She is exchanging her
inheritance and dowry for his title. It is fortunate that Katrina does not believe in the
concept of love since it is so clearly lacking in this arrangement.
Lord Leicester also needs money badly enough to make the trip. Surrounded by his
entourage of hounds and servants, if he were not such an oaf he would have
brought comic relief to this book. Katrina on the other hand is willful,
spoiled, untamed, pampered and yet na´ve. An unkind person might readily
conclude that they deserve each other as they tediously make their way
Meanwhile, back in the Territory, Katrina's uncle has made arrangements for
White Eagle to meet the party and escort them further westward. The canny
uncle is a fur trader and believes Lord Leicester won't last the journey. He has
chosen White Eagle because he is a friend and because White Eagle and
Katrina had been close as children.
The westbound party makes it way by ship, and while waiting to disembark,
Katrina observes White Eagle. She is stunned at her own reaction to this
"beautiful male," but quickly resumes her role as a shrew. Outraged
that her uncle has not met her, Katrina makes an effort to find other ways to
travel, but finally has to accept White Eagle as her guide.
The attraction between Katrina and White Eagle soon becomes heated, and she changes from a dragon to a very compliant "sits beside him woman" in the Indian tradition. Of course there remain a few details to work out -- like her betrothal, and the impossibility of a life style she doesn't feel she can embrace.
White Eagle's Touch is steeped in Indian culture, and the main characters finely
drawn. Unfortunately, little attention is paid to the secondary characters. But what troubled me the most was what seemed like a sudden metamorphosis of Katrina from spoiled shrew to loving tigress. The idea that love alone can bring about this kind of transformation in such a short time was not convincing. But if you are interested in this period in Native American history, you might find this a compelling read..