Author: James Willard Schultz
Floating on the Missouri:
100 Years After Lewis & Clark
by James Willard Schultz
In 1901, almost a century after Lewis and Clark toiled along the same route, noted writer James Willard Schultz and his Blackfeet wife Natahki (Fine Shield Woman) made a float trip on Montana’s Missouri River from Fort Benton to the mouth of the Milk River, a distance of more than 200 miles. In a small boat, they passed through what is now the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.
On one level, this book is an entertaining travelogue about the river’s extravagant scenery, its plentiful wildlife, and the joy of drifting day after day through wild country. On another level, it is a remarkable record of the vanishing American frontier. Each tributary, island, rapid, and geological formation was the scene of some notable event to Indians or white men, including Schultz himself, who had lived in the area since 1877. Schultz relates those events with verve and dialog as if they happened yesterday. The result is an extraordinary book for travelers and historians alike.
Schultz wrote the acclaimed Blackfeet Tales of Glacier National Park and dozens of books about Indians and the American West. Floating on the Missouri includes an authoritative introduction to Schultz, his writings, and the historical significance of this book, by Montana historian Eugene Lee Silliman.
In 1876, native New Yorker James Willard Schultz followed his wanderlust west to the high plains of Montana in order to hunt buffalo. The 17-year-old Schultz landed a job at the Fort Conrad Trading Post, which did not suit him. Soon, he was living outside the fort's wall with the Blackfeet. Soon after that, he married a young woman from the Piegan tribe and was given the Piegan name Apikuni, meaning "Far-off White Robe." Allegiance to the Piegans was so strong that Schultz even participated in raids against other tribes. Schultz died in 1947 at the age of 88. He left behind more than 30 written works which chronicled life in the American West even as it was disappearing forever.