Friday the Arapaho Boy: A Story from History

Written by Marc Simmons
Review by Carol Anne Germain

Simmons, New Mexico’s Historian Laureate, does a fine job with writing this children’s fictional history book. Ronald Kil provides colorfully detailed illustrations that highlight historical elements that add to this true story.

This tale is about Warshinun, a young Arapaho Indian. The Arapaho was a nomad tribe that called its home the plains of Kansas as well as eastern Colorado. In the early nineteenth century, drought became an issue in this area, which required the tribe to travel into enemy territory for food and water. When these Native Americans had to leave abruptly, Warshinun was inadvertently left behind.

The author describes how the young boy spends over a week with no nourishment. Luckily, he is rescued by “Tall Man,” Tom Fitzpatrick. This trapper and trader befriended Warshinun and called him Friday (after the day of the week he found him). Fitzpatrick takes the lad on his work adventures while seeking Warshinun’s family. Eventually, he brings him to St. Louis for schooling and ventures out on his own to locate the tribe. In the end, he is successful and returns the boy. Historically, Friday was an important member of his tribe who strived to keep peace with the white man.