The Banker and the Blackfoot: An Untold Story of Friendship, Trust, and Broken Promises in the Old West

Written by J. Edward Chamberlin
Review by Elicia Parkinson

In the late 19th century, the border separating Canada and the United States was largely ignored by American traders and the Blackfoot people. Chamberlin’s memoir about his grandfather, Jack Cowdry, details the relationship he had with Crop Eared Wolf, renowned Blackfoot warrior, as he entered into Fort Macleod, a small town in the southwestern area of what is now known as Alberta province. The longtime media portrayal of “cowboys and Indians” and their fabled contentious relationship did not apply to Cowdry and the Blackfoot; rather they formed a friendship that continued for many years—through the time and changes that came to the Blackfoot territory, and the commonwealth created between the settlers and indigenous people. Canada ultimately broke their word to the native people, but before 1905 there was a vein of confidence and high regard running between all parties living within the territory.

Chamberlin’s memoir shows a time when mutual respect meant more to people than borders, when language differences were rarely seen as barriers to communicating, and when a simple white banker and mayor and a Blackfoot horseman could live in harmony on the same land without politics.

Recommended for anyone particularly interested in Canadian history.