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Publisher's Summary

Beautiful, tender, haunting, and full of excitement, this is the memoir of famed author, explorer, Glacier Park guide, trader, and historian of the Blackfoot Indians, James Willard Schultz. With the Blackfoot woman, whom he deeply loved, from 1880 to 1903, Schultz lived the life of a Blackfoot Indian with Nat-ah-ki and her people. During this time, he began writing for magazines, at times running a trading post, and working as a guide in the West.

He met historian, writer, and naturalist George Bird Grinnell, who encouraged him to write this heartfelt and important memoir. As an ethnography of a people and a time it is invaluable.

Though he would marry again, Schultz eventually went back to live near the Native peoples he'd come to love and is buried in the traditional ground of Nat-ah-ki's people. You won't read another memoir like it.

Every memoir of the American West provides us with another view of the migration that changed the country forever.

Public Domain (P)2017 Big Byte Books
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about My Life as an Indian

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Compassionate Story

Such a very wonderful story! Such a perfect orator. I was surprised and disappointed to have it end!! Excellent, excellent book!!! Thank you so much!!!

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing, Respectful Account of the Wild West

Each chapter is a beautiful short story on a different part of a frontiersman’s life, his cooperation with various native peoples and his interactions with wildlife. The accounts found in this book detail a unique look at how things once were here in wonderful Montana! Cheers!

2 people found this helpful

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one of the best I've listened to

I can not believe that I have not heard of this story before, it is amazing to have this historical perspective preserved by a great book

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Yes!

Loved it. Glad to have had the chance to listen to it. totally worth it

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  • GM
  • 07-18-21

Sometimes a story captivates you

This is an amazing story. I assume 90% of it is true and unembellished and that self-aggrandizement is minimal. The author admits he is not proud of all of his actions so I am sure there is some editing on his part that omits some things. That being said it’s now one of my favorites of all time.

Along with 9 Years Among the Indians and Empire of the Summer Moon and 6 years as a Texas Ranger it stands out as a classic of the American frontier. Like “9 years” it completes a narrative with pathos and emotional intelligence. But unlike the former, it completes the narrative of a full life time.

The author is talented and at various points poetic and touching without being maudlin. He escorts you into the Montana and NW Canadian wilderness through the plains and mountains. He lets you ride, hunt, and fight with him. He lets you experience his fears and sadness as much as his bravery.

It’s a wonderful story.

However, If you listen to it speed up narration to 1.1 or 1.2 speed. I think there is a flaw in the recording or it was recorded before audiobooks were digital. It’s a little slow. Once sped up a little the narrator sounds a lot better.

1 person found this helpful

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Surprisingly Human and Honest

My father pushed me to read this book when I was a kid in the 1960s. He read it as a boy and apparently it affected him. I borrowed the same old beat-up library copy he read but never even glanced through it. Years later I listened to it with increasing guilt. This is an excellent book of its sort, as my father tried to tell me. It is full of details of the Pegan Blackfeet and their neighbors the Crows, of course, but more importantly its characters act in flawed human ways, giving things the ring of truth. Schultz makes no excuses for the various tribes' constant wars with one another. Like the ancient Greeks, warfare is what they expected to happen each year. He participates in killing enemies but doesn't seem to have scalped them--but then who knows?. A few years later Schultz abandons his tearful Indian wife and moves back to New England to live like a white man. He goes so far as to tell his closest friend that after he is gone his wife should marry again. But he can't stand New England anymore and returns to her and the Great Plains for good. She waited for him and the pair become a true love match. Several times he states he is an atheist and no believer in an afterlife--not Pegan beliefs, not Christian ones. When his wife dies near the book's end he writes that he will never see her again, despite her believing that they will meet, and will just have to accept the finality of it. She is totally gone, as likewise the style of life the two of them lead for many years among extended families and friends in Indian camps. This is well worth listening to for 13 hours. If 19th century Indian life interests you, you are foolish if you don't buy this one.

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High school requirement

It took a few chapters to get into the rhythm of the narrator’s voice. It seemed too detached and impassioned. As the story progressed, the voice delivering the story made sense. Somehow, this story needs to get into the school curriculum. Parts of it can start in the elementary school and finish in high school. I will be recommending this book to everyone wondering “why weren’t we taught this at school?” I especially love the chapters that quotes popular writings of the times and then dismantles them piece by piece. This is what history is about. It is built from real stories or real people. This is why rewriting and whitewashing history never holds up to the test of times.

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My Life as an Indian

The worst, monotone reader ever. He’ll put you to sleep. Horrible. He needs another job, quickly

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A trip into the world of native Americans

Wonderful story. It’s not Scot Fitzgerald writing, but it’s true and honest. It’s also a simple tale revealing what it is to be a first American. Did their happiness exceed ours? Very likely as a whole yes. They were born knowing what it means to be human and alive in the wildernesses that was the United States before we “developed” it. Daniel Boone discovered this as did fur traders, mountain men and other whites wandering off the path they we’re supposed to take. What a magnificent natural place they must have seen and experienced. So happy I found this little read book.
William P Gloege
Santa Maria, CA
5/4/2021

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Best audible

A most beautifully written story about his life. I didn’t want it to end. Between the reader and the written word it was one of the most calm, relaxing book I have had the pleasure of having read to me.

1 person found this helpful

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  • T. Little
  • 01-25-18

exceptional book

This is more than a beautifully written account of a buffalo trader's life on the northern plains and adjacent Rockies in Montana and Canada in the post Civil War period-when things changed utterly for the Blackfeet and other Indian tribes, for the whites, and for the buffalo and other wildlife. Shultz gives us a fascinating and sympathetic view of Indian life and culture-things that he embraced as young man-and not all of it peaceful. His account seems genuine and self effacing.

The Indian vignettes and stories that he transcribes for us I found haunting in their beauty and primevalness and humanity. Finally, as noted by others, the description and celebration of his Indian wife and the strength of their marriage must be of universal appeal.

This is a great book. Full of adventure, history, lore, and insight.

Hunt's narration is exceptionally good.