No one knew how the blue-eyed, blond-haired white baby came to be abandoned, but the Crow tribe that found him raised him as one of its own. As he grew into adolescence, White Weasel was taken to Crooked-Bear, a white man who had long ago abandoned society for a solitary mountain existence and who acted as counselor to the Crow elders. Under Crooked-Bear's tutelage, White Weasel was schooled in white ways and rechristened John Ermine. Frederic Remington's compelling tale relates Ermine's successful reintroduction into white society, his heroic exploits as a scout in the military, and his growing interest in a white lady, Miss Katherine Searles. In his love for Katherine, Ermine must face the complexities and inequalities of American society. Although American culture may well laud Ermine's military prowess and personal integrity, since he is "wild" he can never truly rise through the ranks of society. It is inevitable that Ermine's story ends in tragedy. John Ermine of the Yellowstone is both an epic Western in the classic sense and a complex tale that captures the conflict between European Americans and Native Americans in the Wild West.
John Ermine is the tragic character caught between two cultures, unable to assimilate fully into either. Famed artist Frederic Remington uses his pen to convey the irreparable stalemate between two groups of people in an untamed West while making a moving argument for the preservation of a truly wild western front.
Frederic Remington (1861-1909) is best known as a painter, illustrator, and sculptor of iconic images of the American West. Gary Scharnhorst is a distinguished professor of English at the University of New Mexico, the author or editor of more than thirty books, and past president of the Western Literature Association.
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