“Riversong: The Epic Saga of the Evolution of Montana’s Upper Missouri”
By Alice Colton
Alice Colton’s “Riversong: The Epic Saga of the Evolution of Montana’s Upper Missouri” explores the history of human existence along the Upper Missouri River from the time of the first people to the homestead era. The book is a nominee in the First Book category of the High Plains Book Awards.
Colton imagines her tale from the perspective of a river stone (variously called “the stone with the golden eye” or the “obsidian form of a black horse with a golden eye”) on the bank of the mighty river that watches the remarkable changes wrought to this region by the presence of human beings. She has carefully researched the archaeology and history of each period and offers interesting vignettes from prehistory to the 19th century.
The most compelling sections are those that concern Native Americans — The Indians, 1790, and Flight of the Nez Perce, 1877. She has a wealth of information on Native peoples and gives a very complete account of these times.
Colton is an accomplished writer who tells an important story about Montana’s history and people. I hope someone shares a copy with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who could learn from the valuable lessons it offers about the place of the land for Montanans and Westerners.