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By Carol Brodie
AAI Open Book Club 

Open Book Club Presents Theodore Catton

 

February 8, 2018

SEELEY LAKE - Theodore Catton, associate research professor of history at the University of Montana, will be reading from and discussing his recent book "Rainy Lake House, Twilight of Empire on the Northern Frontier," Saturday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Grizzly Claw Trading Company sponsored by Alpine Artisans Open Book Club. There is no charge and all are welcome. Seeley-Swan High School senior Jasen Sokoloski will open for Catton reading his poem "Down the Bottle."

Rainy Lake House was a fur trading post on the border of the United States and Canada west of Lake Superior which was most active in the late 1700's and early 1800's. In this character driven narrative, Catton weaves together the captivating stories of three men who cast their fortunes in different ways during the fur trade era. Through the lives of Dr. John McLoughlin, physician for the Northwest Company (fur traders), Major Stephen Long, with the US Army Topographical Engineers and John Tanner who was stolen from his white family when he was nine and raised among the Ojibwa, the history of this period is vividly portrayed.

The book speaks to the underlying doctrine of western expansion – the Euro-centric view that divided all of humanity into civilized or savage (indigenous) and allowed the "colonizing" state the sovereign right to claim territory including all the indigenous, non-Christian and non-European people. Catton explores attitudes towards native culture which deteriorated over time and became almost a policy of apartheid perhaps underlying the principle of the reservation system. He discusses the demoralizing effect of liquor on the native people and it's purposeful use by the fur traders.

This book is so much more than a chronicling of the time of the fur trade. It presents an authentic picture of that time with its adventure, deprivation and violence.

Please join the Open Book Club and visit with the author of this incredibly researched and annotated book this Saturday.

 

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