Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Tendoy: Chief of the Lemhis is not only the story of one man but also a brief history of an area and a people. In eleven short, chronologically arranged chapters, David L. Crowder presents the history of the Native Americans in the Lemhi Valley of Idaho, their way of life, their contacts with white settlers of the region, and a life sketch of their best-known leader, Tendoy.

The first two chapters of Tendoy contain important background information. Chapter 1 describes Lemhi social and political customs—what they ate, how they married, and who were chosen as their leaders—and the relations that existed among the different Native American tribes of the Idaho-Montana region. The Lemhis were actually a mixed band of former Shoshoni, Bannock, and Sheepeater tribal members. Chapter 2, the longest in the book, details the origin of Native American-white contact in the Lemhi region. It provides the necessary foundation for understanding Crowder’s thesis—that Chief Tendoy rendered incalculable service to white settlers, soldiers, and government officials and held their respect and trust.

The story of the Lemhis began long before Tendoy succeeded his uncle, Snag, as chief of the band in 1863 at the age of twenty-nine. Crowder presents a concise sketch of the early explorations of such notables as Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who, in August, 1805, became the first whites to encounter the Lemhi. The author also explains...

(The entire section is 600 words.)