Quick Thought About The Book "Empire Of The Summer Moon"

Man, this book is fantastic. It's a history lesson of the 1800s in Texas told alongside the story of Cynthia Ann Parker who was kidnapped by the Comanches and then "rescued" many, many years later after having become an Indian bride and mother. The book is great for those who grew up or reside in North Texas. She is a "Parker" which begat Parker County, and her Indian husband was Peta Nocona which I can only assume is the namesake of the town north of Decatur.

What I've learned, well, relearned, from this book is how we are all a product of our environment. She was taken by the Comanches as a child and, by all accounts, assimilated into their life wholeheartedly. She became an Indian. She forgot English and spoke Comanche. She didn't want to leave.  After being returned to the white man, she quickly died a sad and heartbroken woman. But beforehand she became somewhat of a freak show as people would gather around to gawk at her whenever she was in town.

Look at those eyes.

And the photo? This is directly from the book as it described her life after being taken from the Indians:

"It was around this time that a photograph was taken of Cynthia Ann and Prairie Flower [her daughter] that would become famous on the frontier and beyond  They [her caretakers] had gone 'visiting' in Fort Worth . . . and landed in the photography studio of a man named A. F Corning. The result was an exceptional and luminous portrait of mother and daughter  In it, Cynthia Ann wears a plain cotton blouse with a kerchief tied loosely at the neck. He broad-straight , medium  brown hair is cropped short . . . . Her eyes are light and transparent. Her gaze disarmingly direct. Again we see the large, muscular hands and thick wrists  What is most extraordinary about the portrait, however, is Cynthia Ann's exposed right breast  at which the black-haired swaddled, and obviously quite pretty Prairie Flower is nursing. There is probably no precedent for this sort of photography on the Texas frontier in 1862. White women were not photographed with their breasts exposed. And even if a photographer had taken such a photo, no newspaper would have published it. This one was different. It became the picture of Cynthia Ann that generations of schoolchildren knew. It is still in wide circulation. The only explanation is that because Cynthia Ann was seen, and treated, as a savage, even though she was as white as any Scots-Irish settler in the South." 

(And thank you to Mark Fitzgerald who gave me the book and left a note buried within it.)