Through Rushing Water, by Catherine Richmond, is a great novel. I'd already read Spring for Susannah, Catherine's first novel, and I'll say that Through Rushing Water is not a disappointment!
When Sophia Makinoff, teacher at a girl's college, was disappointed to learn that she would not be the wife of a future Congressman, she decided to become a missionary to China. When the Board of Missions sent her to minister to the Ponca Indians in the Dakota Territory instead, she was quite disappointed.
However, Sophia was world-traveled and understood cultural differences, so she had no trouble adjusting to the Ponca ways. Quite quickly, she began to love the children she taught there and felt protective of them due to their horrific treatment by the US government.
Willoughby Dunn was a carpenter hired by the Ponca Agency to build homes, barns, and other buildings for the Poncas so they could learn how to provide for themselves. He had worked for them for a few years and taught them how to build. He learned their language, their customs, and became close friends with them. When the new teacher arrived, he determined to be her protector.
When Sophia learned the plight of the Poncas--their lack of money, food, clothes, and other essentials--she and Will determine to help get them through the winter.
When the government decided to move the Poncas to the southwestern territory, Will and Sophia are unable to stop it.
This story is engaging. Catherine effectively weaved the emotional trauma of the Ponca in a way that will make you angry and sad. If you like historical fiction, or specifically fiction centered around the 1870s and American Indians, I think this is one you'll enjoy reading.
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