Alli Carter Close

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Struggling Toward Hope: A Novel

December 2022

In Autumn of 1860, twenty-four-year-old Chaska, a member of the Ute Nation, is beginning to see the effects of the Americans trespassing on her tribe’s land. The mother of three young girls just wants to raise her children in the Ute ways as her own mother taught her. Instead, she is faced with one challenge after another as her family’s camps are destroyed, their water is poisoned, and their food supply is diminished. Miner, trappers, and traders, who once simply passed through the Ute lands are now settling down and building towns.

“Why do they call us Natives, but don’t consider us the owners of the land?” Chaska asks of the Americans who seek to drive her tribe into extinction.

The story takes place wholly in Colorado where seven bands of Ute―the Mouche, Capote, Weeminuche, Tabaquache, Grandriver, Uintah, and Yampa―live as nomads traveling high up on the Rocky Mountains down into the plains. Each family unit hunts and gathers only what is necessary to sustain them. In the winter, the bands come together to live out the cold, snowy months sharing stories and preparing the warmer months.

By 1868, the Utes are forced to give up much of the ancestral land, signing it over to America in an agreement often called the Kit Carson treaty. In exchange, the Ute retain land that encompasses two million acres, or almost half of Colorado state.

Quintessential frontiersman Kit Carson provides the reader with the American side of the movement west, detailing how and why it was important for the country to expand to the Pacific. In certain circles, Carson is rumored to have killed more Native Americans as a trapper and Indian agent than anyone else of his time.

Once the tribe is forced onto the reservation, none are not allowed to continue their nomadic ways. If there could be a silver lining, it is the flat, open field used to race their beloved ponies. That is, until Father Meeker arrives.

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