- Colter's Run
- by John Bradbury
Use the Questions to Consider in the book as a way to involve
students in the selection and expand their understanding of it. The questions
and possible answers appear below.
1. According to Bradbury's account of Colter, why were the Blackfeet
angry at the whites?
According to his account, the Blackfeet were
angry at the whites because Lewis (of the Lewis and Clark expedition)
had killed one of their people.
2. In Bradbury's view, why did Colter's companion Potts shoot one of
Bradbury states that, although it would appear
to most as a crazy act, it was actually a reasonable thing to do. Potts
knew the Indians' custom when taking someone alive is to torture them
3. What qualities of the mountain men are reflected in this episode?
Answers will vary. The qualities of the mountain
men that stand out in this episode are wilderness experience, bravery
in times of great danger, their intelligence, their creativity and independence,
and their extreme competence in the wild. For example, when faced with
an army of five or six hundred Indians, when one seized the rifle of
his friend Potts, Colter immediately grabbed it back from him. And when
asked by the Indians if he could run fast-knowing, he says, that he
would have to run for his life with five or six hundred armed Indians
behind him-Colter quickly replied that he could not run fast, although
he was considered by most to be very swift. Once into the run, he looked
back to see only one Indian close to him, more than a hundred yards
behind. Feeling confident that he could beat him, Colter ran to such
an extreme that blood ran from his nostrils all over his body. Then
he tricked the Indian that had caught up to him by facing him, naked
and covered in blood, with outstretched arms. The Indian was so stunned
and exhausted that he fell to the ground and Colter killed him with
his own spear. Colter then was able to plunge into the river in time
to escape the rest of the Indians. There he stayed, hiding until he
felt he was out of danger. The rest of his journey back to the fort
was a tough one, one that most could not survive. He was naked and hungry
with thorns in his feet and no means of killing animals for food. However,
he made it back in seven days, surviving on breadroot, known by French
voyageurs as "white apple."