Viking Day

Vikings confront Skraelings on the first North American frontier. Art by Angus McBride.

  The Norsemen ought to be considered the great Frontier Partisans of the medieval period. They were wayfarers and fur traders, raiders and settlers. They were almost certainly the first European culture to make contact with the First Nations peoples of North America — whom they called Skraelings. The Vikings spread their culture … [Read more...]

Crow War Chief at 101

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From al-Jazeera:   The last Crow war chief entered the log-cabin trading post at the edge of the Little Bighorn Battlefield just after noon on a Sunday, supported by his son on his left and a cane held firmly in his right hand. Often, at tribal events such as powwows, he’ll swing his cane overhead in celebration. But on this October … [Read more...]

Rogue Males

Stalking Hitler. From "Man Hunt," Fritz Lang's film based on "Rogue Male."

There was a time, now decades past, when men read fiction, and men of experience and adventure wrote quality novels about men of action. Those days are mostly gone. Fiction is largely now the province of women. Even action novels require a female protagonist or at least a badass female sidekick. Seldom now do we see a novel in the classic … [Read more...]

Pemmican

Making pemmican was a tedious but vital task.

I'm in the midst of my research reading on the militant Metis leader Gabriel Dumont. The Metis of the Canadian prairies lived an epic life following the buffalo herds in massive annual hunts. That's where Dumont became a leader. The Captain of the Hunt was a tactical leader no less than a war chief. Besides robes, the buffalo provided the Metis … [Read more...]

Frontier Partisan Ballads — Steve Earle

Steve Earle — Troubadour.

Back in 1985, in college in Santa Cruz, I picked up Waylon Jennings’ “Will the Wolf Survive.” Waylon was my original music hero, and he had just come off a 21-year drug addiction and was recording clean and sober for the first time. It’s a good album, though it misses Waylon’s signature Telecaster sound. For some reason, perhaps feeling tentative, … [Read more...]

The Frontier Partisan Art of Greg Manchess

Longmire.

I am, to no one’s surprise, a lover of classic adventure illustration. As such, I’m also a fan of the art of Gregory Manchess. Manchess has illustrated fantasy, Western, hardboiled crime and other genre covers, and his work has illustrated a National Geographic piece on pirates and the Wydah. He is particularly strong with frontier-related … [Read more...]

Indigenous Peoples Day

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A movement is gathering momentum that would displace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. I carry no torch for Columbus. My Viking ancestors were here a long time before the Italian sailor was. But I would like to suggest that we keep the old holiday and introduce Indigenous Peoples Day on a different date. Credit my friend Lane Batot … [Read more...]

Hail! Arin Mirkan

Arin Mirkan. Warrior.

Like other mountain peoples, the Kurds have an admirable history of resistance to tyranny and drive for independence. They also have a tradition of fielding some genuinely badass woman warriors. As the Kurds battled to hold onto Kobane on the border with Turkey, besieged by ISIS, a Kurdish woman commander in the People’s Protection Unit blew … [Read more...]

The Rites of Autumn

Is there a Black Rider around the corner?

My favorite autumn ritual is climbing Black Crater, which looms out my back door. The peak is a 7,500-foot cinder cone offering the finest views in the Central Oregon Cascades. It’s a four-mile climb to the summit, with 2,500 feet of elevation gain. Folks around here call it The Death March, but it really ain’t bad at all. The landscape is … [Read more...]

Frontier Partisan Cinema — American Sniper

Bradley Cooper portrays the late Chris Kyle in "American Sniper."

It's the silly season — elections, that is — and it's keeping this small-town news guy hoppin'. Too busy to post much here. So a short-shot (pardon the pun) on "American Sniper," Clint Eastwood's film of the exploits of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle. A very intense trailer here. Kyle, a larger-than-life Texan, stands in a long and storied … [Read more...]