Editor’s Note
March 2014
A Heritage of Horses
Randy “Leo” Teton—here with his horse Geronimo—is a member of Idaho’s Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
Photo: Erika Larsen

I grew up in Central Point, Oregon. From my house I could see Upper Table Rock, a plateau once occupied by the Rogue River Indians. As a kid I’d heard stories about a vicious raid by a white mob and how the Indians leaped from the rock rather than be captured. It was part of the mythology of the landscape, though I’ve never been able to verify it.

What is true is that my father, who was a social studies teacher, made sure I understood Native American history in the most positive way. He wanted me to look beyond myths to the truths of their culture. Among Native American accomplishments and skills, he told me, were their adoption of the horse and their deep, almost mystical, connection to that animal.

I later saw those skills for myself as a Seattle newspaper photographer. I was shooting the Omak Stampede Suicide Race—the same event David Quammen writes about this month in “People of the Horse.”

It’s a story full of soul, as Erika Larsen’s photographs show. Horses, Quammen explains, transformed Native American culture. More than just a symbol of wealth and pride, the horse embodied values including discipline, concern for other creatures, and continuity of knowledge between generations.

blog comments powered by Disqus