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Going to Glasto this year? But, what was the Glastonbury of the Rocky Mountains? Katie Hickman reveals all in her latest book

Blog | By Amelia Milne | Jun 12, 2024

Photo by Neil Spence photography

"The Glastonbury of the Rocky Mountains" was revealed by Katie Hickman to the Oldie audience yesterday, but what exactly is this version of Glastonbury?

Katie Hickman spoke of female bravery when she wrote her latest book Brave Hearted: The Dramatic Story of Women of the American West. Katie was speaking at The Oldie Literary Lunch in Salisbury Guildhall, to raise money for the Salisbury Samaritans, on Tuesday 11 June.

Katie loved watching western movies as a child but realised they were 'incredibly male'. Katie also wanted to know where geographically was 'the West'. Katie told the audience that the expansion of American started with two lone women: Narcissa Whitman Eliza Spalding, who made the first journey from The Missouri river frontier to Oregon in 1836, even having to get passports from the American-Indian war office - they survived their journey.

Katie describes this story of two missionary women as they went west,with the American fur company Caravan to a trade fair in the Rocky Mountains.

There were fur trappers and 3000-4000 native men, all camping on banks of the river, with incredible wrestling and horse racing.

Everybody was dressed up in incredible clothes: ochre stripes, eagle feathers and woodpecker feathers, beads trinkets and bells. The men 'were quite badly behaved it has to be said' and there was music. Katie's book tells the tale of July 1836 when these two pristine women went to the Glastonbury equivalent to join these men - 'what could possibly go wrong?' All is revealed in her book.

As an aside Katie mentioned to me her views on American Thanksgiving, that the reality of the festival must be remembered. Thanksgiving should be a poignant time when in American history, there were massacres of Native people, including in 1637 when Massachusetts Colony Governor John Winthrop declared a day of thanksgiving after volunteers murdered 700 Pequot people - not quite the celebration one desires.

Katie signing her books
The Oldie Lunch at The Salisbury Guildhall