The Boy Who Promised Me Horses (Paperback)

The Boy Who Promised Me Horses By David Joseph Charpentier, He'seota'e Miner (Foreword by) Cover Image

The Boy Who Promised Me Horses (Paperback)


Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
“He tried to outrun a train,” Theodore Blindwoman told David Joseph Charpentier the night they found out about Maurice Prairie Chief’s death. When Charpentier was a new teacher at St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, Montana, Prairie Chief was the first student he met and the one with whom he formed the closest bonds.

From the shock of moving from a bucolic Minnesota college to teach at a small, remote reservation school in eastern Montana, Charpentier details the complex and emotional challenges of Indigenous education in the United States. Although he intended his teaching tenure at St. Labre to be short, Charpentier’s involvement with the school has extended past thirty years. Unlike many white teachers who came and left the reservation, Charpentier has remained committed to the potentialities of Indigenous education, motivated by the early friendship he formed with Prairie Chief, who taught him lessons far and wide, from dealing with buffalo while riding a horse to coping with student dropouts he would never see again.

Told through episodic experiences, the story takes a journey back in time as Charpentier searches for answers to Prairie Chief’s life. As he sits on top of the sledding hill near the cemetery where Prairie Chief is buried, Charpentier finds solace in the memories of their shared (mis)adventures and their mutual respect, hard won through the challenges of educational and cultural mistrust.
David Joseph Charpentier is the director of St. Labre Indian School’s Alumni Support Program and executive director of the Bridge Foundation. For more information about the author, visit
Product Details ISBN: 9781496238078
ISBN-10: 1496238079
Publisher: Bison Books
Publication Date: May 1st, 2024
Pages: 324
Language: English
“Beautifully embodied by the people who inhabit the Northern Cheyenne community in southeast Montana, this journey is fraught with difference, ambiguity, and harm, historical and present, taking us into the shadows of our individual and national interiority and helping us acknowledge not only shadow but light.”—Shann Ray, American Book Award winner and author of The Souls of Others

“A beautiful tale of friendship, memory, and loss. Charpentier didn’t go to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation or make friends with Maurice Prairie Chief in order to write a book. He wrote the book because he had a story he needed to tell. The result is a look at reservation life that is achingly honest, both about the people he came to know and about himself.”—Ed Kemmick, author of The Big Sky, By and By: True Tales, Real People, and Strange Times in the Heart of Montana

“The most powerful and heartfelt stories are the stories we don’t see coming, about the people who live quietly at the edge of our lives and offer untold love and meaning. The Boy Who Promised Me Horses is a love story lit from within. Unexpected, powerful, and deeply moving.”—Debra Magpie Earling, author of The Lost Journals of Sacajewea

“Not only a lyrical account of the narrator’s friendship with Maurice Prairie Chief. It is a haunting tragedy, a cross-cultural narrative that explores the mystery of friendship and the impossibility of ever really knowing another person. Dave Charpentier has crafted an indelible and unforgettable story.”—Tami Haaland, author of What Does Not Return

“David Charpentier’s The Boy Who Promised Me Horses is humble, wise, honest, full of wonder, and absolutely, devastatingly heartbreaking. Which is as it should be. The story of the American West is one of genocide, thievery, and forced assimilation—and that’s the historical legacy David Charpentier meets head-on as a young English teacher at a high school on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southeastern Montana. Yet, too, in his time on the reservation Mr. Sharp begins to learn resilience and loyalty and a deep and sustaining culture. And most of all, he learns friendship. You’ll be thinking about Charpentier and Maurice Prairie Chief long after you turn the last page.”—Joe Wilkins, author of Fall Back Down When I Die