Of all the challenges embodied in the writing of this book, I believe the greatest challenge comes after its completion. I must persuade readers who harbor negative feelings about Native Americans, or Anglo-Americans, or missionaries, or preachers, or organized religion, to transcend those attachments.
Although Isaac McCoy (1784-1846), the man who lived this book, was a missionary to the American Indians, his three-decades struggle against countless obstacles to help keep the Indians alive left him little time for teaching religion. And he was forced in the autumn of his years to admit that his biggest stumbling stone had been the church itself. Had he not been a missionary, Isaac McCoy wouldn't have witnessed first-hand all the events he recorded. Native Americans maintained no written history, and few, if any, literate white men lived among them as long as he. His contributions to posterity are price-less. The establishment of an Indian territory, which would become one of the United States, became his obsession. This Indian state was to be governed by Indians, as they were called in his time, and be represented in Washington by Indians. Thus, the few publications mentioning Isaac McCoy today often refer to him as "the father of Indian Territory." These writers are divided, however, as to whether he helped the Indians or hindered them. That is for you, the reader, to decide.
Every person named in this epic cast actually lived and is described as accurately as available resources allow. I have omitted descriptions when none was available to me. Letters, journals, diaries, books, newspaper articles, speeches, and other materials written by the subjects or by their contemporaries were employed to recreate their words as precisely as possible
The back matter includes an index of people and places and a glossary. As I began researching Native Americans, a pattern came into focus. I saw us move from the earlier books, ludicrous in their portrayal of the Indians as brutal savages--with white men always the heroes--to the recent make-up projects in which the roles are reversed.
I offer up a realistic and balanced narrative in which good and evil are not divided along racial lines. Rather, you will find that every race, every fraternity--including military, religious, political, commercial, and academic--contains an assortment of personalities. As Chief Saugana said in 1827, "There are some foolish white men as well as foolish Indians." Isaac McCoy himself leads us through his adventures. The reader who joins him will embark upon a journey never to be forgotten.