Spotted Flower and the Ponokomita

Spotted Flower cover

© 1977, 2001 Kae Cheatham
2nd print edition $12.95

Electronic editions with all illustrations, expanded history notes and references: KINDLE and NOOK




A sixth-grade teacher read the book aloud to classes.
The students presented me with "review" sheets. This one is from the first period class; the third and fourth period classes also sent reviews like this.

From Havre (Montana) Middle School 6th graders, November, 2012

first period

"A revised second edition of Cheatham's marvelous book for young readers on the 18th century Blackfoot Nation, and a young girl who sees a horse for the very first time. Based on historic facts and legends, Cheatham evokes the feelings and attitudes of Spotted Flower, a Blackfoot girl living over 250 years ago. A delightful book on early Montana Indians with a Teacher Supplement to accompany it." -- Doris Meredith, Roundup Magazine, June, 2002

K Follis Cheatham's Spotted Flower And The Ponokomita is a unique story of a young Native American girl of the Blackfeet Nation, in what would one day be the state of Montana, and her first encounter with the strange new beast called a "horse". This engaging, informative, and highly entertaining story is enhanced for young readers with an "Afterword", a bibliography, a listing of places to visit in the area where the story takes place (including the Blackfeet Indian Reservation), and thematically appropriate Internet websites. Spotted Flower And The Ponokomita would make a welcome addition to a classroom or homeschooling Native American studies curriculum supplemental reading list, as well as any school or community library collection. --Midwest Book Review, "The Children's Bookwatch", February, 2002

Author K. Follis Cheatham's energizing adventure, Spotted Flower and the Ponokomita, has a plot, an idea and a pace suitable to today's young person. Absorbing details about Blackfeet family values and their passion for animals and curiosity about people win the approval of parents and teachers. -- Janet Colberg Help Books Newsletter, December, 2001



"Spotted Flower was a young girl in a tribe of the Blackfeet Indians about 250 years ago. Dogs were very important to them, as carriers of household goods and lodge skins. One day Spotted Flower and two friends walked up from the river to the plains in search of a missing mother dog. While they were gone, their village was suddenly forced to pack up and flee from the Shoshoni Indians. Spotted Flower's friends were captured, but Spotted Flower, because she stopped along the way to sleep, was able to evade the enemy.

"Spotted Flower had a difficult, exhausting time before she finally found her way back to her tribe. She observed the Shoshoni Indians riding horses, the first she had ever seen of such strange animals. She called the horse ponokomita (elk-dog) because it resembled an elk but worked for men as dogs did. After a buffalo stampede, she found a lost ponokomita for herself, to introduce to her own people.

"This well-written tale does have it's villain, who seeks senseless glory for himself and brings grief to Spotted Flower when he mortally wounds the ponokomita to win its magic. It also has a hero for Spotted Flower-a young warrior who plays an important role in the stealing back of the two captured girls.

The author, a Native American herself, has written with understanding, sensitivity and appropriate style. This is a fine book for any library." --Provident Book Finder, Autumn, 1977

"Set in the northern Plains in the years just before the Blackfeet tribe acquired horses, this is a well-paced story about an intelligent, resourceful 14-year-old Blackfeet Indian girl. Spotted Flower is able to elude capture and survive hunger and miles of walking to catch up to her people fleeing Shoshoni invaders. She encounters a riderless horse, wounded in a buffalo stampede, and, overcoming her fear takes the animal (which she calls a ponokomita or "elk that works like a dog") to her people so they can use it to rescue her two captured girl friends ... Accurate background information has been carefully integrated into a credible and consciously non-sexist piece of historical fiction." Library Journal, September, 1977

[This book is] an upper elementary story about a young Blackfeet girl, Spotted Flower, who found a horse and brought it back to her people. It is an adventure story, informative and exciting. It is especially good because the author does not talk down to her young readers. Especially interesting is Spotted Flower's reaction to the first sight and contact with the horse. --Women of American Native Tribes, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI, 1977

"...Ms. Cheatham says, 'This is a tale of an occurrence that could have happened around the year 1730 in the region that encompasses what is now the Montana and Canadian border.' According to her notes, dogs were the only pack animals used there ....There is also much folklore and sociological information imparted in the course of the story. -- Ardis Kimzey, Raleigh News & Observer, November 1977

"This is a...tale of how horses could have been introduced to the Blackfeet Indians. The story revolves around the adventures and misadventures of the fourteen-year-old heroine, Spotted Flower, who finds a horse that has wandered from a camp of Shoshoni Indians, enemies of the Blackfeet. Realistic and very interesting, this is an excellent book about American Indians by an Indian author." Children's Book Review Service, February 1978

"A fictitious account of the coming of the horse to the Blackfeet Indians is told in Spotted Flower and the Ponokomita. The story centers around a 14-year-old Blackfeet girl of the Kainah tribe, Spotted Flower, who captures the first ponokomita (an early Kainah term for horse meaning elk-dog) and brings it to her tribe.The book presents an interesting and well-informed picture of life among the Blackfeet tribes as they travel over their traditional Montana hunting grounds. Cheatham writes with real authority of the daily activities of the tribe in camp and as they travel in search of game. The story is developed well enough to make the book enjoyable but its real strength is the author's ability to work in many interesting facts of Indian life without sounding pedantic.

"This book is recommended for any child seeking to learn more about life among the early Montana Indians and makes a valuable contribution to the collection of children's books dealing with Montana." -- Victoria Campbell, Great Falls Tribune, May 21, 1978

From a letter to author from the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC)

"I have just finished reading Spotted Flower and the Ponokomita. I found it a marvelous little book. You are to be commended for writing it. I hope you will be able to write more like it..." -- Gerald Wilkinson, NIYC Executive Director, Albuquerque, May 1978