Niobrara County News

Niobrara County Reads! Wife of Moon by Margaret Coel

Plan now to participate in a myriad of activities centered on the book, “Wife of Moon” by Colorado author, Margaret Coel. This 2004 Wind River Reservation mystery finds Father John O’Malley and Vicky Holden investigating a murder that occurred nearly a century ago and its connection to a much more recent crime.

In 1907, photographer Edward S. Curtis arrived at the Wind River Reservation, hoping to document the Arapaho way of life before it vanished altogether. To preserve the legacy of warriors in battle, Curtis staged an attack on a village, planning to capture it on film. But it became all too real when the daughter of the tribe’s chief was found murdered – and her killer was never identified.

Now, Curtis photographs are on display at the museum of St. Francis, Mission on the reservation and history seems doomed to repeat itself. A descendant of the tribal chief who appeared in the Curtis pictures has been shot to death, and the museum’s curator has disappeared. The two incidents may be linked to a near century-old murder. Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley will soon discover an even more disturbing connection to present-day events. Copies of this book are available at the library for readers to read and pass on.

Events associated with “Niobrara County Reads” are film viewings and discussions, book discussions, visits from Arapaho Wyoming Arts Council artist Willie LeClair, puppeteer Markie Scholz and author Margaret Coel.

Willie LeClair

Willie LeClair, Wyoming Arts Council speaker, will present a program at the library on Wednesday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. LeClair is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming and makes his home on a small ranch near Riverton. LeClair will present a program featuring life on the Wind River Indian Reservation as well as history of our Native Americans. LeClair will delve into the Indigenous ways of life in the past and in modern society and this program will tie in perfectly with Margaret Coel’s book, “Wife of Moon.”

Author Margaret Coel to Visit

“Wife of Moon” author, Margaret Coel will present a program on Thursday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the library. Coel is the New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Wind River mystery series set among the Arapahos on Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation and featuring Jesuit priest Father John O’Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden.

Margaret Coel is a native Coloradan who hails from a pioneer Colorado family. The West, the mountains, plains, and vast spaces, are in her bones, she says. She moved out of Colorado on two occasions – to attend Marquette University and to spend a couple of years in Alaska. Both times she couldn’t wait to get back.

Along with the Wind River mystery series, Margaret Coel is the author of five non-fiction books, including the award-winning Chief Left Hand, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. This biography of an Arapaho chief and history of the Arapahos in Colorado has never gone out of print.

Coel’s novels have been on the bestseller lists of numerous newspapers, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. The Spirit Woman won both the Colorado Book Award and the Willa Cather Award for Best Novel of the West. It was also a finalist for the Western Writers of America prestigious Spur Award for Best Novel. The Shadow Dancer was also a winner of the Colorado Book Award.

Speaking engagements on the people and places she loves best have taken her around the country and as far away as Australia. Coel visits the Wind River Reservation every year, “just to catch up with my Arapaho friends.” She writes in a small study in her home on a hillside in Boulder. The window frames a view of the Rocky Mountains and the almost-always blue sky. A herd of deer are usually grazing just outside, and one summer a couple of years ago, a mountain lion made its home close by. “Every day,” she says, “I drink in the West.”

These programs are funded by grants from the Niobrara Recreation District, the Wyoming Arts Council through funding from the Wyoming State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Niobrara County Library and the Niobrara County Library Foundation.