The World of "News of the World"

Aug 14, 2019

Old Langtry, Texas may have looked something like this in Captain Kidd's day.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Hello, my name is Freddy Gipp from Lawrence, KS. Welcome to High Plains Public Radio. I’m an enrolled member of the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma and my indian name is “T’sa(N) T’hoop Ah(N)”, meaning Lead Horse in the Kiowa language.

I was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, where I graduated from the University of Kansas in 2016 with a degree in Strategic Communications from the William Allen White School of Journalism.

I currently run my own small consulting firm called Lead Horse LLC, which focuses on utilizing Native American Powwow celebrations as an effective economic driver for urban and rural communities.

This is a bookbyte for “News of the World”

At the beginning of the novel Captain Jefferson Kyle Kid makes a life changing stop in Wichita Falls.  Here he is asked by an acquaintance, Britt Johnson: a free black man post civil war, to shuttle a young girl back to San Antonio. The young girl was taken at six by members of the Kiowa tribe. With this capture the vein of “duty” that runs throughout the story begins.

Johanna spends four years of her life being cared for by the Kiowas. She is taught their language, ways of life, given a native name, and more. One could interpret this kind of care a responsibility that must be shoulderd since the tribe took her from the life she knew and ended the lives of her parents. Eventually, Johanna is traded from the tribe for luxuries, but at the threat of the tribe being attacked by multiple military units if the exchange does not happen. There is an obligation of the tribe to protect all people, even at the loss of “Three Spotted’s little blue-eyed girl.”

Originally Captain Jefferson Kyle Kid, also known throughout the novel as Captain, has reservations about taking Johanna to San Antonio. As the story continues, his couriering of the young girl begins to mold with his time in the “message corps. The runners.” It is in this role that Captain finds his peace and purpose. It is also here that he develops his sense of allegiance to beginning a task and seeing it through all the way down to its last intricacy.

To comfort himself and slow down his mind he thought of his time as a courier, a runner, and Maria Luisa and his daughters. Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we have just one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.”

As the story comes to a close, the Captain is tempted by duty and doing what is right. He initially follows through on leaving Johanna with her aunt and uncle whilst knowing it might not be in her best interest. As time goes on, he succumbs to the bond formed with this young girl: acting on a new sense of loyalty “steals” her once more away from the unloving aunt and uncle. He spends many great years carrying Johanna, like the information of the message corps, only to deliver her one last time to a husband. “How many years I worried about you and also delighted in your company. And now it is time for me to give you away.”

Overall, this is a charming story written in a curious time in our country’s history. It plays on a situation being experienced by many different children of many different backgrounds,some of which could only dream of an ending as serene as Johanna’s.

This has been Freddy Gipp from Lawrence, Kansas.