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Author chronicles Indian raids in mid-1800s





While attending a convention during the summer to receive an award, author Jeff Broome listened to a lecturer who started his presentation with something American Indians believed.

"I related to it immediately," Broome said.

So much so, Broome has the quote in the forward of his new book, "Cheyenne War: Indian Raids on the Road to Denver 1864-1869."

The passage reads: "The Native Americans say that a story stalks a writer, and if it finds you worthy, comes to live in your heart. The writer's responsibility is to give the story a voice."

Broome, who was in Boise, Idaho, in July to receive an award from the Wild West History Association for an article he had written, could relate to that passage.

"I said to myself, 'That's me.' "

Broome, 61, a philosophy professor at Arapahoe County Community College in Littleton, Colo., was in Hays on Saturday at the Ellis County Historical Society, 100 W. Seventh, to give a presentation about his new book.

For research, Broome spends much of his time digging through the National Archives in Washington. It was there he found much of the information for his current book.

"I uncovered everything I could find on all the Indian raids from 1864 to 1869 ... the intense period of five years. There was always war going on, " Broome said. "The quietest it ever was, was for maybe three months at any given time."

Broome already is working on his next book, which deals with a famous brawl at Tommy Drum's saloon July 17, 1870, involving Wild Bill Hickok. Hickok ended up shooting two soldiers from Fort Hays, mortally wounding Private John Kile, a Medal of Honor recipient.

"It's on the brawl itself, and the characters," Broome said of his future book. "Of course, one character is Wild Bill.

"Interesting thing I've done on that, I've compared (Hickok) to William Munny in Clint Eastwood's movie 'Unforgiven.' There are a lot of parallels between Hickok and the fictional William Munny. I draw the parallels out, so the reader knows who Hickok is in 1870."

One thing Broome hopes to do with his book is eliminate misconceptions about the brawl.

"It's just the myths of the brawl and how it developed, and how it led into the Hickok legacy," Broome said.

Shortly after Hickok's death, a biography came out that sensationalized the brawl, embellishing the facts.

"I'm trying to clear up the myths and also tell the truth," Broome said. "There were two soldiers, and two soldiers only, that were involved in that brawl."

Broome said it is accurate a pistol was put to Hickok's head during the brawl, but it misfired.

"Hickok was lucky to have survived it," Broome said.

Broome, who was in Hays last December to discuss his first two books, "Custer into the West" and "Dog Soldier Justice," said he might have to make another trip next year to discuss his book on Hickok's brawl.