The first expedition west after Lewis and Clark returned from their historic journey included 60 men, one woman, her husband and two little boys. That woman was Marie Dorion, an Iowa Indian woman who spent five weeks on the journey with Sacagawea. Both were married to French Canadian men, both pregnant and both affiliated with white, male fur trapping expeditions. They must have had something to talk about.
A Name of Her Own
Based on the life of Marie Dorion, the first mother to cross the Rocky Mountains and remain in the Northwest, A Name of Her Own is the fictionalized adventure account of a real woman’s fight to settle in a new landscape, survive in a nation at war, protect her sons and raise them well and, despite an abusive, alcoholic husband, keep her marriage together.
On the journey, Marie meets up with the famous Lewis and Clark interpreter, Sacagawea. Both are Indian women married to mixed-blood men of French Canadian and Indian descent, both are pregnant, both traveled with expeditions led by white men, and both are raising sons in a white world.
Together, the women forge a friendship that will strengthen and uphold Marie long after they part, even as she faces the greatest crisis of her life, and as she fights for her family’s very survival with the courage and gritty determination that can only be fueled by a mother’s love.
Every Fixed Star
Following the family tragedy, the great battle for survival, and the test of faith described in A Name of Her Own, Marie relocates her family to the Pacific Northwest territory’s Okanogan settlement. The year is 1814 and, as is customary of her life out West, Marie faces constant challenges simply to keep her children clothed and fed.
Through it all, Marie is tempted to believe that she doesn’t deserve God’s love in the everyday places. When blessings arrive, she struggles to accept them, fearing they will be followed by more difficult challenges. But ultimately, the threads of past friendships and their prayers, a faithful love, and her own service to others all lead her to God’s gift of a full and abundant life.
Hold Tight the Thread
Their Lives Were Woven by Wars and Wilderness Places, and Tied by the Peace of Family and Faith.
As the 1840s bring conflict to the Pacific Northwest’s rugged Columbia Country, new challenges face Marie Dorion Venier Toupin: the wife, mother, and Ioway Indian woman who crossed the Rocky Mountains with the Astor Expedition, the first big fur trapping expedition after Lewis and Clark’s. On French Prairie in the newly forming Oregon Territory, Marie strives to meet the needs of her conflict-ridden neighbors: British settlers and Americans, missionaries and disease-stricken natives, fur trappers and French Canadian farming families, and the surviving natives of the region.
At the same time, as a mother, Marie must weave together the threads of an unraveling family. One daughter compares and judges as she seeks to find her place; another reaches for elusive evidence of her mother’s love. Marie’s memories are threatened with the emergence of a figure from the past. In the midst of this turmoil, Marie discovers an empowering spiritual truth: Unconditional love can shed light on even the darkest places in the heart.