Rockford native Jeff Havens to publish Lewis and Clark novel

Staff Report

HELENA, Montana — Rockford native and award-winning journalist Jeff Havens has announced plans to publish in 2016 an extensive novel and photo book based on the epic adventures of the Lewis and Clark expedition. An enhanced e-version of the novel is also planned for distribution.

Havens is a Helena, Montana, resident and former investigative news reporter for The Rock River Times. He was also a contributor to the 2014 book Secret Rockford, edited by Michael Kleen. Book excerpts, sample photos and publication plans were announced on the book’s website,

Naming of the book was after Captain William Clark’s 1803 assessment of what he thought the mission might entail. That mission took Clark, Captain Meriwether Lewis, and their many volunteers more than 8,000 miles across the western United States and back between the years 1804 and 1806.

Havens said great effort was made to be as historically accurate as possible by using numerous and notable sources. In addition, Havens visited and photographed as many Lewis and Clark sites as possible from Hartford, Illinois, to Seaside, Oregon. He also hiked large portions of the Lolo Trail in Montana and Idaho several times, canoed the White Cliffs section of the Missouri River, and lived in several cities along the trail.

Since 2010, Havens has resided in South Sioux City, Nebraska; Glendive, Montana; and Helena, Montana. Great proximity afforded him many opportunities to visit and re-visit Lewis and Clark sites, in an effort to recreate what they may have experienced. Both books are products of those many experiences.

Upon completion, the novel is expected to be about 175,000 words, and was 130,000 words in November 2014. Work began on the novel in August 2010.

The following excerpt from the upcoming novel details how Sacajawea was likely captured. It is posted on the book’s website. The brutal excerpt is based on Edward S. Curtis’ re-telling of an 1858 Crow Indian campaign against their Shoshone Indian neighbors. Curtis published 20 volumes of books between 1907 and 1930 that documented traditional Native American cultures.

Havens said the Lewis and Clark journals do not exactly detail how Sacajawea was captured. However, teaming the facts from the journals with Curtis’ accounts gives the most plausible explanation yet on what likely happened. It is important to note that according to Curtis, he believed the Crow/Apsaalooka and Hidatsa Indians were “once united” and “at no time has either tribe lost sight of its relationship to the other.”

From the unpublished novel:

… Unknown to both Sacajawea and Jumping Fish, the Hidatsa war party had swept down from a position on the adjoining hills overlooking the three forks. During the short battle that proceeded, they easily killed about a dozen men and boys who hadn’t already fled the skirmish. The dead were promptly scalped, and each of their bloody remains was tied to separate wooden poles. Shoshone possessions not claimed as war prizes were thrown into one of several fires ignited by the raiders. After taking all items of value, the Hidatsa war party began their exodus by heading east with their captives when a distraught woman emerged from hiding, running to confront the victors.

Smoke and flames in the distance provided the foreboding backdrop for the woman’s hysterical appeals.

In Shoshone, the woman screamed: “My child is with you! My child is with you!”

She soon learned that her child was not with them.

The infant was very alone in a cradleboard propped against a tree, incessantly crying for his mother, under a cold, gray, indifferent sky. The woman desperately and repeatedly pleaded with the chief to be allowed to return to her village. Her frantic cries fell on deaf ears, and she too was forced to march with the other prisoners. The war party and traumatized captives traveled the remainder of the day and through the night. In the morning, they finally stopped to camp, where the exhausted captives were commanded to sing Shoshone songs, while dancing with the scalps of their dead. …

From the Dec. 24-30, 2014, issue

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