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This program was produced by WB Geo for national educational radio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation. From the struggle for freedom in the 18th century to the struggle for freedom in the 20th. Negro Americans have helped make American history. These are a few of the travellers along that Glory Road. Laurie wrote the stories of Negro Americans who have shared in the building of our nation. Today. James Beck world. During the early part of the 19th century the great west of our country was mostly a few John known. Although the United States had acquired vast territories. There were mountain barriers wild beasts and hostile Indian tribes to contend with. A generation of men arose to explore these great frontiers
and to trade talk and fight with the Indians. Why a strong man. And a Negro was one of their number. James Beck work was his name. And he was quite a character. My big settlement Denver Colorado your 1859. A small dark skinned boy enters a general store. Behind the counter is a shaggy old man the same James Beck was. Going to do for you. I like five pennies with a strong twine of pennies worth of candy. Well here's a letter from peppermint. I have some of each. What's your name. JOHN McKENZIE. McKenzie I should have said from the look of you that you were an Indian. Well my father's a fur tractor but my mother's a crow indeed
across the U.S.. Well John we can see you're welcome here any time. Absolute organic here it's free. So you had your mother ever tell you about a Crow chief named bloody arm. Oh yes. She sings me Indian songs about the great chief bloody on. He was a warrior who won many battles and made the Crow nation rich. He took many scouts from the Blackfeet tribe. Yeah great hero it was like to hear a story about him lad. Oh yes. Did you know. Oh I knew bloody arm all right. Are you an Indian. You don't look normal. My father was white. My mother was a negro slave. That's why my skin is dark. My name is James Beck worth. I live with the Crow Indians for quite a spell. Oh but this story where John McKenzie is set yourself down on this nail keg here will begin. Well sir many many years ago back in 1823 when I was young I joined a fur trap an expedition out
of St. Louis led by General Henry actually ever here on my island. Oh yes he explored in the Rocky Mountains southeast to the mountains was discovered by his men. That's right lad. An important passage is to this day for wagons moving westward. Welp I joined his expedition and many hair raising adventures we had to. Why I say that whole party from starving to death shocked buffalo and elk when no one else could bag so much as a rabbit. Say General after his life too and we all nearly got scalped by the Arapahoe Indians. But what about the Crow Indians and bloody yarn. I'm coming to that and I'm coming to that. Well sir one day I was busy setting up beaver traps along a little stream when I looked up. Yes and he'll know what I found how I was surrounded by Indians.
You are a prisoner. Give me your weapon. Here you can have my traps too. You fellers are crowing. Yes. Well I've always heard crows are friendly. You come out to our village. All right I guess I have no choice. We are here. He won't help me. She speaks truly. The last one has come back. It is my brother I am sure her brother me when I never saw before but this is a better welcome then I expected. Oh is it really the last one. Go and get his mother. She will know she what a fine looking man I have captured a great chief. Feel the strong back. What a fine chest he has. There you don't have to tickle me pension. Where is he. Where is my son. Oh squat big. Look upon this man. Do you know him for
my sake I hope you know me lady mother. If this is indeed my son he will have a mole on one eyelid pulled out his ID so he out. Can the monk it is there. He is my son the most warrior has returned. My brother writes to the Great Spirit. Kiss your long lost brother. My daughter. Well now being kissed is lots better here Scout. Let us take him to our father pink. Yes his heart will be great with much joy at the return of his son. And that's the way it was adopted by the Crow Indians and mighty good they were to me too. They gave me fine clothes and weapons and soon I was sent out to battle. But what about Plone on patients. Well now
I seem to have the knack of style and I collected many scalps and captured many fine horses for the Crows. Then they gave me my bloody arm. You you were the mighty chief bloody young lad before the battle he named me the new chief. Live with the crows as chief for many years. The adventures. Why did you leave. Kraut my mother told me that bloody arm left and the whole tribe mourned. Many cut off their fingers in mourning another crow believe that someday their greatest chief will return. Why did I leave. Well you see John McKenzie the Indians have many ways that are wild and cruel. Sometimes they burn their captives and all that scalp and I just didn't won't turn Indian all together so I decided it was time to go. But bloody arm I mean Mister backward. What did you do after you left the Crow.
Surely as mighty and fearless a warrior as you must have had many adventures adventures many a tale I can tell you why. Of capture by the way are the great events in New Mexico and California. Now tell me what happened way out in California. Did you find gold there. Well let me tell it my way inland. I first went to California in 1840 for five years before the great gold rush of 49. Back then California still belong to Mexico even though a good number of the settlers were from the States. Well I like that contrast there. I had a band of men with just come up from the Mexico one for a while I did a fair amount of trading of goods I brought along. Then one day one of the American settlers Naima Rowland said to me you know this California country's under a Mexican tyrant. Yep I hear old Tory Hahn is a rebel Governor you don't own property
here you would really know that taxes are impossible. He brands our land for no reason. In fact it's reached a point where you're going to do about it rent Dal rebel against Mexico that's wot every American who can hold a rifle or fight with us gin my heard tales of want to fight you off we need you all. Will you join us. Well never did like a tyrant. Well Roland I always did enjoy a good scrap. Oh sure I'll join you that's wonderful JM I think I can get my man to join you. To me it should be quite a fight. And could a fight it was one day we were watching when we saw. Him over yonder the riders are coming this way. I see they're flying the Mexican flag something more. Yes I think we can beat him we're going to try to get your way don't you.
Well maybe it's the spark. I haven't seen you since we tangled with assume you remember that you will not lie and however it is good to see all of you see what you find on the side of the Mexican dictator for good old men like you. Hey. You should be ashamed of yourself for men like you fighting for that tyrant. Why don't you join us and fight for freedom. Why not. You saved my life once you go black you didn't back worth your wonderful. We'll see that these men receive food and drink. Well after that we found the real enemy and we surround and we did.
They sought warning any use of the home up the white flag and surrendered and we won the war. More a bloodless revolution that's what it was. Well California was independent for just a little while and later it became part of these United States. Yes I've heard about that but what about the goal of coming to that lad. I left California for a spell then when I came back I did a bit of prospect and for gold seemed like everybody I was found a little gold never did amount to anything though. Bought I something else. What was that. Mountain pass just as pretty and sweet as your probably is cutting right through those high Sierra Nevada Mountains. I'm out in Paris was it important. It only opened up a better route into California. That's all important I should say it was that passes still call back more of pirates and then what. Well the country around the mountain pass was so sweet
nestled down in the mountains that I built my house there. I lived there for quite a spell. Lots of folks came through my past on their way on their way to Weston. They used to stop with me and I would spend money on are too. They seem to like my store and if I like them to do that. I got a million stories about my wife and I why there's the time I save the hope for people for me and massacree by the Indians and the time I never lost my scalp to the SU I bluffed my way out of that. Well sorry I was living in my house and Duckworth passed on one day a fellow named banner came by a newspaper feller from back east. He listened to all my stories and wrote them all down and put them in a book called cruel life adventure book of the Indians and the Wild West. Would you ever return to the crows as their chief. Well I'd sure like to return to the crows before I die. Got a wife waiting for me there too. Real worry a woman she is can take scales with the
best of them. That's my prime beef. I always felt that the crows are my people. Get real homesick for that Indian tribe sometimes when you tell me more stories. I mean another time I have to get home with that ball of twine. But I could come back some time. Sure John McKenzie sure. And I'll tell you lots of stories. Any one with chrome rod is always welcome here. I want to tell my mother that I met the great chief bloody on. Good by John McKenzie. Good bye bloody on. The end. Such was the man. And Jane's back. His book remains a remarkable account of life in the early West. Although many of his facts are exaggerated. And perhaps just perhaps James Beckwith was not always the great hero he paints himself as being. Many of his stories are undoubtedly true. James Beckwith did returned the Crow Indians who had patiently waited with their legendary
chief bloody armed we joined them. And it was among them we die. This program James back in the series Glory Road was written by June cater and produced and directed by Norman was it heard in the cast were Mary Adelaide Knapp. Marjorie Terre chip Kater Walter Clifford Samuel our cider Norman wiser and Seymour Farber as James Beck were your announcer has been Joan Pollack a grant from the National Home Library Foundation has made possible the production of this program for national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
The glory road
James Beckwourth
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on explorer and mountain man James Beckwourth.
Series Description
The stories of African-Americans who have helped make the United States what it is today.
Broadcast Date
Race and Ethnicity
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Director: Wiser, Norman
Producer: Wiser, Norman
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-9-14 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:17
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Chicago: “The glory road; James Beckwourth,” 1966-03-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “The glory road; James Beckwourth.” 1966-03-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: The glory road; James Beckwourth. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from