Catherine Richmond does not question God’s involvement in the writing of her second novel, Through Rushing Water (Thomas Nelson). “The story came together like a jigsaw puzzle, making connections I would label as coincidence if I didn’t know God’s hand was on this story,” she explains.
Humiliated when the man she hoped to marry proposes to her roommate, Sophia Makinoff signs up with the Foreign Board of Missions and is sent to the Dakota Territory to teach the Ponca Indians. When researching the Ponca tribe, Catherine stumbled across a missionary teacher, a Russian woman named Eugenie Nicolas, the same name as a French instructor at Vassar. “Why would a teacher leave what must have been the most comfortable job for the primitive conditions of an Indian agency? Out of that question, Sophia Makinoff was born,” says Catherine.
Further inspired by the famous trial of Standing Bear in 1879, which led to the declaration that an Indian was a person within the meaning of the law, her research unearthed various accounts of the treatment of the Ponca tribe. “Missionaries on Indian reservations had a dual role—to share their Christian faith and to teach U.S. culture. Native American languages and traditions were often lost in the effort,” Catherine shares. “On the positive side, I was encouraged to discover the role the Episcopal Church, specifically Trinity Cathedral, had in helping the Ponca tribe. When all hope was gone, God’s people worked for justice—and won.”
Through Rushing Water depicts the tribe’s eventual eviction from their homeland and their forced march to the Indian Territory as Sophia and an Indian Agency carpenter, Willoughby Dunn, fight to protect the people they have come to love and respect.
Catherine loved writing Sophia’s story. “I hope readers will enjoy Sophia’s journey as much as I did!”
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!