Broken is the the story of a woman's transformation through her work with an Arapaho medicine man and horse trainer.
Writer Lisa Jones went to Wyoming for a four-day magazine assignment. She was committed to a long-term relationship, building a career, and searching for something she could not name.
At a dusty corral on the Wind River Indian Reservation, she met Stanford Addison, a Northern Arapaho who seemed to transform everything around him. He gentled horses rather than breaking them. It was said he could heal people of everything from cancer to bipolar disorder. He did all this from a wheelchair; he had been a quadriplegic for more than twenty years.
Intrigued, Lisa sat at Stanford’s kitchen table and watched. And she listened to his story. Stanford spent his teenage years busting broncos, seducing girls, and dealing drugs. At twenty, he left the house for another night of partying. By morning, a violent accident had robbed him of his physical prowess and left in its place unwelcome spiritual powers—an exchange so shocking that Stanford spent several years trying to kill himself. Eventually he surrendered to his new life and mysterious gifts. Over the years Lisa was a frequent visitor to Stanford’s place, the reservation and its people worked on her, exposing and healing the places where she, too, was broken. This is her story, intertwined with Stanford’s, and it explores powerful spirits, material poverty, spiritual wealth, friendship, violence, confusion, death, and above all else, love.
Freelance journalist Jones tells the story of Arapaho medicine man Stanford Addison, a quadriplegic and gifted horse trainer and his effect on animals: "The horses would gather around, their liquid brown eyes fixed on him. He'd roll away across the dirt. They'd put their noses down and follow him until he stopped rolling." Jones chronicles the Addison family's triumphs and losses on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, a place plagued by poverty and "defined by struggle." Along the way, Jones takes in lost souls, like "the half-melted cowboy" Moses. At a crossroads in her life, Jones much like those she cares for is spiritually lost, but while in Wyoming, she stumbles upon her own journey of self-discovery. With an eye for detail, Jones brings each character to life; she describes Addison as "his paralyzed, six-toothed, one-lunged Plains Indian would take a drag of his KOOL Filter King, sigh, and say something like 'I guess the thing I miss most since the accident is ski jumping.' " At the book's core are the themes of healing, redefining family and home, and "finding your center." In the end, Jones reveals the beauty, ruin and spirituality of life on the "rez."