Through the interpretive lens of colonial theory, Jeffrey Ostler presents an original analysis of the tumultuous relationship between the Plains Sioux and the United States in the 1800s. He provides novel insights on well-known aspects of the Sioux story, such as the Oregon Trail, the deaths of “Crazy Horse” and “Sitting Bull”, and the Ghost Dance, and offers an in-depth look at many lesser-known facets of Sioux history and culture. Paying close attention to Sioux perspectives of their history, the book demonstrates how the Sioux creatively responded to the challenges of U.S. expansion and domination, revealing simultaneously how U.S. power increasingly limited the autonomy of their communities as the century came to a close. Ostler’s innovative analysis of the Plains Sioux culminates in a compelling reinterpretation of the events that led to the Wounded Knee massacre of December 29, 1890. –amazon.com
Winner of the 2005 Caughey-Western History Association Prize from the Western History Association.
This magnificent, sweeping work traces the histories of the Native peoples of the American West from their arrival thousands of years ago to the early years of the nineteenth century. Emphasizing conflict and change, One vast winter count offers a new look at the early history of the region by blending ethnohistory, colonial history, and frontier history. Drawing on a wide range of oral and archival sources from across the West, Colin G. Calloway offers an unparalleled glimpse at the lives of generations of Native peoples in a western land soon to be overrun. –amazon.com
Winner of the 2004 John C. Ewers Award from the Western History Association.
This sweeping, richly evocative study examines the origins and legacies of a flourishing captive exchange economy within and among native American and Euramerican communities throughout the Southwest Borderlands from the Spanish colonial era to the end of the nineteenth century.
Indigenous and colonial traditions of capture, servitude, and kinship met and meshed in the borderlands, forming a “slave system” in which victims symbolized social wealth, performed services for their masters, and produced material goods under the threat of violence. Slave and livestock raiding and trading among Apaches, Comanches, Kiowas, Navajos, Utes, and Spaniards provided labor resources, redistributed wealth, and fostered kin connections that integrated disparate and antagonistic groups even as these practices renewed cycles of violence and warfare.
Always attentive to the corrosive effects of the “slave trade” on Indian and colonial societies, the book also explores slavery’s centrality in intercultural trade, alliances, and “communities of interest” among groups often antagonistic to Spanish, Mexican, and American modernizing strategies. The extension of the moral and military campaigns of the American Civil War to the Southwest in a regional “war against slavery” brought differing forms of social stability but cost local communities much of their economic vitality and cultural flexibility.
Winner of the 2003 W. Turrentine Jackson Award from the Western History Association.
In Long day’s journey Carlos Schwantes gathers historical photographs, advertisements, posters, and contemporary accounts to recreate one of the most colorful periods in the American West. He traces the rapidly evolving saga of miners and settlers struggling to get from here to there in the days before railroads reached the West, trying to establish methods of transportation and communication between the eastern United States and the new territories that became Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming―first by sea, around continents, then by land and water routes across America. Many of the enduring images and myths of the West derive from this era: the Pony Express, mule trains and plodding ox-team freighters, the picturesque side-wheelers and stern-wheelers that churned along the rivers, the colorful Concord stagecoaches drawn by four or six jingling, fleet horses.
Schwantes describes in detail the technology of pre-industrial modes of transportation. He explains the economics that linked the birth and death of western towns and cities, the business history of entrepreneurs and stagecoach and steamboat companies, and the challenges facing passengers and employees on the stages and steamers of the northern West. Integrating more than 200 historical photographs and other illustrations with vivid contemporary accounts, Schwantes presents a fascinating history of Americans forging the first working connections between the West and the rest of America―connections that the railroads would soon smooth and strengthen. –amazon.com
Winner of the 2001 Joan Paterson Kerr Book Award from the Western History Association.
In 1940, Phoenix was a small, agricultural city of sixty-five thousand, and the Navajo Reservation was an open landscape of scattered sheepherders. Forty years later, Phoenix had blossomed into a metropolis of 1.5 million people and the territory of the Navajo Nation was home to two of the largest strip mines in the world. Five coal-burning power plants surrounded the reservation, generating electricity for export to Phoenix, Los Angeles, and other cities. Exploring the postwar developments of these two very different landscapes, Power lines tells the story of the far-reaching environmental and social inequalities of metropolitan growth, and the roots of the contemporary coal-fueled climate change crisis.
Andrew Needham explains how inexpensive electricity became a requirement for modern life in Phoenix–driving assembly lines and cooling the oppressive heat. Navajo officials initially hoped energy development would improve their lands too, but as ash piles marked their landscape, air pollution filled the skies, and almost half of Navajo households remained without electricity, many Navajos came to view power lines as a sign of their subordination in the Southwest. Drawing together urban, environmental, and American Indian history, Needham demonstrates how power lines created unequal connections between distant landscapes and how environmental changes associated with suburbanization reached far beyond the metropolitan frontier. Needham also offers a new account of postwar inequality, arguing that residents of the metropolitan periphery suffered similar patterns of marginalization as those faced in America’s inner cities.
Winner of the 2015 Hal K. Rothman Book Prize from the Western History Association.
John Caspar Wild, expert painter and lithographer, produced some of the earliest known depictions of urban America in the nineteenth century. His paintings and prints of Philadelphia; Cincinnati; St. Louis; and Davenport, Iowa, among others, stand as valuable historical records of these cities in an era before large-scale industrialization changed their character.
This beautifully illustrated book presents Wild’s paintings and prints for all to appreciate, and a catalogue raisonné identifies all of his known works. The author draws on his previous writings about Wild—themselves based on specialized studies by earlier scholars—and adds much new information about the artist’s early years in Philadelphia and his accomplishments elsewhere. This talented but largely ignored artist who died well over a century and a half ago is thus at last provided the recognition he deserves.
Winner of the 2008 Dwight L. Smith (ABC-CLIO) Award from the the Western History Association.
Called the “Fighting Cock of the Sioux” by U.S. soldiers, Hunkpapa warrior Gall was a great Lakota chief who, along with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, resisted efforts by the U.S. government to annex the Black Hills. It was Gall, enraged by the slaughter of his family, who led the charge across Medicine Tail Ford to attack Custer’s main forces on the other side of the Little Bighorn. Robert W. Larson now sorts through contrasting views of Gall to determine the real character of this legendary Sioux. This first-ever scholarly biography also focuses on the actions Gall took during his final years on the reservation, unraveling his last fourteen years to better understand his previous forty. Gall, Sitting Bull’s most able lieutenant, accompanied him into exile in Canada. Once back on the reservation, though, he broke with his chief over Ghost Dance traditionalism and instead supported Indian agent James McLaughlin’s more realistic agenda. Tracing Gall’s evolution from a fearless warrior to a representative of his people, Larson shows that Gall contended with shifting political and military conditions while remaining loyal to the interests of his tribe.
Winner of the 2008 Robert M. Utley Award from the Western History Association.
Manifest and other destinies critiques Manifest Destiny’s exclusive claim as an explanatory national story in order to rethink the meaning and boundaries of the West and of the United States’ national identity. Stephanie LeMenager considers the American West before it became a trusted symbol of U.S. national character or a distinct literary region in the later nineteenth century, back when the West was undeniably many wests, defined by international economic networks linking diverse territories and peoples from the Caribbean to the Pacific coast.
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Le Menager highlights the doubts and self-reckonings that developed alongside expansionist fervor and predicted contemporary concerns about the loss of cultural and human values to an emerging global order. In Manifest and other destinies, the American West offers the United States its first encounter with worlds at once local and international, worlds that, as time has proven, could never be entirely subordinated to the nation’s imperial desire. –amazon.com
Winner of the 2005 Thomas J. Lyon Book Award from the Western Literature Association.
Merrill Gilfillan continues to elucidate for us, and add to our appreciation of, one of the most ignored and misunderstood areas of our vast American landscape. Like few American writers, Gilfillan has a deep feeling for, and understanding of, the western grasslands, which give both dignity and a deep historical sense to our sometimes forgotten heartland. Gilfillan’s sense of the land encompasses the plants, wildflowers, and small creatures; the birds that he writes such wonderfully detailed descriptions about; the rivers, watering holes, and butteframed vistas; and, very importantly, the legacy of the Plains tribes of Native Americans who loved this land and fashioned myth and legend about it. By overlaying these myths onto the modern plains landscape, Gilfillan invokes a poignant sense of loss, yet we are also ennobled by the profound sense of the landscape that his vision imparts to us. Gilfillan is a tour guide like no other. His readers are given lovely, lingering descriptions of the overlooked and forgotten, the out-of-the-way and underfoot. –amazon.com
Winner of the 1998 Western States Book Award for creative nonfiction.