Kit Carson and the Indians

Thomas W. Dunlay, Author
Thomas W. Dunlay, Author University of Nebraska Press $50 (537p) ISBN 978-0-8032-1715-7
Open Ebook - 525 pages - 978-1-280-46574-1
Hardcover - 559 pages - 978-0-8032-0034-0
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Nebraska historian Dunlay (Wolves for the Blue Soldiers) goes to great lengths in searching for the real Kit Carson and finds the truth somewhere between his image as the romantic superhero of dime novels and the negative image of an Indian killer drawn in recent years by revisionist historians and Native Americans. Arguing his position plainly and thoroughly, the author relates how Carson (1809-1868), an unlettered son of the Missouri frontier, went on to a multifarious career: trapper, western guide and scout, Indian agent, combat soldier, U.S. Army officer, leader, adviser, policeman and peacemaker. Dunlay's Carson is a modest and complex man, riddled with contradictions that have contributed largely to his conflicting reputation as Indian slayer and friend (he is credited with bringing down the Navajo nation--he viewed the Navajo as rabid warriors--but he befriended the Ute peoples, among others. Carson also used his own resources in aiding dispossessed tribal families). Carson had no remorse about employing violence when necessary but could be equally critical of injustices at the hands of the U.S. and of various Indian tribes. In the end, Dunlay succeeds in presenting a man who spent much of his life and efforts solving the problems of both Native Americans and the white settlers, a man who can be criticized and lauded but who clearly contributed to what America has become. As Carson said, ""I done what I thought was best.'"" This book will find a solid readership among western history buffs and those interested in Native American history and affairs. (Oct.)
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