Great Plains Indians

David J. Wishart. Bison, $14.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-0-8032-6962-0
In this slim volume, Wishart (The Last Days of the Rainbelt), professor of geography at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, aims to illuminate the geographical and cultural dispossession of the Great Plains Indians over the past two centuries, and to explore possibilities for a brighter future. Following an intriguing depiction of this culture’s origins more than 10,000 years in the past, Wishart paints a detailed picture of its pre-contact civilization, and a heartbreaking one of the processes through which, by the end of the 19th century, the Plains Indians “had become strangers in their own land.” By this time, their territories had been seized and settled by white Americans, and the great bison herds which had sustained them over centuries “had been reduced to fields of bones whitening the prairie.” Epidemic disease, alcohol abuse, and circumscribed educational opportunities only added to the Plains people’s woes. Wishart concludes on a guardedly hopeful note, stressing the notable recent growth of the Plains population and the possibility that these increasing numbers of voters can wield greater political influence. Although this study is a work of synthesis rather than original scholarship, its clear and succinct overview of Plains culture and history will enlighten the casual reader. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2017
Release date: 09/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-8032-9093-8
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