Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Sun Room, Memorial Union
ISU President Steven Leath
Lecture: Too often standard histories of the American West begin with the journey of Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery in 1804-06. In fact, those famous explorers were entering the West during a time of vibrant change. For well more than a century the western story had been one of global exchanges, economic dynamism, and the jockeying of great powers, both Indian and European. My talk will enter this turbulent history, from the 1680s to the time of Lewis and Clark's departure up the Missouri River, through the stories of three individuals:a French teenaged boy, a Missouria Indian woman and a young New Mexican mother whose odyssey through five cultures began with her capture by Comanches. Their stories include shipwrecks, a murder and a massacre, Indians hunting rabbits with the king of France, and woodpeckers carrying messages to the stars. They are vivid reminders that the history of the American West is older, richer and even more interesting than most of us realize.
Biography: Elliott West received his B.A. from the University of Texas (1967) and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado (1971). He joined the University of Arkansas faculty in 1979. Two of his books, Growing Up With the Country: Childhood on the Far-Western Frontier (1989) and The Way to the West: Essays on the Central Plains (1995) received the Western Heritage Award. The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado (1998) received five awards including the Francis Parkman Prize and PEN Center Award. His most recent book is The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story (2009).
In 1995, West was awarded the Univ. of Arkansas Teacher of the Year and the Carnegie Foundations Arkansas Professor of the Year. In 2001 he received the Baum Faculty Teaching Award, and in 2009 he was one of three finalists for the Robert Foster Cherry Award recognizing the outstanding teacher in the nation. For more information on Elliott West, please visit his faculty page.