Emigrants' livestock; populism; Omaha, Pawnee history in GP Quarterly

Released on 08/23/2012, at 9:19 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., August 23rd, 2012 —
Great Plains Quarterly summer 2012 issue
Great Plains Quarterly summer 2012 issue

            In the summer issue of Great Plains Quarterly, an academic journal published by the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, researchers wrote about 19th-century emigrants and their concerns for their animals on the overland trails, Christopher Lasch and his relationship with the Prairie Populism movement, and the cultural changes experienced by the Omaha and Pawnee nations.

            In "'I Fear the Consequences to Our Animals': Emigrants and Their Livestock on the Overland Trails," Diana L. Ahmad used diaries, letters, and guidebooks written by emigrants who crossed the North American trails during the mid-19th century to reveal a new awareness of the animals that journeyed with them. "Domestic animals successfully brought thousands of emigrants to Utah, California and Oregon. The overlanders learned that their success depended in large measure on the treatment of their animal traveling companions," wrote Ahmad, associate professor of American history at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

            Jon K. Lauck, a native of South Dakota and author of numerous books on politics in the Plains, wrote about a modern advocate of populism in "Christopher Lasch and Prairie Populism." Lasch, who was born in Omaha in 1932 to intellectual and progressive parents, taught in the history department at the University of Iowa during the 1960s. There he increasingly blamed liberals for the spreading consumerism, deepening self-absorption, and rising individualism that undermined the possibility of substantive social reform. "During these years, Lasch began his explicit turn toward forms of populism. He drew upon his Midwestern heritage in his search for groups who had resisted the changes in American culture," said Lauck.

            In "Indians and Empires: Cultural Change among the Omaha and Pawnee, from Contact to 1808," Kurt E. Kinbacher, who holds a doctoral degree in history from the UNL and teaches history at Spokane Falls Community College, wrote about the divergent groups of Native Americans who claimed vast territories and created dynamic cultures. Kinbacher makes the case that "Indian nations were never passive players in their own dispossession," and "both the Omaha and Pawnee peoples reimagined their own potentials and expanded their horizons and spheres of influence."

            Current issues of the journal may be purchased in the Great Plains Art Museum gift shop, 1155 Q St., or by calling the center at 402-472-3082. Order forms are available online at www.unl.edu/plains.

Writer: Linda Ratcliffe, Center for Great Plains Studies, 402-472-3965


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