The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 496
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
discover both himself and the essence of America. Our general concept
of the frontier, after all, is our concept of the nineteenth-century Great
Plains (Indians, buffalo hunters, railroaders, homesteaders, and cow-
boys), largely because it was the last region of the country to be settled.
In addition to its element of self-discovery, Frazier's book is a popu-
lar, if eclectic and somewhat rambling (like the plains themselves), his-
tory. He provides information on, among many other things, rivers,
early explorers, Indians (the Ghost Dance, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse),
music (from Bob Wills to Lawrence Welk), outlaws, coal mining, eth-
nicity, Custer, cowboys, the Asian steppes, plant explorers, wheat, the
Dust Bowl, and missile silos. Historical exposition is alternated with
personal experience, with observations on cafe chatter, on his meeting
and talking with an Oglalla Sioux man on the streets of New York, on
the mundane daily work of a rancher friend in Wyoming, on the inde-
finable borders of the Great Plains, on the pure joy he felt at a commu-
nity celebration among the descendants of black homesteaders (Exo-
dusters) in Nicodemus, Kansas.
Joy, he feels, is a common trait among true plains folk, a feeling
shared by those as diverse as Custer and the very Indians he set out to
subdue. How else to explain the Wild West Shows, those reenactments
of buffalo hunting, Indian fighting, roping and riding, and stagecoach
robbing that allowed old-time plainsmen (and born-too-late plainsmen)
to relive the joy of their "real" lives, lives that many felt had ended
when the West was won?
I share many of Frazier's urges, particularly his bent to seek out little-
known historic sites and to explore abandoned houses and farmsteads.
He has hit a couple of sites that I would especially like to see-Sitting
Bull's cabin in North Dakota, the Texas bridge where Bonnie and
Clyde wrecked their car on the Red River, a prehistoric buffalo jump in
This is not meant to be a scholarly book, though it is thoroughly in-
formed by scholarship. There are no numbered footnotes, but Frazier
does include commentary on sources, which I found to be nearly as
much fun to read as the main text. I do wish, however, that the index
were more thorough.
Frazier's insights about the plains are particularly good, such as his
observation that they are so big (geographically, historically, culturally)
that one can never know all there is to know about them (which may be
why he limits himself to the American, rather than the North Ameri-
can, plains; the Canadian Prairie Provinces are barely mentioned).
Other insights are humorous: "The Comanche made a distinction
among whites between Texans and all others. Then, as now, it was pos-
sible to tell the difference" (p. 54). And some show deep concern (this
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/560/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.