The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, & the Rush to Colorado

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University Press of Kansas, 1998 - History - 422 pages
16 Reviews
"The Contested Plains" recounts the rise of the Native American horse culture, white Americans' discovery and pursuit of gold in the Rocky Mountains, and the wrenching changes and bitter conflicts that ensued. After centuries of many peoples fashioning their own cultures on the plains, the Cheyenne and other tribes found in the horse the power to create a heroic way of life that dominated one of the world's great grasslands. Then the discovery of gold challenged that way of life and led finally to the infamous massacre at Sand Creek and the Indian Wars of the late 1860s. Illuminating both the ancient and more recent history of the plains and eastern Rocky Mountains, West creates a tapestry interlaced with environmental, social, and military history. He treats the 'frontier' not as a morally loaded term, either in the traditional celebratory sense or the more recent critical judgment, but as a powerfully unsettling process that shattered an old world. He shows how Indians, goldseekers, haulers, merchants, ranchers, and farmers all contributed to and in turn were consumed by this process, even as the plains themselves were utterly transformed by the clash of cultures and competing visions.

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Review: The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado

User Review  - Jeffery Conklin - Goodreads

A good but tuff read, written at the not quite academic level this book requires careful and not light hearted reading. I read it over the course of a whole year, just a chapter or two between other lighter reads. Read full review

Review: The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado

User Review  - Laurie Pope - Goodreads

I am reading this book for a class on Colorado history. It is very revealing and points out that the Euro American view of the West was far different than the reality. I have spent a lot of time ... Read full review


A Scrap and a Panic
The Old World
Frontiers and Visions

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About the author (1998)

Elliott West is a professor of history at the University of Arkansas. His works include The Way to the West: Essays on the Central Plains.

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