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With his unique blend of intrepidity, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey of more than 25,000 miles up and down and across the vast and myth-inspiring Great Plains. A travelogue, a work of scholarship, and a western adventure, Great Plains takes us from the site of Sitting Bull's cabin, to an abandoned house once terrorized by Bonnie and Clyde, to the scene of the murders chronicled in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It is an expedition that reveals the heart of the American West.
Newspaper editors in the new towns along the cattle trails got a kick out of the phrase “the festive cowboy,” and used it often in their accounts of shootings and brawls. Even before the buffalo were gone, cowboys were driving thousands of cattle north from Texas to railroad shipping points, or to summer ranges, or to Indian agencies. By 1880, the thousands had become hundreds of thousands. Most of the cattle were Texas longhorns, a breed descended from cattle brought to the New World by the
the cattle boom. In Montana, they got together and formed a Vigilance Committee. Its members gave themselves new names, like X or No. 84. The railroads had killed off the steamboat trade, and all along the Missouri River the woodlots that had supplied the boats were now deserted. Men with a lot of time on their hands took to living in the woodlots and thinking up ways to steal horses and cattle. Often these men were buffalo hunters, newly unemployed after killing off their profession. Members of
grass and I are all flesh to this ruin’s bone. * * * In or near the towns of Colstrip, Montana; Rock Springs, Wyoming; Zap, North Dakota; Stanton, North Dakota; and Beulah, North Dakota, there is a different kind of ruin. At those places, and many others on the Great Plains, enormous power shovels strip away the land to dig out coal. From a distance, their posture on a ridge is that of a crow on carrion. Near Zap, you can see two or three of them on the horizon at one time, their booms swinging
and submerge forever hundreds of miles of riverbed and thousands of square miles of bank and valley. Teams of archaeologists working for the government went along the river examining sites and recording data. Another boom followed the Arab oil embargo of 1974, when energy companies were considering mining more coal and building bigger mine-mouth plants to burn it. By law, anyone who plans to dig up public land must first hire an archaeologist to report on the land’s historical significance.
thirty soldiers kill a chief named Conquering Bear and several other peaceful Sioux with a cannon in a dispute which had begun over a lost or stolen cow belonging to a Mormon emigrant. He also saw the Indians respond by killing all the soldiers but one. When he went on the raid against the Omahas, he killed an Omaha woman, and authorities at her agency wanted him arrested. From his late teens on, he fought many battles against the Crows, the Shoshones, and the Army. After a fight with the