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Unit 6 Test – due by 12:30 pm 12/9

Here’s the test for Wednesday, December 9.

Download and then type directly into this Word document. Your answers do not have to fit into the space provided; you can expand the space as needed. When you are done, save the document with your last name in the title, and upload it to Digital Dropbox on the course Blackboard. It is due by 12:30 today.

Thanks! Prof. Hangen

Unit 6 Test on Wednesday

Class is cancelled today because of severe weather, so here is what we will do about the test: we will go to “online course mode.” The test will be available as a Word document on Blackboard and on the course blog at 10:00 am today, and your completed exam will be due back in my Digital Dropbox by 12:30 pm.


Prof. Hangen

This test will look at the West from the mid-20th century until now, considering its importance as a region that relies heavily on tourism, a region that possesses vast tracts of federally-controlled or public lands (including the majority of the national parks), and a region that has been economically and ecologically stressed by rapid population growth and urban development.

You will want to review the readings for this unit, and any class notes. There will not be a map portion of this exam.

See you Wednesday!

Mythbuster: Geronimo

Geronimo is known to be one of the most famous and most dignified Native Americans of the American west. He struck fear into the heart of his enemies, while he boosted the morale of his Apache allies. There are countless stories that romanticize Geronimo giving him a supernatural appearance. But, the problem that lies amongst these stories is how to distinguish which ones are myth and which ones are reality.

Quite possibly, the largest misunderstanding about Geronimo is his name, because his real birth name is Goyathlay. Geronimo was born in June of 1829, near present day Clifton, Arizona [2]. He was given the name Goyathlay, which can be translated as “one who yawns” [2] or as “shrewd” [1]. He was raised as a warrior prince from birth, but did not start his warrior training till he was seven years old [1]. He would train as a warrior and live in peace with the Mexicans and the white settlers, for the next twenty years. This would change in the mid 1850’s when Goyathlay’s family was attacked by Mexican forces, while he went to town with other warriors from the tribe. Goyathlay became enraged by this pathetic attack and vowed to attack anyone who encroached upon his people’s territory [1]. Also, he immediately attacked the Mexicans who killed his family. During the ambush he killed many men in hand to hand combat. In fact, he killed so many Mexicans, that when they saw him charging at them they would shout “Geronimo! Geronimo, is coming!” [1]. With this being said, Geronimo the bloodthirsty warrior was born.

Goyathlay would never again be called by his birth name, he would be known as Geronimo for the rest of his life, and Geronimo embraced this. He enjoyed the fame that his new name brought him, it hyped him up and gave “power” to himself. Geronimo would go on to raid settlers and Mexicans for the next twenty years. During this time he was captured twice and both times he escaped. But, he surrendered in 1886 and was eventually brought to Fort Sill where he would remain until his death. While at Fort Sill Geronimo became a celebrity and gained a great deal of fame. With fame comes rumors, and rumors grow into myths. There were many myths surrounding Geronimo during his life time and even more in his death.

Our society is familiar with Geronimo through two of his greatest myths that remained in our society for over one hundred years. The first is the myth that Prescott Bush (grandfather of George W. Bush) claimed to take Geronimo’s skull from an Apache cemetery at, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Prescott claimed that while he was stationed at Fort Sill in 1915 (for World War I), he and a couple of his friends found the grave of Geronimo and stole his skull and femur. Once they had it in there possession they brought it with them to a “tomb” on the Yale university campus, for their secret society, the Skull and Bones.

David Miller, a scholar for Cameron university, who has been studying Geronimo his whole life says otherwise. He claims that Geronimo’s grave wasn’t in the Apache cemetery at the time while Prescott Bush was stationed at Fort Sill. He goes on to say that “Geronimo’s grave was actually miles away across a washed-out bridge and nearly inaccessible.” [3] In a way, it is amazing how (even in death) Geronimo was able to escape from the white man.

Geronimo’s legacy still lives on and is even transferred from kid to kid on a playground. Why is it that Children call out “Geronimo!” when they jump from something high. This saying comes from one of Geronimo’s greatest myths. It was said that during one of Geronimo’s escape attempts he ran to the top of Medicine Bluff (a cliff near Fort Sill that is over a 100 feet tall) and jumped off it into a river for a successful escape [4]. There is also a claim that when he jumped off he shouted “Geronimo!” (it would later be depicted into a film titled Geronimo) [4]. This escape act was of course a myth, because no man could jump off a hundred foot bluff and survive. But, many people choose to believe this act because of Geronimo’s incredible supernatural powers.

In conclusion, Geronimo was an incredible man and it is not wrong to believe that he was a great warrior and leader. But, he was only human. He still dies in the end and his bones are still at Fort Sill to prove it. But, should children shout out the name Geronimo when they jump from high place’s? This answer lies within the myth and maybe it is the myth of Geronimo that our society wants to embrace. Geronimo’s myth is his greatest legacy.

Author: Nathan Strub


[1] Aleshire, Peter, “The Fox and the Whirlwind” New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2000

[2] Geronimo – The last Apache Holdout. ©Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated June, 2008.

[3] Myths about Geronimo’s Remains Get new Life. Sean Murphy, Associated Press
Sunday, May 17, 2009

[4] Geronimo. Wikipedia.org.

Mythbuster: Sacagawea

Sacagawea was the only Indian woman on the Lewis and Clark expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery. Sacagawea was mainly an interpreter and helped as a guide to find food. She also helped Lewis and Clark in the purchasing of horses from her home village. Sacagawea was kidnapped from her Shoshone tribe by the Hidatsa tribe and married a French- Canadian man, Toussaint Charbonneau who had settled or joined the Hidatsa tribe. Charbonneau however, had two Shoshone wives and there is a myth that a Shoshone woman said to be Sacagawea had died in April 1884. The problem is that we do not know if Sacagawea was in fact the same Shoshone woman who was said to have died that year.

Sacagawea was born around 1788. In 1805 she had a son making her out to be around 17 years old. Her and her family were a part of the expedition in that year and there were some recordings in the Lewis and Clark journals. She had left the expedition with her husband and there were not many recordings of what had happened with her and her family until 1809 when they visited William Clark. In 1812 Sacagawea gave birth to her daughter and reportedly fell sick due to what is now called diphtheria. In the year of 1812 Sacagawea would have been about 24 years old.

Researchers believe that Sacagawea died in 1812 a few months after her daughters birth. They believe that she was in her mid twenties. At the end of Sacagawea and her husband’s part on the expedition Clark records in his journal that “Chabono… sent his baggage with his wife and son… to the canoes provided for them (Aug. 17th 1806 Lewis and Clark Journal).” This recording is a very important part to this myth because other researchers have said that the wife that went with Charbonneau on the canoe and boats was not Sacagawea but instead was his other wife. This idea is crucial because it would mean that Charbonneau’s other wife was the one who died in 1812 rather than Sacagawea.

Charbonneau and Sacagawea were said to have moved together to St. Louis to farm but Charbonneau gave up farming after a few short months and returned to Fort Manuel with his wife. The tricky thing is that historians don’t know if Sacagawea or his other Shoshone wife was the one returning to Fort Manuel on the boat. One researcher, Dr. Grace Hebard, believes that the wife who accompanied Charbonneau to Fort Manuel was not Sacagawea. She said that Sacajawea’s after some abuse from her husband “Sacagawea disappeared from her tepee and left Charbonneau, never to return” (Hebard 154).

The theory that Hebard believed and was published was that Sacagawea left her husband and went to live with the Comanche tribe. Hebard says that the woman who accompanied Charbonneau on the boat to Fort Manuel was his other wife. On the boat however, his wife fell ill and died of a sickness in 1812. Sacagawea is reported having a daughter in 1812 and falling ill after the birth.

Although the events on the boat match up with the idea that Sacagawea was the wife that went with Charbonneau to Fort Manuel Hebard believed otherwise. She insisted that Sacagawea left her husband and fell into the Comanche tribe and died at the age of nearly 100 in 1884. And that the wife on the boat was Charbonneau’s other woman.

In a list of people that were in the Lewis and Clark expedition, Clark had written the status next to their name, living, or dead. Near the bottom of the recorded list next to Sacagawea’s name said dead. This list was created in 1825 to 1828. Which means that if The list was made in those years Sacagawea had to have been the wife who died in 1812.

In my own opinion after my readings and finding of many different documents, I believe that Sacagawea died at the age of 25 in 1812. She is said to have fallen ill after her daughters birth in 1812 and a woman on the boat with her husband had fallen sick in 1812. The times of the death and events in 1812 match up with the idea that Sacagawea did die in that year. Although there is no concrete evidence of her death, she is said to have already been dead in 1825 by Clark. “There were stories that it was another wife of Charbonneau’s that died in Fort Manuel, but historians don’t give much credence to this(Biography).” Sacagawea would have also had to be 97 years old if she died in 1884 and in modern times with the medical technologies we have today it is very hard to live up to that many years, so I do not see how in 1884 someone would live so long. The myth continues however because it is very hard to prove without documents or evidence.

Author: Veronica Perez


Clark, William. The journals of Lewis and Clark. August 1806.

Hebard, Grace Raymond. Sacagawea, a Guide and Interpreter of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, with an Account of the Travels of Toussaint Charbonneau, and of Jean Baptiste, the Expedition Papoose. Glendale, Calif.,: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1933.

Howard, Harold P. Mystery of Sacagawea: Indian Girl with Lewis and Clark. Stickney, S. D.: H. P. Howard, 1969.

Perdue, Theda, and Ebrary Inc. Sifters: Native American Women’s Lives. In Viewpoints on American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Sacagawea. Biography of Sacagawea. A&E Television Networks, 2009.

Mythbuster: The Donner Party

Just about everyone who has studied American History has heard of the Donner party, generally seen as a nightmarish footnote in pioneer history. The lurid and scandalous details publicized at the time and shortly after, however inaccurate they may have been, still echo in the popular imagination and are stated as facts today [1]. But what really did happen?

The general story goes something like this:

The Donner party was the last wagon train to set out for California in 1846, and they moved very slowly, encumbered by heavy wagons and excess baggage. [2] In an effort to save time they decided to take Hastings Cutoff, which was touted in Lansford Hastings’ guidebook, The Emigrant’s Guide to Oregon and California, and crossed south of the Great Salt Lake, instead of taking the usual route to the north. They had been told that it was supposed to be a shortcut, but it ended up costing them dearly in time and supplies lost in their crossing of the Salt Desert. [3] By the time they got to Truckee Meadows they were already short on food, and after pausing shortly to regroup they decide to press on and cross the mountains. The snow began to fall. Some of them reached Donner Lake (then called Truckee Lake) and made a camp near a cabin that was already there [4], some (including the Donners themselves) camped further back by Alder Creek. They quickly become trapped [4].

Now, everyone knows that members of the Donner party committed acts of cannibalization in order to survive. There is no arguing this, although various members of the group denied, or later came to deny that they were involved in it [3]. It was well documented that the group sent out to try and find help not only ate fallen members of their group [5], but also killed and consumed Lewis and Salvador, their Indian guides sent from Ft. Sutter, who were themselves also near death [6]. While this is a horrible thing to think about, it must be remembered that the people who were in this group were not only starving, freezing, and in many cases dying, but also believed that they were the only chance that the people back at the campsites had for survival, and many of them had left their children behind. Back in the camps things were just as grim, although not quite as desperate. Party members ate everything that was available, including the hides that formed and insulated their shelters. In fact, the people in the camps did not begin eating their dead until two months after they had sent out the party to seek help – not even until after help had arrived, bringing far too little food to sustain the starving emigrants [7]. Things were not much better for those rescued – while the people who went back with the First Relief group escaped relatively unscathed (they only lost 3 people on the way back, although they did have to resort to eating rawhide for 3 days [8]), the people who went with the Second Relief party were not so fortunate. They had left a week’s worth of supplies with the people remaining at the camps, and started back, expecting to cross paths with the Third Relief party (which was starting to prepare when the Second Relief party started out) who would have food for them, but they were nowhere to be seen [9]. Most of the group was too weak to continue without food, and remained at what came to be called “Starved Camp” while a few of the healthier members pressed on to get help. Those who remained lasted as long as possible with the small quantity of tea and sugar that they had, and then began eating those who had passed away [10]. They were subsequently rescued by the delayed Third Relief, who also brought everyone but the last 6 party members out, three of whom were too weak to travel, two of whom were left to care for those staying (both of whom decided that this would be suicide, and left almost immediately to join the relief party), and one, Tamsen Donner, who chose to stay with her dying husband [11]. The fourth and final relief party arrived a month later, in mid-April to find no one left alive except Lewis Keseberg, who had been too weak to travel with the Third Relief. It is from articles in the California Star, published around this time (some but not all of which contain testimony from Fourth Relief party leader William O. Fallon), that the lasting and horrible images of the Donner party’s cannibalization as acts of wicked depravity originate [12], [13]. Keseberg’s own testimony, of course, refutes this [14], and he won a suit for slander against some of the members of the Fourth Relief [15].

Fairly recently there has been some contention that there was no cannibalization in the camps due to there being no archeological evidence found to confirm its occurrence in recent digs, however coming to this conclusion is reading more into what was found (and what was not found) than is warranted [3]. While there is ample historical testimony to the fact that members of the Donner party did cannibalize their dead (and in the case of the Lewis and Salvador, actually killed people for food), it is unfair to label them for all time as the bloodthirsty monsters characterized by their portrayal in the California Star. What the archeological evidence does show is that they did everything that was possible to survive before they were reduced to eating their dead [3]. This makes them out not to be monsters, but instead just starving people, at the end of their resources, trying desperately to survive.

Author: Emily Nelson


[1] Diamond, Jared. “Living through the Donner Party”. Discover, 3/12/1992. http://discovermagazine.com/1992/mar/livingthroughthe4

[2] Johnson, Kristin. “Some Donner Party Myths and Legends”. New light on The Donner Party. http://www.utahcrossroads.org/DonnerParty/Briefmyths.htm Accessed 11/9/09.

[3] Goodyear, Dana. “What Happened at Alder Creek?” The New Yorker, Vol. LXXXII, No. 10, 4/24/06. pp 140-151.

[4] McGlashan, Charles F. History of the Donner Party: A Tragedy of the Sierra. 1880. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004. pp. 38-42.

[5] “Distressing News”. California Star. 2/13/1847. The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist6/donner.html Accessed 11/9/09.

[6] McGlashan, Charles F. History of the Donner Party: A Tragedy of the Sierra. 1880. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004. pp. 78-79.

[7] Breen, Patrick. Diary of Patrick Breen one of the Donner Party. 1846-7. Online archive of California. http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=tf10000759&doc.view=items&brand=oac Accessed 11/9/09.

[8] Rhoads, Daniel. “Statement of Daniel Rhoads regarding the relief of the Donner Party, 1846” Bancroft Library, 1873. Wikisource.org. Accessed 11/9/09.

[9] Reed, James. M. Second Relief Diary. new light on The Donner Party. http://www.utahcrossroads.org/DonnerParty/SecondReliefDiary.htm Accessed 11/9/09.

[10] Woodworth, S.E. “San Francisco, April 1, 1847”. Morning News, New London, CT. 10/25/1847. America’s Historical Newspapers, NewsBank.com. Accessed 11/9/09.

[11] McGlashan, Charles F. History of the Donner Party: A Tragedy of the Sierra. 1880. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004. pp. 134-135.

[12] Leonard, A.T., Jr. “Rambles in California: A Question of Authorship”. California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 3, 9/1951.

[13] Fallon, William O. “EXTRACTS from a JOURNAL Written by a Member of the Party Latest from the California Mountains”. California Star 6/5/1847. New light on The Donner Party. Accessed 11/9/09.

[14] McGlashan, Charles F. History of the Donner Party: A Tragedy of the Sierra. 1880. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004. pp. 170-173.

[15] Ibid. p. 179.

Mythbuster: John Dillinger

Many believe that John Dillinger was a type of “Robin Hood” thief, or a romantic outlaw. Many people devastated by the depression praised Dillinger as someone who “robbed those who became rich for robbing the poor” (FBI). He helped many poor people escape unrealistic payments by burning their mortgage papers and even became known as “Gentlemen Johnny” because, even while in the midst of a bank robbery, he was known to be very charismatic and polite, especially to women.

John Dillinger cannot be considered a modern day Robin Hood based on the fact that he was public enemy number one for a few different reasons. Dillinger and his gang were responsible for killing ten and wounding seven other people. Dillinger himself would use innocent bystanders as hostages to escape a bank robbery. He escaped prison on a few occasions, with his gang even killing a sheriff in the process. An individual who stands by their men even though they killed someone cannot be referred to as a modern day Robin Hood, because Robin Hood was known to discourage killing. He would not kill unless he was threatened, while Dillinger stood by his men after they shot a sheriff, beat him unconscious, then left him for dead (FBI). The sheriff was not the only person that Dillinger’s men killed. His men were frequently in shoot outs with police in which bystanders were put in danger through the cross fire. Robin Hood’s goal was to help the people in his community. Dillinger did the opposite, he put the public in danger because of his hold ups.

Robin Hood was a valiant hero who did not steal from banks to benefit himself. John Dillinger on the other hand was a vicious criminal. Despite the fact that Dillinger helped the poor buy burning their mortgage papers, he did not give the money he robbed to the people who were suffering the worst of the depression. Dillinger and his men kept the money that they stole for themselves. The only Behavior of John Dillinger’s that mirrored that of Robin Hood was the fact that he did take money from the rich people. Another difference between the two was the fact that Dillinger and his gang would break into police stations and steal bullet proof vests and guns. Robin Hood was not the type to take weapons from the law enforcement personnel by force.

While John Dillinger is a no doubt criminal the fact that he was intelligent cannot be overlooked. Dillinger escaped prison twice, the second time he escaped from an “escape proof” jail using only a wooden gun he whittled. He might have been a celebrity while he was public enemy number one for trying to escape the plunge of the economy, but we cannot push the fact that he and his men were responsible for ten deaths and robbing around what would be five million dollars today’s money. Robin Hood was considered a hero, while Dillinger was a danger to the society.

Author: Alisha LaConte


Barber, M. (2007). “What women can learn from John Dillinger.” The Miami Herald (FL), Retrieved from Newspaper Source database.

Christopher, G. (2009). “America’s own Robin Hood.” The Sunday Times 7. Retrieved from Newspaper Source database.

FBI, (n.d.). Famous cases. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/libref/historic/famcases/dillinger/dillinger.htm

May, A, & Bardsely, M. (Photographer). (2008). John Dillinger [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/gangsters_outlaws/outlaws/dillinger/1.html

Unit 6 (11/30 – 12/9): Go West Again, This Time as a Tourist

In this unit we scrutinize the imagined West within the real West in our own time – how do they overlap for tourists, recreationists, and visitors? We look at the contradictions and ironies in the burgeoning tourist industry in the West of the mid-20th century to today.

34. Mon 11/30 West for Sale
Reading: explore the website for “Rawhide” in Scottsdale AZ

35. Wed 12/2 Museums and National Parks
Reading: WOE Ch 9, “At the Buffalo Bill Museum”

36. Fri 12/4 Roads and Highways
Reading: Susan Sessions Rugh, “Western Adventure” in Are We There Yet? The Golden Age of American Family Vacations [pdf]

37. Mon 12/7 A Trip Down the Colorado River
Reading: Gretchen Reynolds, “On Lake Powell: Kayaking a Reemerging Canyon” in National Geographic Adventure, Aug 2003.

38. Wed 12/9 Unit 6 Test

Mythbuster: American West Duels; Movie Fiction or Historical Fact or Both?

A common theme in Western Movies is the duel. Usually, two men, a bad guy and a hero who is trying to exact revenge, stand in the middle of a dirt road running through the center of the town. The bad guy on one end, the hero on the other. At noon, once the clock sounds, the two men draw their pistols from their holsters and shoot, the villain losing the duel. Personally when I think of films that demonstrate this theme, I think of the films A Fistful of Dollars, High Noon and The Quick and the Dead in which the hero is trying to prove themselves, while at the same time seeking revenge. I wonder though, were duels really a part of the American West? How historically accurate are these scenes in Western movies of duels? If they did occur, how common were duels?

Quick Dead Duel
Screen shot from The Quick and the Dead [4]

In my research I have found that duels are not a product of the American West, nor were they very common in the American West. Dueling originated in Europe amongst Aristocrats, and was a rite of passage to prove one’s honor and manhood. It was a social thing to do in Europe. [1] It was deemed noble and morally correct because, “On the hazy theory that God identified the good guy and lent him a hand, the winner, whether he did his own fighting or hired a proxy, was more than just the winner. By the fact of winning he was held to be innocent of the charges brought; he was honest, and the defeated man a liar; the disputed land, or ox, or fair maiden was rightfully his.”[1]

Dueling did happen in the United States and it was most common in the American South post-Revolutionary War and pre-Civil War, not in the American West. “Kentucky and Tennessee… during and after the Revolution were infinitely more violent than anything that came later.” [2] Dueling during this time period was a staple in American politics and military. “American custom, popular clear into the 1890s, of “posting” in taverns and on street corners notices that called the coward a coward. (Posting was also a common way of issuing a challenge in the first place.) Obeying the code of honor showcased a man’s courage, integrity and conviction, and marked him as leadership material” [1] Most duels in the United States took place in Bladensburg, Maryland, one mile outside of Washington D.C. At this one specific location over one hundred duels occurred [1]. Historically, in the United States, the two most popular duelist were Aaron Burr and Andrew Jackson. Aaron Burr was Vice President of the United States when he shot and mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton. Andrew Jackson, who became President of the United States was involved in 14 duels [1].

Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr in a duel [5]

Dueling did occur in the American West.The American West was a ripe location for dueling, “Scholars suppose that dueling took root with the most primitive judicial systems, when disputes insoluble by witness testimony were solved in a trial by combat” [1] The American West was a violent and lawless place in the 19th century. It was a mixture of ex soldiers, adventurers, gamblers, killers and miners [2]. The people of the American South brought with them their traditions of dueling to the American West [2]. As those traditions went west, they lost their formality, “and sometimes instead of the courtly letter of challenge delivered by a dignified second, a glass of whiskey thrown in the face would suffice.” [1] Instead of the duel, it was more likely someone would be shot and killed from behind unexpectedly, which is how “Wild Bill” met his demise in 1876 when he was assassinated by Jack McCall [3].

There is one case of a duel in the west that was similar to the famous duels of the westerns. This duel starred the infamous “Wild Bill” Hickok and took place in Springfield, Missouri, in 1865, which could be considered the “west”. The duel was against a one Dave Tutt and it took place because of a card game and a woman. The two men faced each at 75 yards, and when Dave Tutt advanced, Hickok drew one of his pistols and shot and killed Dave Tutt [2]. It is a common image of the two duelists drawing their pistols from their holsters as quick as they could and fire off a shot, a quick draw. However, it was more common for the duelists to already have their weapons drawn and took time to aim, since accuracy was more important and than speed [2]. Also dueling in the west usually consisted of the use of bowie knifes, rifles and shotguns, since these were the weapons most people had in the west because they served more practical purposes, pistols were not that common [1].

However, the duel was not the main or a common way to keep law or to settle scores in the American West. Instead, there was a combination of a lynch mob and a court. Vigilance committees were formed to deal with crime and accusations. Typically they consisted of a swift trial and then a public hanging. This was because jails and prisons were far and few between, and those that did exist were easy to escape out of [2]. Scores were settled in the west with minor wars and battles, usually between cattlemen and homesteaders, such as the case of the Johnson County War of 1892 [2].

Through my researched, I have deduced that duels did occur in the American West, but they were not frequent, nor done in the manner which is depicted in western films. Duels were most common in the American south prior to the Civil War, not in the west post-civil war. The west was still a violent, lawless area, but it was not a place of duels, but mostly consisted of brawls, behind the back shootings, hangings, and small wars.

Author: James Hotaling


[1] Holland, Barbara. “Bang! Bang! You’re dead: dueling at the drop of a hat was as European as truffles and as American as mom’s apple pie.” Smithsonian 28.n7 (Oct 1997): 122(8). Academic OneFile. Gale. Worcester State College. 15 Oct. 2009
Gale Document Number:A19868394

[2] May, Robin, and G.A. Embleton. The American West. London: Almark Publishing CO. LTD. 1973. Print.

[3] Rosa, Joseph G. They Called Him Wild Bill: The Life and Adventures of James Butler Hickok. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. 1974. Printed.

[4] http://rossvross.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/border-kid.jpg

[5] http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jah/87.3/images/mr_2_f1.jpg

Mythbuster: Lewis and Clark

It is no myth that Lewis and Clark traveled from the eastern coast of North America to the west in order to fulfill Thomas Jefferson’s long awaited curiosity of the North American western land (2). It was already well known to the Euro-Americans that there were Natives in the west as well as an entire ocean (Pacific) where they did most of their trading through (2). Why Lewis and Clark entitled their trip a discovery, though there were already Natives in the west is unknown.

Lewis and Clark’s expedition began right after Thomas Jefferson the third president bought land in Louisiana, the Louisiana trade purchase. Jefferson wanted to know what the land in the west was like so he chose his secretary Meriwether Lewis to explore the west. Lewis was allowed to chose one co-captain, William Clark. Along with a group of military corps they traveled from the east coast to the west coast (3).

Throughout their journey both Lewis and Clark keep journals of their observations. Jefferson and the other Euro-Americans already knew there were going to be Native encounters as Lewis and Clark traveled west, “President Jefferson had specifically mentioned the need to make a friendly impression [to the Natives]” (5). The journals of Lewis and Clark consist of the journey itself such as the different problems they ran into with the weather, and conditions of the boats as well as the geography, climate, tribes, and the different types of animals that they seen (2).

The west wasn’t necessarily discovered by Lewis and Clark since there were already Natives over there but “The Americans, Lewis and Clark, had first explored the broad stretches of its middle waters” (1). To the Euro-Americans the Natives in the west were uncivilized and had no type of order with in the tribes, Lewis and Clark were “About to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden” on (4). The term discovery refers to the first “civilized” man in the west and not necessarily the first people in the west, the Natives.

Author: Jennifer Hoaglund


(1) Bakeless, John. “Lewis and Clark”. New York. The Domain of Canada. 1947.

(2) “Following the Voyage of Discovery”. Farcountry Press. 2001. 29 October, 2009. http://www.lewisandclark.com/facts/faqs.html

(3) Johnson, Michael L. “Hunger for the Wild Americas Obsession with the Untamed West”. Kansas. The University Press of Kansas, 1992.

(4) Lewis and Clark. “The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition”. University of Nebraska Lincoln. 29 October, 2009. http://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/read/?_xmlsrc=1803-08- 30.xml&_xslsrc=LCstyles.xsl

(5) “Lewis and Clark Journey Log”. National Geographic Society. 1996. 29 October, 2009. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lewisandclark/journey_intro.html

(6) Perry, Douglass. “Teaching with Documents: The Lewis and Clark Expedition”. The US National Archives and Records Administration. 29 October, 2009. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/lewis-clark/

Mythbuster: Buffalo Bill Cody: Hunter or Celebrity?

Wild West Show Poster
If you, like myself, thought that what made Buffalo Bill Cody famous was the buffalo, you may have been deceived. In researching this project I expected to find articles expressing how great a hunter Buffalo Bill was and how many buffalo he slaughtered, but instead I found an abundance of information on “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.” This show put on by Buffalo Bill was apparently “for more than thirty years one of the largest, most popular, and successful businesses in the field of commercial entertainment.” (1)

After the Civil War, William F. Cody began hunting buffalo at first to survive. In his own words, Cody described one experience; “Raising [my gun] to my shoulder I fired, and killed the animal first shot. My horse then carried my alongside the next one, not ten feet away, and I dropped him at the next fire. As soon as one buffalo would fall, Brigham would take me so close to the next, that I could almost touch it with my gun. In this manner, I killed eleven buffalo with twelve shots.” (2) Eventually, Cody would be hired to kill twelve buffalo a day to be paid 500 dollars a month. During this period, Cody killed roughly 3,000 buffalo. (2)

Bill’s show business career began on December 17, 1872 with a show called “The Scouts of the Prairie.” (3) Soon, the Buffalo Bill Combination was created that had shows usually featuring Buffalo Bill, Texas Jack, and Wild Bill Hickok. The Buffalo Bill Combination lasted until 1882, at which point Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was started. Because of the show, cowboys became more accepted in American culture, previously being considered heathens with the name cow-boy intended as an insult. The Wild West shows “demonstrated bronco riding, roping, and other skills that would later become part of public rodeos.” (3) It also featured “dramatic narratives such as ‘The Attack on the Deadwood Stagecoach’ and historical re-enactments like ‘Custer’s Last Stand.’” (4)

Buffalo Bill ‘had a great love and concern for people.’ (3) His shows frequently portrayed Indians as ‘The American’ and treated his former foes with respect and dignity. He was a supporter of women’s rights and the women that performed in his show were paid equally with the men. It’s even been said that “the women in the Wild West often out-rode and out-gunned the men.” (3) One famously known woman is Annie Oakley, also known as Little Sure Shot.

Although Buffalo Bill Cody certainly was a great hunter and did his fair share of decreasing the buffalo population in the West in the 1800s, I think it’s fair to say that his work as a show producer and celebrity surpass the title of hunter in his case. His success with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show has gone down in history and has since changed the way that American’s viewed cowboys and cowgirls. William F. Cody may have gotten the name Buffalo Bill from hunting, but kept it because of his increased popularity as a celebrity of the Wild West.

Author: Kelsey Hinchliffe


[1] Kaplan, Amy, and Donald Pease. Cultures of United States Imperialism. US: Duke University Press, 1993. 164.

[2] Russell, Don. The Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill. OK, US: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960. 87-89.

[3] Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave [http://www.buffalobill.org/history.htm]

[4] Kasson, Joy. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West: Celebrity, Memory, and Popular History. 1st ed. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2001. 4-6.