Contested Plains by Elliot West

1179 Words5 Pages
There are many ways in which we can view the history of the American West. One view is the popular story of Cowboys and Indians. It is a grand story filled with adventure, excitement and gold. Another perspective is one of the Native Plains Indians and the rich histories that spanned thousands of years before white discovery and settlement. Elliot West’s book, Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado, offers a view into both of these worlds. West shows how the histories of both nations intertwine, relate and clash all while dealing with complex geological and environmental challenges. West argues that an understanding of the settling of the Great Plains must come from a deeper understanding, a more thorough…show more content…
Drastic changes occur in the flora due to weather and subsequently lead to the disappearance of many animal species and with these changes, the people adapted. For thousands of years the plains would evolve, change and create a, “history of movement and adjustment, crisis and resolution” . One extreme change for the Indians was the arrival of Anglo-Europeans. Native peoples’ lives were changed at the blink of an eye while new ideas, practices and beliefs were shown to them. The arrival of the Europeans changed the way the Indians viewed their world and manipulated their resources. This new change could be viewed as positive as well as negative, for while some tribes entered into trade relations with the Anglos, others were used as slave labor and all were subject to disease brought on by the European newcomers. However, despite all the advantages and disadvantages, no other introduction changed the lives of the Indians more than firearms and horses. West outlines one of the most important evolutions for Native life and how it represented a new way to harness resources and gain power. In just a few chapters, we are able to see the great advancements the Indians made in hunting and trade due to these new technologies and how they allowed the Cheyennes to rise to a new purpose as the Called Out People. Part Two follows the Gold Rush and shows how energy and power shaped the
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