America’s Hidden History of Conquest and the Meaning of the West

Historian Patricia Nelson Limerick on How Invaders Came to See Themselves as Victims, Then Romanticized the Native Americans They Displaced

Patricia Nelson Limerick is a leading scholar of the American West, and the faculty director and chair of the board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, where she also serves as a professor of history. She has published five books, including The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West, a complex work of scholarship that reframed the narrative of the “opening” of the West. She has been the Colorado State Historian, a columnist for The Denver Post, and a MacArthur Fellow. In …

The Real Heroes of the Overland Trail Were the Oxen | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Oxen Were the Unheralded Heroes of America’s Overland Trails

Over Long Journeys, Westward Migrants Came to Love the 'Noble' Animals They Depended on

Between 1840 and 1869, approximately 300,000 people crossed the United States on their way to settle in Oregon, find gold in California, or practice religion as they desired in …

How Basques Became Synonymous With Sheepherders in the American West | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Basques Became Synonymous With Sheepherders in the American West

Though Few Immigrants Arrived With Experience, They Created an Ethnic Economic Niche That Became a Ladder to Success

One enduring myth of the American West is that people of Basque origins or ancestry came to dominate sheepherding because of the skills they brought with them from the old …

How the Gilded Age Turned Cowboys Into ‘Adventure Heroes’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How the Gilded Age Turned Cowboys Into ‘Adventure Heroes’

Cattle Herding May Have Been Boring and Demeaning, But It Seemed Like an Antidote to Soul-Killing Industrial Jobs

It is rare to find cowboys on the silver screen who spend much time performing the humdrum labor—herding cattle—that gave their profession its name. Westerns suggest that cowboys are …

The Savvy Press Agent Who Invented Buffalo Bill

"Arizona John" Burke Perfected the Art of Hype That Converted a Bison Hunter Into a Symbol of National Character

To appreciate the wonder and luster of a star in the sky, one must look off to its side—“averted vision,” it is called.

So it was in the late 19th century …