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 country.

The real story is less about sheep and more about migration, desperation—and money.

In the 1850s, some Basque families, including the Altubes and the Garats, arrived in California as its mining economy expanded. These early Basques had previously fled to South America during the problematic path of transition from the old regime to a liberal state in the early 19th century. …

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 …

When Variety Theaters Tantalized the Frontier West

In 19th-Century Spokane, Risqué Performances Set off a Battle Over Civil Morality

In the spring of 1897, Spokane, Washington’s Spokesman-Review published an exposé of its city’s thriving red light district—known as Howard Street. The newspaper lingered on distasteful scenes in variety theaters …

Why Sheep Started So Many Wars in the American West

Each Year, an Idaho Festival Honors the Shepherds Who Sought to Keep the Peace

In early October, when the leaves turn golden and the shadows of the Sawtooth Mountains lengthen, the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival moves through south central Idaho. The festival, …