Voices of the American West, Volume 1: The Indian Interviews of Eli S. Ricker, 1903-1919 (Paperback)
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The valuable interviews conducted by Nebraska judge Eli S. Ricker with Indian eyewitnesses to the Wounded Knee massacre, the Little Big Horn battle, the Grattan incident, and other events and personages of the Old West are finally made widely available in this long-awaited volume.
In the first decade of the twentieth century, as the Old West became increasingly distant and romanticized in popular consciousness, Eli S. Ricker (1843–1926) began interviewing those who had experienced it firsthand, hoping to write a multi-volume series about its last days. Among the many individuals he interviewed were American Indians, mostly Sioux, who spoke extensively about a range of subjects, some with the help of an interpreter. For years Ricker traveled across the northern Plains, determinedly gathering information on and off reservations, in winter and in summer. Judge Ricker never wrote his book, but his interviews are priceless sources of information about the Old West that offer more balanced perspectives on events than were accepted at the time.
Richard E. Jensen brings together all of Ricker’s interviews with American Indians, annotating the conversations and offering an extensive introduction that sets forth important information about Ricker, his research, and the editorial methodology guiding the present volume.
About the Author
Richard E. Jensen is retired from the Nebraska State Historical Society, where he was senior research anthropologist. His most recent books are The Pawnee Mission Letters, 1834–1851 and Eyewitness at Wounded Knee, both available from the University of Nebraska Press.
“A magnificent achievement to the oral-history sources available on the American West. . . . The strength of the volumes is in the stories told by the interviewees, with their perspectives on key historical events from the Old West, which is equally suited to the student and the academic scholar.”—American Studies
“Ricker proved himself a patient and meticulous oral interviewer, giving voice to people mostly ignored by historians of his day. His subjects document the Ghost Dance as a genuine religious movement, not as a ‘craze’ as described in white accounts. . . . Editor Richard Jensen provides a true service, for having translated Ricker’s arcane handwritten notes into readable form and for his endnotes filled with biographical information.”—James N. Leiker, Kansas History
“Amazing personal accounts [are] in these volumes. . . . Here is western history at its finest—vivid oral narratives that very well may become the stuff of prize-winning stories, novels, and films.”—Bloomsbury Review
“The interviews are a gold mine of information, and researchers will be rewarded for digging through them. Jensen has helped a great deal by organizing the book into three main chapters subdivided by respondent and topic. . . . Ricker left Nebraska and the West an important source of information, and Jensen has made this more user-friendly by his organization and commentary.”—Great Plains Quarterly
“Priceless sources of information that offer more balanced perspectives on events than were accepted at the time. . . . There is no doubt that the voices and stories captured here in both books will be of significant value.”—Lincoln Journal Star
"Anyone wishing to know more about Wounded Knee, the Little Bighorn, the history of the western frontier in general, and many other topics will certainly want to refer to Jensen's work."—Rick Ewig, North Dakota History
"Another brilliant offering."—David Woodbury, of Battlefields and Bibliophiles