Diversity in the west

The West was a more diverse time in history than its representative form of fiction would have you believe. Westerns are, by and large, filtered through a white, male perspective. In addition to the Indians, and the Americans from the East, there was a large Mexican population and waves of European immigrants. There were many accents and languages spoken in the west.

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In the 70’s, a more revisionist approach was taken to the history of the west. This effect started to be felt in western fiction by the end of the decade, and continues to this day. The most well known example of this new approach is Dee Brown’s book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

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Recently, I’ve been picking through the following books:

  • Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, And Little-Known Stories From History by Tricia Martineau Wagner
  • Black Frontiers: A History of African American Heroes in the Old West by Lillian Schlissel
  • Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves by Art T Burton
  • Black, Buckskin, and Blue: African-American Scouts and Soldiers on the Western Frontier by Art T Burton
  • Black, Red and Deadly: Black and Indian Gunfighters of the Indian Territory, 1870-1907 by Art T Burton
  • African American Women of the Old West by Tricia Martineau Wagner
  • The Negro Cowboys by Philip Durham and Everett L. Jones
  • The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West by William H. Leckie

What I hope to do in February is a series of short posts that highlight some of the people covered in these books.

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