Northern Plains Heritage Book Club
Funded by the Northern Plains Heritage Foundation
Organized by the Center for Heritage Renewal
Hosted by the Hazen and Underwood Public Libraries
The public is cordially invited to participate in a series of heritage-themed book discussions taking place in the public libraries of Hazen and Underwood during March and April of 2016. Each discussion will be led by an accomplished scholar of northern plains history and culture. Multiple copies of the books under discussion are available for checkout from the host libraries.
The Northern Plains Heritage Foundation receives support from the National Park Service for the development of heritage resources and for public education about the heritage themes of the Northern Plains National Heritage Area. The three themes of the NPNHA are: Homeland of the Mandan and Hidatsa; Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, and the Corps of Discovery; and George A. Custer and the 7th Cavalry. The books selected for discussion in the Northern Plains Heritage Book Club (no membership, just come!) pertain directly to the three heritage themes.
The Center for Heritage Renewal is a research and service center of North Dakota State University, working in the fields of historic preservation and heritage tourism.
Fenn, Elizabeth A. Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History, 2015. “From start to finish, Fenn immerses readers in a strictly Native world—specifically, the Mandan peoples of present-day North Dakota—where everything from the names of the seasons to the spaces the Mandans occupied or revered are reconstructed from the Mandan perspective.” Writes another distinguished reviewer, “The Mandan story is a reminder that even the most flourishing societies can be brought low, in virtually an instant, by the unpredictable workings of the natural world (to say nothing of human foes). But Fenn's account tells us also that cultures can persist and even recover in the wake of such awful devastation.”
Rhonda, James P. Lewis and Clark among the Indians. Considered by many scholars to be the best single book ever written on Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery—because, unlike previous works, it unpacks the lives and actions of the native people who were not just discovered by, but themselves discovered, Lewis and Clark on the Missouri River. Truly, the critics agree, a landmark work—an early reviewer adjudged it “a brilliant book, extremely well written, superbly researched, masterfully organized.” Readers may recognize Ronda’s name, or his ideas, from the Ken Burns documentary, Lewis and Clark.
Lubetkin, John. Jay Cooke’s Gamble: The Northern Pacific Railroad, the Sioux, and the Panic of 1873. The author, Lubetkin, is a retired businessman turned historian whose great talent is combining the big picture—the financing and finagling of the Northern Pacific Railroad—with the specific story of stirring events on the northern plains in the early 1870s. His subject is the Northern Pacific Railroad surveys of 1871-73 and the military actions associated with them in Dakota and Montana. What happened on the prairies not only brought down a business empire but also pitted two storied champions of their respective peoples—Sitting Bull and George A. Custer—against one another in a contest of arms and wits.
Dakota Goodhouse, an enrolled Standing Rock Sioux, is instructor of Native American studies at United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, and previously taught at University of Mary. He has worked in several venues for public history and humanities, including Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park and the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and managed public programming for the North Dakota Humanities Council. He is the author of the notable weblog, First Scout, devoted to Native American culture and American western history. In public presentations such as his recent lecture to the Lakota History Conference, and in observances of sesquicentennial events of the Dakota War, he has proven a knowledgeable and accessible scholar.
Michael Yellow Bird is a citizen of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) and the holder of a PhD from the University of Wisconsin. He joined the NDSU faculty in the fall of 2014 as professor and director of the Tribal and Indigenous Studies program at North Dakota State University. He previously held appointments at the University of British Columbia, University of Kansas, Arizona State University, and Humboldt State University. Among his teaching and research interests are indigenous peoples’ health, leadership, and cultural rights; the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization; traditional mindfulness and contemplative practices; ancestral and paleo eating and lifestyle; and the rights of Mother Earth.
Frank Varney, associate professor of History at Dickinson State University, earned his PhD at Cornell University. A specialist in the Civil War era and a teacher by immersion, Varney leads student groups to Civil War battlefields and speaks frequently to Civil War Roundtables and historical societies. He teaches US and classical history at DSU, and while also fulfilling administrative functions, has made an outstanding record of scholarly publication. His new book published by Savas-Beatie, General Grant and the Rewriting of History, has received lavish academic reviews and impressive public recognition. In 2013 Varney was named DSU’s Distinguished Professor of the Year.