Voices of the American West, Volume 1


Voices of the American West, Volume 1

The Indian Interviews of Eli S. Ricker, 1903-1919

Eli S. Ricker
Edited and with an introduction by Richard E. Jensen

544 pages
16 illustrations, 1 map, 2 appendixes


June 2012


$34.95 Add to Cart

December 2005


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eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2005


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About the Book

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.

Author Bio

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

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Map: The West of Eli S. Ricker
Chapter One: The Garnett and Wells Interviews
1. William Garnett. Biography, Treaties and Treaty Commissions, Killing of Frank Appleton, The Surround of Red Cloud and Red Leaf, Mackenzie-Dull Knife fight, Indian scouts, Crazy Horse, Sun Dances, Pine Ridge Reservation, Wounded Knee, Frank Grouard, Yellow Bear-John Richard Jr. episode, Flagpole at Red Cloud Agency
2. Philip F. Wells. Biography, Sioux customs, language and religion, Little Bighorn, The Messiah/Ghost Dance, Wounded Knee, Drexel Mission fight, Agents and agency service, Sioux tribes and bands, Minnesota war
Chapter Two: The Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee
1. Short Bull. The Messiah, Ghost Dance
2. Joseph Horn Cloud. Wounded Knee, Wounded Knee casualties
3. Dewey Beard. Wounded Knee
4. Louis Mousseau. Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge Reservation
5. William Palmer. Wounded Knee
6. George Little Wound. Wounded Knee
7. Ed Janis. Wounded Knee fatalities
8. William Peano. Wounded Knee fatalities, Pine Ridge Reservation
9. Paddy Starr. Wounded Knee and burials
10. Frank Feather. Wounded Knee fatalities
11. Man Above. Wounded Knee, Indian scouts
12. Standing Soldier. Wounded Knee, Indian scouts, Crazy Horse
13. Creighton Yankton. Wounded Knee hearsay
14. William Denver McGaa. Pine Ridge Reservation, Wounded Knee, Indian scouts
15. James Garvie. Poncas, Wounded Knee, Winnebagos, Santees
16. John Shangrau. Reynolds's Powder River campaign, Wounded Knee, Cheyenne outbreak, Crazy Horse
Chapter Three: The Old West--Indians and Indian Fights
1. Chipps. Crazy Horse
2. American Horse. Grattan fight, Fetterman fight, Red Cloud, Biography, Crazy Horse
3. Charles A. Eastman. S. D. Hinman, Crazy Horse
4. Mrs. Richard Stirk. Biography, Crazy Horse, Saunders escape on Cache la Poudre
5. Louie Bordeaux. James Bordeaux, Frank Grouard, Crazy Horse, Pine Ridge Reservation
6. Respects Nothing. Little Bighorn
7. Moses Flying Hawk. Little Bighorn, Sibley Scout
8. Standing Bear. Little Bighorn
9. Nick Ruleau. Little Bighorn, Fetterman fight
10. Iron Hawk. Christian Indians, Little Bighorn
11. Frank S. Shively. Crow Indian customs, Little Bighorn, Indians and priests, Chief Blackfoot, Indian scouts at Little Bighorn
12. Two Moons. Battles at Tongue River, Rosebud, and Little Bighorn
13. Henry Twist. Black Hills treaty
14. Charles Turning Hawk. Black Hills treaty
15. George Sword. Biography, Crazy Horse, Wagon Box fight
16. Frank Salaway. Biography, Crazy Horse, Grattan fight, Ash Hollow fight, 1865 Horse Creek fight, Pine Ridge Reservation
17. Red Cloud and Clarence Three Stars. Treaties, Black Hills, Grattan fight, Tribal government and policies, Lightning Creek incident, Allotments in severalty
18. Alfred N. Coe. Dakota ministry, Two Sticks case
19. Jacob White Eye. Haircuts at Pine Ridge
20. Eagle Elk. Pine Ridge Reservation
21. Little Wolf. Cheyenne Indians
22. Peter Shangrau. Ute Indians, 1906
23. Maggie Palmer. Janis family
24. Mrs. Nicholas Janis. Nicholas Janis
25. Mrs. Julia Bradford. Henry C. Clifford
26. Nettie Elizabeth Goings. Goings family, Frank Grouard
27. William Girton. Bull Bear/Red Cloud
28. William Young. Henry Young
29. Mrs. Charles C. Clifford. Biography, Saunders escape on Cache la Poudre
30. Amos Ross. Biography, Pine Ridge ministry
Appendix A: Forts
Appendix B: Agencies

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