9 photographs, 1 map, index
The Great Plains has long been home to unconventional and leading-edge politics, from the fiery Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan to the country’s first female U.S. representative and first female governor to the nation’s only single-house state legislature. Great Plains Politics provides a lively tour of the Great Plains region through the civic and political contributions of its citizens, demonstrating the importance of community in the region.
Great Plains Politics profiles six men and women who had a profound impact on the civic and community life of the Great Plains: Wilma Mankiller, the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and a political activist at both the local and the national levels; Virginia Smith, an educator from Nebraska who served as a U.S. representative in Congress; Junius Groves, an African American farmer and community builder from Kansas; George McGovern, a South Dakota senator whose 1972 presidential campaign galvanized widespread grassroots support; Robert Dole, a Kansas congressman and longtime senator as well as the Republican candidate for U.S. president in 1988; and Harriet Elizabeth Byrd, the first African American elected as a state representative in Wyoming.
The lives of these individuals illustrate the robust and enduring civic and community involvement of inhabitants of the Great Plains and presage a hopeful continuation of its storied political tradition.