Voices of the American West, Volume 2


Voices of the American West, Volume 2

The Settler and Soldier Interviews of Eli S. Ricker, 1903-1919

Eli S. Ricker
Edited by Richard E. Jensen

472 pages
Illus., map


December 2005


$55.00 Add to Cart

June 2012


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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December 2005


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In this second volume of interviews conducted by Nebraska judge Eli S. Ricker, he focuses on white eyewitnesses and participants in the occupying and settling of the American West in the nineteenth century.
In the first decade of the twentieth century, as the Old West became increasingly distant and romanticized in popular consciousness, Eli S. Ricker (1842–1926) began interviewing those who had experienced it firsthand, hoping to write a multivolume series about its last days, centering on the conflicts between Natives and outsiders. For years Ricker traveled across the northern Plains, 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 that time and place, and they offer more balanced perspectives on events than were accepted at the time.
Richard E. Jensen brings together all of Ricker’s interviews with those men and women who came to the American West from elsewhere—settlers, homesteaders, and veterans. These interviews shed light on such key events as the massacre at Wounded Knee, the Little Bighorn battle, Beecher Island, Lightning Creek, the Mormon cow incident, and the Washita massacre. Also of interest are glimpses of everyday life at different agencies, including Pine Ridge, Yellow Medicine, and Fort Sill School; brief though revealing memoirs; and snapshots of cattle drives, conflicts with Natives, and the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad.

Author Bio

Richard E. Jensen retired as a senior research anthropologist at the Nebraska State Historical Society. He is the editor of Charles Allen’s From Fort Laramie to Wounded Knee: In the West That Was and Rolf Johnson’s Happy As a Big Sunflower: Adventures in the West, 1876-1880, both available in Bison Books editions.


“Amazing personal accounts [are] in these volumes, which present for the first time the extensive turn-of-the-century interviews of Eli S. Ricker, a pioneering Nebraska judge and newspaperman who traveled across the Dakotas a hundred years ago, interviewing the last of the old-timers on the northern prairie. . . . Here are the authentic voices of the real people who were actually there at Beecher’s Island, Little Bighorn, and Wounded Knee. 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

“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

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