Great Plains Indians

Great Plains Indians

Great Plains Indians

Great Plains Indians


David J. Wishart's Great Plains Indians covers thirteen thousand years of fascinating, dynamic, and often tragic history.

From a hunting and gathering lifestyle to first contact with Europeans to land dispossession to claims cases, and much more, Wishart takes a wide-angle look at one of the most significant groups of people in the country. Myriad internal and external forces have profoundly shaped Indian lives on the Great Plains. Those forces--the environment, religion, tradition, guns, disease, government policy--have written their way into this history. Wishart spans the vastness of Indian time on the Great Plains, bringing the reader up to date on reservation conditions and rebounding populations in a sea of rural population decline.

Great Plains Indians is a compelling introduction to Indian life on the Great Plains from thirteen thousand years ago to the present.


On the census map showing the distribution of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States in 2010, the Great Plains stands out (fig. 1). the map locates those Americans who identified as being American Indian or Alaska Native alone in the 2010 census. If those who reported being American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with other races—an option in the census since 2000—are counted, then the total numbers would just about double, though the geographic concentrations would remain much the same. in the continental United States, only the Southwest matches the Great Plains as an Indian region, however measured.

The census map shows two distinct belts of Indians in the American Great Plains. On the northern Great Plains, the populations of many counties within, or around, reservations are more than 8 percent Indian. Many other counties nearby are 3 to 7.9 percent Indian. (By comparison, 0.9 percent of the population of the United States as a whole is Indian alone.)

1. American Indians in the contiguous United States as a percentage of
county population, 2010. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012. Created
by Ezra J. Zeitler.

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