Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 16:3 (Summer 1996). Copyright © 1996 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Being asked to review a book from a Native American perspective raises a basic question about the peer review process for academic journals. What constitutes historical objectivity in the review? Will a review identified as representing a particular perspective be received in the same way as a review by a historian who writes about American history?

Given that very few Indian voices are recorded in the journals that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark kept during their epic western explorations, and that Ambrose can record only snatches of their thoughts, we cannot recover fully the many different ways that people of western tribes viewed the exploring party. The reviewer is forced to take a presentist stance to evaluate whether an author who is relying on accounts of encounters with Indians written almost two hundred years ago is treating the subject of American Indian cultures fairly and accurately.