Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1981


Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 1, No. 2, Spring 1981, pp. 134-35.


Copyright 1981 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


The Center for the History of the American Indian at the Newberry Library is publishing a series of brief bibliographies, of which eighteen have now appeared. They cover topical aspects of Indian history-for example, demography, federal Indian policy, and missions-and particular tribes or groups of tribes. All the volumes follow a similar format. There is an alphabetical listing of roughly two hundred important works, with a shorter list of works suitable for a basic library collection. Writings recommended for beginners and for high school students are also marked. Preceding the full list is a historiographical essay of some thirty to fifty pages, which annotates the works listed. All the volumes carry the subtitle, "A Critical Bibliography."

Two of the bibliographies that pertain especially to the region of the Great Plains are those of Herbert T. Hoover on the Sioux and of William E. Unrau on the emigrant Indians of Kansas, tribes such as the Potawatomi, Shawnee, Miami, Delaware, Sac and Fox, and Kickapoo, which were moved into Kansas before the Civil War as part of the general movement of eastern Indians into the Trans-Mississippi West.

Hoover provides a short preface on Sioux history, but his essay is organized according to types of studies (general tribal histories, biographies of Indian leaders, accounts of battles and wars, and studies of Sioux culture) and observations by non-Indian groups (explorers, traders, missionaries, and captives). The 213 titles are a fair selection from the massive literature on the Sioux. Hoover's comments about the works, however, tend to be descriptive rather than critical. His essay is largely an annotated listing of the writings cited, arranged by topic, with little attempt to analyze historiographical schools or determine important themes in Sioux history.

Unrau approaches his task, within the constraints of the format, somewhat differently. His essay is a brief history of the emigrant tribes in Kansas, used as a vehicle for noting the significant works dealing with that subject (he lists 187 titles). His divisions are these: changing federal Indian policy, removal of the Indians to Kansas, conflict between land and Indian policies of the federal government, tribal leadership and factionalism, the role of the missionaries, and the impact of malnutrition, disease, and alcohol. He ends with a brief discussion of the expulsion of the Indians from Kansas.

These two volumes, like the others in the series, are extremely valuable tools for sorting out the vast number of publications on Indians that have appeared over the years. They are selective, not exhaustive, bibliographies, but because they focus sharply on specific groups of Indians and are produced by historians who know their fields well, they are useful to scholars as well as to general readers.