Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly WINTER 1988. Copyright 1988 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska—Lincoln.


John Gregory Bourke (1846-1896) is best known to students of the American West as the author of On the Border with Crook, a classic record of frontier military life. He was also, like certain other army officers, among the pioneers of American anthropology. Like his commanding officer, General George Crook, he was a critic of federal Indian policy and an advocate of the rights of American Indians. His biography is, therefore, much more than the record of a frontier soldier. He is worthy of study as a chronicler of Western campaigns, a dedicated scholar of Indian culture, and a man whose life casts light on Indian-white relations.