Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2004


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 14, No. 2, 2004. Copyright © 2004 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Americanizing the West is an eloquently written account of Progressive reformers' concerted efforts to Americanize immigrants and ethnics in the American West, with a specific focus on the Mountain and Southwest regions, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Americanization in the West was not a simple replica of similar efforts in the American East. In the West, Americanizers encountered a unique multicultural environment and the presence of ethnic groups who resided there well before the arrival of the first "Anglos" in the region. Euro-American pioneers pouring into the area during the second half of the nineteenth century increasingly interpreted the West as a "racial frontier" on which they attempted to create white dominance and supremacy over all other "races." To this end, they created a myth that portrayed the West as a manifestly "white country," the product of white pioneering and white pioneers who defined themselves as such vis-a-vis the "ethnic other."