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With his unique blend of intrepidity, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey of more than 25,000 miles up and down and across the vast and myth-inspiring Great Plains. A travelogue, a work of scholarship, and a western adventure, Great Plains takes us from the site of Sitting Bull's cabin, to an abandoned house once terrorized by Bonnie and Clyde, to the scene of the murders chronicled in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It is an expedition that reveals the heart of the American West.
back and forth like feelers. At Colstrip, Rock Springs, Stanton, and other places, on-site power plants, also called mine-mouth plants, turn the coal into electricity. In Stanton, the strip mine and power plant are within sight of the location of a Mandan village which was emptied by the smallpox epidemic of 1837. That 95-acre expanse is now a National Historic Site, with posted signs saying “Digging Prohibited by Law.” Railroad tracks lead away from all the strip mines. From the mine-mouth
yearling herd and its cloud of dust into the corral. Later two cattle trucks came, and the drivers put coveralls over their regular clothes and hazed the yearlings into the trucks. The drivers poked with cattle prods and shouted, “On the bus! Git on the bus!” Then all the yearlings, including the whiteface who almost got away, were taken to Torrington, Wyoming, and sold at auction to a feedlot for 65 cents a pound. Another morning, stopping the truck occasionally for me to get out and open fence
person yawned and never stopped!” Eventually, over several summers, I drove maybe 25,000 miles on the plains—from Montana to Texas and back twice, as well as many shorter distances. I went to every Great Plains state, dozens of museums, scores of historic sites, numerous cafes. When I couldn’t travel, I borrowed books about the plains from the Kalispell Public Library—Curse Not His Curls, by Robert J. Ege (a ringing defense of General Custer), and Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson. I
who said she was the manager of a supermarket. We discussed her store’s check-cashing policies. The crowd was more black than white; in front of me, a white rancher with a creased neck and a straw Stetson hitched up his jeans and sat on his heels. In the center of the floor, a seven-year-old girl and a twelve-year-old girl began a dance that looked impromptu. “What I want to see is some of this here break dancing,” the rancher said to a girl beside him. Next came a fashion show of ladies’ hats
the only Indian I ever knew who did that often. He wanted to be sure he hit what he aimed at. That is the kind of fighter he was. He didn’t like to start a battle unless he had it all planned out in his head and knew he was going to win.” Another important source of information about Crazy Horse is the so-called Ricker Tablets—a collection of lined school-exercise tablets containing interviews done by Judge Eli S. Ricker in the early 1900s with old plainsmen (and women) who remembered the