Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

The Other American Revolution: The Rise of Horse Cultures in the American West and the Transformation of Native America

Elliott West (Alumni Distinguished Professor of History, University of Arkansas)

April 9, 2020

When Europeans first arrived in the new world, their horses were coming home. Horses had evolved on the American Great Plains, but as they migrated into Siberia and spread across much of the old world, they became extinct in their American cradle until, ten thousand years later, the Spanish returned them to their birthplace. Now, however, horses were in intimate partnership with humans, part of one of many horse cultures that had appeared from Spain to China. As Native peoples of the American West acquired the horse, they quickly reshaped their lives. They could travel faster and farther, hunt more vigorously, trade more productively, and wage war more lethally. There followed a dizzying movement of peoples and the rise of powerful empires, one the size of western Europe. It was an American revolution as sweeping and consequential as the one simultaneously creating a new nation to the east. This webinar will follow its story, including its tragic end, and will consider its largely unappreciated place in the history of the United States and North America.

History / Animals / Agriculture / American Westward Expansion / American History /