Jason Heppler, “'Self-sustaining and a good citizen': William F. Cody and the Progressive Wild West”

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William F. Cody.

The Lakota referred to themselves as oskate wicasa, or “one who performs.” Hundreds worked for Buffalo Bill between 1883 and 1917. They traveled the world, earned good wages, and participated in cultural practices otherwise discouraged on reservations in America. Drawn primarily from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Indians worked for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in large numbers. Both behind the scenes and in the arena, a remarkable and consistent level of sympathy for Native culture allowed American Indians the opportunity to preserve cultural practices. Yet in its own ways, the Wild West promoted a vision of Progressive reform.


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Greetings! My name is Jason Heppler. I am a Digital Engagement Librarian and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a scholar of the twentieth-century United States. I often write here about the history of the North American West, technology, the environment, politics, culture, and coffee. You can follow me on Twitter, or learn more about me.

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