Dr. Jay H. Buckley to wrangle western history as new Charles Redd Center director

BYU History professor Dr. Jay H. Buckley has been selected as the new director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies. Buckley will serve in this position for a three-year term that begins September 1, 2018.

Buckley will be replacing current director Dr. Brian Cannon who has served as the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies director for 15 years. Cannon has “fundamentally shaped (the center’s) direction” according to Assistant Director Dr. Brenden Rensink. In addition to overseeing countless initiatives and programs, Cannon helped grow the Redd Center’s influence across multiple academic fields and with the general public. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences is deeply appreciative of Cannon’s many years of dedicated service and is excited to have him continue teaching full-time in the history department.

Buckley is an associate professor in the history department and the director of the American Indian Studies academic minor. Buckley’s research and publication interests include the American West, exploration, fur trade, and American Indians. He is the author of the award-winning William Clark: Indian Diplomat, and co-author of six other books. Buckley has served on the Redd Center Board of Directors since 2011. He has received multiple Redd Center research grants, worked extensively with students on the Intermountain Histories public history project, and received the Mollie & Karl G. Butler Young Scholar Award in Western Studies. He is also the past President of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.

Image result for byu redd centerThe Charles Redd Center for Western Studies was founded in 1972 by Charley and Annaley Naegle Redd. It promotes the study of the Intermountain West (defined as the states of Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona) through its sponsorship of research, publication, teaching and public programs. The Redd Center is an interdisciplinary center in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and the College of Humanities.

For more information on the Redd Center and its events, visit reddcenter.byu.edu.

How did an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Become Famous Indians?

real native genius Picture this: A white Mormon and an ex-slave marry and then travel around the country pretending to be Native Americans. That sounds like something out of a dime novel or a Hollywood film, right? In truth, it actually happened! During the 1840’s Lucy Stanton and Warner McCary earned a living by masquerading as Native Americans. On February 27, Dr. Angela Pulley Hudson will be coming to BYU to discuss the fascinating tale of this couple. The event will be held at 7 p.m. in the Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium.

“It is an important glance into the fluidity of racial identity at the time, how people ‘passed’ for one race or another, and early moments of monetized appropriation of Native culture and religion by non-Natives,” said Dr. Brenden Rensink, director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies.

Dr. Hudson will be discussing her book Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians. In it, not only does she explore the lives of McCary and Stanton, she also examines Americans’ perceptions of Indians and how that impacted antebellum culture.

Stanton and McCary

Who were Stanton and McCary? The latter was an ex-slave who provided for himself by performing music—whistling and playing the flute and fife. Stanton was a divorced Mormon who was captivated by the LDS doctrine regarding the Lamanites or Indians. Eventually, the two met, married, and began calling themselves Okah Tubbee (McCary) and Laah Ceil (Stanton.)

“Before and during their marriage they shared a particular history of performing as Indians in a variety of contexts: from Mormon meeting houses to packed concert halls, temperance rallies to doctors’ offices. Their story ranges across the nineteenth century from the deep South through the Great Lakes region, to the Midwestern frontier, across the northern border with Canada, and into the Mountain West. Along the way, they entertained Americans from many backgrounds, penetrated the inner circle of the nascent Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and fled all sorts of legal jeopardy” said Dr. Hudson.

Impact

“In contemplating the Indian character, there is an interest thrown around it, which cannot fail to impress the mind of every inquiring person, although the Indian race is fading away…there is a charm thrown around their past history, and the most lively emotions are created in the mind of the Patriot and Philanthropist in contemplating their past and present history, and are led to look upon the high and lofty bearing of the red man, with the most intense admiration,” said Rev. L. L. Allen in his book about Okah Tubbee.

During the time of McCary and Stanton, the concept of Indianness was constantly in flux, and the two played a role in it. “They were not simply impersonating Native people—they were helping to shape the popular cultural phenomenon of Indianness,” said Dr. Hudson.

Dr. Hudson

Texas A&M University provided the following biography of Dr. Hudson: Angela Pulley Hudson joined the history faculty in 2007 after receiving her PhD in American Studies from Yale University. She specializes in American Indian history, the 19th-century U.S. South, the representation of American Indians in popular culture, and the intersection of American Indian and African American lives. She has held fellowships from the Newberry Library, the American Philosophical Society, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, among others.

 

 

The Total Solar Eclipse of 1878: Lighting the Path for Science in America

david baron
Courtesy of american-eclipse.com

How do you get 100 history and astronomy students in the same room on a Thursday afternoon? You give them a lecture by awarded journalist David Baron on “Edison and the Eclipse that Enlightened America.” Baron, a science and environmental journalist and recent Charles Redd Center guest lecturer, saw an eclipse in Aruba in 1998 and has since dedicated his time and research to exploring and experiencing these astronomical phenomena and telling the stories behind them.

Eclipse Chasing Now

While there was lots of commotion about the recent 2017 total solar eclipse, a total solar eclipse passes over earth’s surface every 18 months. The path of totality, when the sun is completely covered by the moon, is only 100 miles wide, making the viewing of a total eclipse a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many individuals. In the day and age of cars and airplanes, eclipse chasing is relatively easy with the internet, a pair of glasses from Amazon, and a car ride. In the late 1800’s, however, eclipse chasing was quite the ordeal, and it was primarily this that Baron discussed at the lecture.

Eclipse Chasing 1878

14760792356_1c969e822b_zThe year was 1878. Manifest Destiny was the United States’ call to action, the transcontinental railroad was moving people across the plains, and America was striving to carve out a unique spot in the landscape of worldwide scientific discovery. Solar eclipses were critical to physical and astronomical discoveries at the time, and Europeans were monopolizing these scientific experiences and discoveries. That is, until a total solar eclipse was forecast to cross the American West in 1878.

This was an opportunity for Americans to show that they could compete intellectually with the rest of the world. The government recruited scientists, astronomers, and everyday citizens alike to “crowd source” information on the sun and its corona. Everyone in the western United States would have less than three minutes to make the most important astronomical observations of their lifetime.

Notable Participants

Three individuals in particular stood out among the group of government-recruited scholars:

  1. James Craig Watson of the University of Michigan’s Detroit Observatory was one of the most recognized “planet hunters” of his age. He discovered a number of asteroids and sought to discover a new asteroid planet during the eclipse.
  2. Maria Mitchell was the most famous female scientist and astronomer of the 1800’s and was a teacher at Vassar College in New York when news of the eclipse rang out. Mitchell organized a group of women to go west to study the eclipse and show society that women can be smart, educated, healthy, and feminine to boot.
  3. 5565714066_b7cb709e97_z
    Courtesy of cea+

    Thomas Edison had just been dubbed the “Wizard of Menlo Park” for his invention of the phonograph and was anxious to test his new invention, the tasimeter, to detect changes of heat during the eclipse. This was Edison’s chance to prove that he was not only an inventor but a serious scientist as well.

Not to be Left in the Shadows

At the end of the three minutes of darkness and scientific enlightenment, according to Baron, Edison was inspired to look into light and power (a possible influence on his future invention of the light bulb), the tasimeter was claimed as a success, Mitchell successfully advocated female higher education, Watson claimed to find the asteroid planet Vulcan (which was later proved unreal, but would give Watson something to defend for the rest of his life), and the American public came together to make what newspapers called the “most important observations ever made.”

“Eclipses inevitably reveal much about ourselves,” said Baron in American Eclipse, a book he wrote about the 1878 eclipse. “What we see in them reflects our own longings and fears.” Baron’s descriptions of America’s reaction to the 1878 eclipse, in his book and his lecture here on campus, capture a nation longing for success. The book was published earlier this year with the support of the Charles Redd Center. During his research for the book, Baron was able to visit many of the sites connected to the 1878 eclipse and see the collections of drawings and observations of the eclipse that were collected from American citizens and are now housed in the Library of Congress.

Follow the Redd Center for more events concerning the history of the American West.

How have your eclipse experiences impacted your own life?

 

 

 

 

 

Speaker to Present on Utah’s Hidden Diversity

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation,” said activist Mahatma Gandhi. On December 7th, Dr. Pamela Perlich, Director of Demographic Research Director at the the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, will speak on the importance of recognizing and utilizing diversity in our communities at an event titled “Utah’s Hidden Diversity, Multicultural Demography.” “Good active citizens,” said Dr. Brenden Rensink, assistant director of the Redd Center, which is sponsoring the event, “need to be aware of who makes up their neighborhoods and communities, otherwise we can’t make progress towards serving and representing each other appropriately in civic life, politics, culture, etc.” The event will be held on December 7th at 11am in B192 JFSB.

Diversity

Utah is not known for its diversity. However, the state is more diverse than people realize, said Dr. Rensink. The purpose of the event is for citizens to “learn about multiculturalism, diversity, and demographics in Utah, and to come away with an understanding that Utah’s 21st century population is much more diverse than we realize.” He continues: “Utah, along with the rest of the nation, is in the midst of a remarkable demographic transition, becoming older and more ethnically diverse.  Utah County, projected to add one million residents over the next fifty years, will be especially impacted.”

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A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that 58% of Americans believe that diversity makes America “a better place to live.” However, in a different Pew study, the number of Americans viewing racism as a ”big problem” has increased 8 percentage points in the past two years to 58%, and roughly doubled since 2011. America seems to be a nation conflicted about the value of diversity versus the implementation of that value in daily actions.

Dr. Perlich

Dr. Perlich holds a doctorate in economics and has worked for the Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget and the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

 

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Will you be attending the event?

Photo of man with American flag courtesy of Luke Braswell on Unsplash.

David Baron on the Other Eclipse That Enlightened America

This past August wasn’t the first time the world raced to see a solar eclipse roll over the United States. In 1878, a total solar eclipse passed over the western half of the country, with an arguably larger effect. David Baron, a former NRP science correspondent who has spent five years studying that eclipse, says that, on July 29, 1878, many influential individuals and scientists, including Vassar College astronomer Maria Mitchel, an all-female expedition, and Thomas Edison, came to observe the astronomical wonder gained insight and inspiration from the eclipse that year. Mr. Baron will speak on this eclipse and its effects on October 26 at 11 am in the Education in Zion Auditorium (B192 JFSB).

rodion-kutsaev-48565“The eclipse of 1878 was really important because it came at a time when America was just trying to prove to the rest of the world that it was not just some industrial power but that it actually was an intellectual nation,” shared Baron in an NPR interview earlier this year. “This was our chance – an eclipse in our own backyard – to show what we could do in science.” Since that time, the United States has continued to show that it can accomplish many incredible scientific feats, starting with the invention of the Edison light bulb the year following the eclipse. 

charles reddDavid Baron is a former NPR science correspondent and the author of American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World. His last book, The Beast in the Garden, won the 2003 Colorado Book Award. This event will be hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and is free to the public.

 

Visiting Professor to Speak on the Federal Lands Debate

To compensate the western states for revenues lost to the federal government by its ownership of over 440 million acres In 2014, it paid $2.695 billion to the Far West’s eleven states, which included Utah. Yet, a century-long heated debate still rages about the federal government’s ownership of almost half of the land in those states. Scholars involved in Stanford University’s Follow the Money Spatial History project say: “some regard the spaces as sites for individual opportunity, others as resources to be conserved for wise use, still others as ecologies that must be preserved for aesthetic or recreational pleasure. Many westerners resent the vast federal presence…. Others view federal stewardship as a bulwark against rapaciousness.” Joseph Taylor, one of those scholars, will speak on this issue, at BYU on Thursday October 12th. In particular, he will speak on “mapping transfer payments and unlearning wisdom about the federal domain in the American West.” His lecture will take place from 11 a.m. to noon on the 12th in B192 JFSB.

Why is it Important to Understand This Issue?

Since the 1890’s, when the government began reserving land, western residents have voiced concerns regarding tax bases and development retraction. As these federal lands are tax exempt, state residents lose revenue. The in-lieu payments serve to supplement the local economies. “Few Americans are aware of these revenue-sharing programs, and fewer still understand why they exist,” says Dr. Taylor, of Simon Fraser University. “Almost no one knows their history and geography because they operate largely outside the consciousness of residents and politicians, yet the political economy of federal lands has always been a central concern of conservation policy.”

gov land
Courtesy of Follow the Money

 

The Debate

Some citizens are urging for the government to cede the land back to the states. According to Dr. Taylor and his colleagues, “These debates can seem irreconcilable because they are. One group imagines a neo-liberal world in which privatization and the market liberates the West from the shackles of imperious federal overlords; another group sees nature and the public interest imperiled by short-term greed. Both tend to eclipse important common ground across the West…The inimical visions of the debate’s dominant voices have something else in common as well: an inability to see how political economy has welded together federal, state, and local governments through a set of laws that distribute revenues to sustain the ecological and social services westerners rely on every day.”

The Event

charles redd Hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, the event aims to “increase public understanding and dialog about public lands issues in the modern West,” said the center’s director, Dr. Brenden Rensink. He adds: “There are essential elements of the current administration of public lands that are missing from current political debates about them.” 

The event will be held on Thursday, October 12 in B192 of the JFSB from 11-12.

Featured image by Andrew Maranta on Unsplash

Benjamin Madley to Lecture on an American Genocide

Genocide, according to the United Nations, is “…acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”  Benjamin Madley, an associate professor of history at UCLA, applies the term to describe the treatment of American Indians in mid-19th century California in his book, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe. In two weeks, Dr. Madley will lecture at an FHSS event to argue that California Indians didn’t fare much better than Armenians, Rwandans, or even European Jews during the Nazi regime.

You’re invited

  • Who: Dr. Benjamin Madley, hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies
  • What: A presentation on the American Genocide
  • When: Thursday, September 21st, from 11 a.m. to noon
  • Where: B192 JFSB (the Education in Zion auditorium)
  • Why: To discuss important historical events that often lack awareness and understanding
american-genocide
Courtesy of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies.

An American Genocide

An American Genocide, in which Dr. Madley estimates that 9,000 to 16,000 California Indians were killed from 1846 to 1873, has been reviewed by The New York Times, Newsweek, The Nation, and many others. Some of Dr. Madley’s fellow historians have criticized his book for applying the term “genocide” to the conflicts between Americans and California Indians. Gary Clayton Anderson, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma, challenges Dr. Madley’s death toll estimates and characterizes the California massacres as “ethnic cleansing.” The reasoning? Dr. Anderson argues that government policy never supported mass killings, so the genocide label might be inappropriate.

But An American Genocide details murders and massacres carried out by vigilantes, state militias, and the United States Army. Dr. Madley “methodically [gives] examples of each and [tags] the incidents like corpses in a morgue,” according to Richard White of The Nation. A seasoned historian, Dr. Madley also compiles many accounts of the incidents in nearly 200 pages of appendices. Every reader can weigh the evidence and conclude whether or not the incidents were genocidal.

Dr. Madley developed a passion for the interactions between indigenous groups and colonizers during his childhood; he was born in Redding, California, and lived in Karuk Country in northwestern California. Dr. Madley has earned degrees from Yale University and Oxford University, and he has authored many journal articles and book chapters.

bmadley
Courtesy of UCLA’s Department of History.

 

How do you think historians should apply the modern definition of “genocide” to historical events?

Intermountain Histories: a History of Us

On Sixth South in Provo, there is an old, old building that used to house the Startup candy company. Interestingly, today, it houses several small startup companies instead of the candy company. The story of the Startup building is one of many told on Intermountain Histories.org, a digital public history project that provides scholarly information and interpretive stories of historic sites and events around the Intermountain West regions of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The project is managed by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University. In collaboration with professors and students from universities across the Intermountain West, new content is created each semester in classroom settings. Those stories are then edited and revised by the Redd Center and published on the site for the public.

Using an interactive GPS-enabled map, you can take virtual or physical walking tours of historic sites. As your personal tour guide, Intermountain Histories provides historical information, photographs and images, documentary videos, audio interviews, oral histories, bibliographic citations, and other resources for you to explore. Though created in academic settings, the content is meant to be used by the general public.

The first batch of stories is small, created by a “guinea pig” group of professors and students. In the upcoming weeks, additional stories currently being edited will be published as well. Moving forward, new batches will periodically publish as collaborating professors, students, and interns at the Redd Center research, write, and edit new stories. Intermountain Histories is available for free in iTunes, Google Play, and online at IntermountainHistories.org. To receive notifications when new stories are published, follow the project on Facebook or Twitter.

“Though small at our current launch,” said Dr. Brenden Rensink, co-director, “this project will grow and fill the map with countless pins and stories.”

 

David Wrobel on John Steinbeck’s America and the West: The Redd Lecture

In his book The Grapes of Wrath, author John Steinbeck wrote that “the land is so much more than its analysis.” This is exactly what BYU’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies is trying to instill in people through the upcoming Annaley Naegle Redd Lecture titled “John Steinbeck’s America and the West.” Presented by Dr. David Wrobel of the University of Oklahoma, the event will be held in the HBLL Auditorium at 7 pm on March 23.

The Event

17103604_1282247045200046_1389641752798943929_nOf the lecture, Dr. Brenden Rensink, the assistant director of the Redd Center, said: “Steinbeck wrote a number of iconic books that unfold in the American West – most notably, The Grapes of Wrath. David Wrobel’s new work on Steinbeck tries to contextualize Steinbeck’s work in broader American culture, its impact, etc. It will be a great lecture that takes a key piece of Western American literature and weaves it into broader narratives of American cultural history.” He added that the intended audience is BYU faculty and students as well as the community at large. Rensink hopes people will leave the lecture with “a better understanding of author John Steinbeck, his relationship to the West, and his impact upon it.”

Steinbeck and Wrobel

John Steinbeck is the 1962 Nobel-Prize winning author of The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and Tortilla Flat, to name only a few. Said editor Horst Frenz of the Elsevier Publishing Company in 1969, his books dealt with the economic problems of rural labour; “there is also a streak of worship of the soil in his books.” It is this worship that makes Steinbeck the perfect topic for Wrobel to speak on at the Annaley Naegle Redd Lecture. The esteemed historian is the Merrick Chair of Western American History and David L. Boren Professor at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of three books and a plethora of essays and articles. Wrobel has participated in the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer Program and from 2007-2008 was the American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch’s president. He has also in that capacity for Phi Alpha Theta. The professor was the recipient OU’s College of Arts & Sciences’s 2015 Holden Award for Teaching Excellence.

charles-redd Annaley Naegle Redd

Annaley Naegle Redd was the wife of Charles Redd. Together, they founded the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at BYU. The college graduate became a teacher in La Sal, Utah, where she and her husband met and were married. Naegle was integral to his cattle business, serving as his partner, acting as secretary, store keeper, and cook, among other jobs. And, when their ranch was almost foreclosed on: “her ‘prairie fire’ beans helped save the ranch.” Naegle died in 2000. Besides the lecture, she has two awards in her name: the Annaley Naegle Redd Student Award in Women’s History and the Annaley Naegle Redd Assistantship Award (BYU Faculty Only).

Will you go to the Annaley Naegle Redd Memorial Lecture?

Benjamin Madley to Present on the American Genocide

We know that American Indians suffered greatly during the expansion of our country in the mid-1800’s. Author Benjamin Madley actually calls what happened to them “An American Genocide.” Fully aware of the dramatic label he gives their sufferings, he details them and their specific causes in his book by the same name, and will discuss it at an upcoming event on BYU campus. He does so, not necessarily for the purpose of being polemic, but so Americans can be more fully aware of their history even as they condemn other countries for similar crimes. 

american-genocide
Courtesy of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies

According to The Nation, Madley writes because “in a world of genocidal violence, claims of American innocence and exceptionalism are dangerous.” His book, which has been talked about in Newsweek, truthdig,  The LA Times, and his upcoming discussion will help those desiring to know more about our history as it relates to the American Indian, and what can be done to change things.

An American Genocide

“Accusations of genocide in California are hardly new,” says Richard White of The Nation. “Many historians, anthropologists, and Indian activists have made them, but An American Genocide stands apart for two reasons. First, Madley is interested not just in spectacular crimes, but also in their institutional basis. Second, he doesn’t use the term “genocide” for its shock value; instead, he considers the term carefully before applying it to state and federal policies.” At the lecture, we can expect an educated account of what truly happened in California in the mid-1800’s.

California Indians have pointed out that although the Holocaust and the Rwandan and Armenian Genocides are taught in schools, the massacre of their ancestors is not. Madley is seeking to rectify this: “He argues that what happened to California Indians was, according to the most widely accepted definition of genocide, not all that different from what happened to Jews, Armenians, or Rwandans.”

The Event

Dr. Madley is a professor of History at UCLA. Originally from Redding, California, he spent a fair amount of time in Karuk County. The Karuk are a Native American tribe based in Happy Camp, California. From them, Dr. Madley “became interested in the relationship between colonizers and indigenous peoples.”  In 2016, the researcher published his book An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873. It won the 2016 Heyday Books History Award. However, that is not all he’s written; he has authored papers as well as book reviews and chapters. Dr. Madley further studies genocide in other countries including Australia and Namibia.

redd
Courtesy of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies

This lecture is part of the annual “William Howard and Hazel Butler Peters Lecture” series. It will be hosted by FHSS’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies

Do you think learning from the past can help us change the future?