In this second volume of interviews conducted by Nebraska judge Eli S. Ricker, he focuses on white eyewitnesses and participants in the occupying and settling of the American West in the nineteenth century. In the first decade of the twentieth century, as the Old West became increasingly distant and romanticized in popular consciousness, Eli S. Ricker (1842-1926) began interviewing those who had experienced it firsthand, hoping to write a multivolume series about its last days, centering on the conflicts between Natives and outsiders. For years Ricker traveled across the rthern Plains, gathering information on and off reservations, in winter and in summer. Judge Ricker never wrote his book, but his interviews are priceless sources of information about that time and place, and they offer more balanced perspectives on events than were accepted at the time. Richard E. Jensen brings together all of Ricker's interviews with those men and women who came to the American West from elsewhere-settlers, homesteaders, and veterans. These interviews shed light on such key events as the massacre at Wounded Knee, the Little Bighorn battle, Beecher Island, Lightning Creek, the Mormon cow incident, and the Washita massacre. Also of interest are glimpses of everyday life at different agencies, including Pine Ridge, Yellow Medicine, and Fort Sill School; brief though revealing memoirs; and snapshots of cattle drives, conflicts with Natives, and the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad.
Richard E. Jensen is retired from the Nebraska State Historical Society, where he was senior research anthropologist. His most recent books are The Pawnee Mission Letters, 1834-1851 and Eyewitness at Wounded Knee, both available from the University of Nebraska Press.