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Native American Perspectives
The story of the West combines a geographic region and an historical process
that are both central to American identity. The beautiful, harsh landscapes
of the region-vast grasslands, towering mountains, stark deserts-present
wilderness at its most impressive and have been a potent influence on the
American imagination. The process of the exploration and settlement of an
ever-receding frontier has been one of the most influential factors in shaping
American society and culture. The goal of The
American West is to present text and visuals that strikingly
portray both the region and the process.
The story of the West also involves a varied cast of vivid characters-Indians,
explorers, trappers, settlers, miners, ranchers, farmers, loggers, railroad
workers. In the past, however, the roles of women and minority groups in
the story of the West have too frequently been ignored or distorted. The
American West will try to present a more balanced, inclusive
account of the story.
In keeping with contemporary concerns about the environment, there is a
section in the text dealing with the significance of the wilderness and
the importance of its preservation. Finally, to help students appreciate
how cultural perspectives on the past shift over time, there is a section
presenting varied interpretations the West by historians and artists over
the past century.