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Cultural Heritage Center to Focus on Frontier Army
South Dakota Ag Connection - 11/07/2019

New tales of the Army of the Old West will be told at a Nov. 12 program at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

R. Eli Paul will discuss "The Frontier Army: Episodes from Dakota and the West" at 7 p.m. CST as part of the History and Heritage Book Club sponsored by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation and the South Dakota Historical Society Press.

Everyone is welcome to attend the free program.

"The book contains seven essays about the frontier Army in the Northern Plains, including the Black Hills, between 1854 and 1890. The essays show that there is much more to the story of the frontier Army than George Custer and the Little Bighorn," said foundation president Catherine Forsch. The foundation is the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

The book is the result of new research on the history of the American frontier Army, Paul said. He edited the book and contributed one of the essays, in which Col. William S. Harney's aide-de-camp describes an 1855 army attack on a Lakota village. Paul found the letter Lt. Marshall T. Polk had sent home to Tennessee in the collections of a Tennessee repository during an internet search.

Other essays in the book include letters from a captain in the Fourth United States Artillery that appeared in a San Francisco newspaper describing duty at Camp Robinson and in the Black Hills in 1876, soldiers as depicted in the western art of Frederic Remington, the Lakota perspective of the Wounded Knee Massacre, and memorials to African American (buffalo) soldiers.

The book also honors the lives and contributions of Thomas Buecker and John McDermott, two historians with close ties to South Dakota who were closely identified with the subject of the frontier Army, Paul said.

Paul will be speaking to the History and Heritage Book Club by telephone while a PowerPoint is shown. He will talk about the rich variety of topics the contributors encountered when researching and writing about the frontier Army.

Paul recently retired as head of the Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Mo. He has published extensively about Plains Indians, including collaborative efforts with Buecker and McDermott.

"The Frontier Army" was recently published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press. It is sold in the Heritage Stores at the Cultural Heritage Center and the Capitol.

People can join in the program from locations other than the Cultural Heritage Center. Arrangements to join the program need to be made at least two days in advance by calling 605-773-6006.

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