Arriving in my mailbox on the same day as the other volume, A Companion to Custer and the Little Bighorn Campaign contains a long essay, “A National Monument,” that I researched and wrote in collaboration with a former UNL graduate advisee Jason Heppler. This is another examination of history and memory in an important landscape in the American West similar to my earlier journal articles on sites in New Mexico and Arizona. In addition to using traditional research methods, Jason and I also employed Digital Humanities text analysis tools to investigate the topics and rhetoric contained in two of the three editions of the official interpretive handbook for the Little Bighorn battlefield National Monument site. I hope that students of the history of the United States, the American West, and History & Memory, along with those who are fascinated with the Native American experience and the mythic figure of George Armstrong Custer, will find this piece a welcome contribution to that voluminous historiography.
What began as an invited lecture to speak to the faculty of Brigham Young University’s Religious Studies Center in Omaha, NE along the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail in the summer of 2012 has just been published! As the lead essay in this collection of twelve pieces, I trace the cartographic ideas of the Far West around the time of the Mormon exodus from Illinois to Utah in the mid-nineteenth century. The essay examines the significant works of cartography featuring the American West created just after the Lewis and Clark expedition through the constitution of the State of Deseret in 1849. These are the depictions of the region that Church leadership used to establish the stake of Zion, the settlement of the Great Basin, the proposed State of Deseret, the creation of Utah Territory, and eventually the state of Utah. I am pleased to see it in print and hope that it is of use to those who study cartography, Mormon history, the American West, and United States history.