Cover image for One vast winter count : the Native American West before Lewis and Clark
One vast winter count : the Native American West before Lewis and Clark
Calloway, Colin G. (Colin Gordon), 1953-
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xvii, 631 pages : illustrations, map ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E78.W5 C35 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This magnificent, sweeping work traces the histories of the Native peoples of the American West from their arrival thousands of years ago to the early years of the nineteenth century. Emphasizing conflict and change, One Vast Winter Count offers a new look at the early history of the region by blending ethnohistory, colonial history, and frontier history. Drawing on a wide range of oral and archival sources from across the West, Colin G. Calloway offers an unparalleled glimpse at the lives of generations of Native peoples in a western land soon to be overrun.

Author Notes

Colin G. Calloway is the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies, professor of history, and chair of the Native American studies program at Dartmouth College. He is the coeditor of Germans and Indians: Fantasies, Projections, Encounters (Nebraska 2002) and the author of many works, including New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Many bands of Native Americans recorded their histories on the hides of buffalo or other game animals; they were called "winter counts." That is the source of the title of this enthralling and brilliant survey of the history and culture of various Native American groups from trans-Appalachia to the Pacific. Calloway is chair of the Native American Studies program at Dartmouth College; he was selected to write the opening volume in a projected six-volume history of the American West. This is revisionist history; like other "new western" historians, Calloway focuses on place rather than process. That is, he views the West as a series of regions in which various peoples entered, stayed, left, but always changed the land and were changed by it. He masterfully integrates the disciplines of archaeology, anthropology, environmental science, and history to provide a wonderful panorama illustrating both the diversity and the vibrancy of these rich cultures. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Author of First Peoples and a distinguished Dartmouth historian, Calloway concentrates on the Indian experience from the Appalachians to the Pacific, in a time frame from prehistory to the 18th century. The scope is staggering, but Calloway masters it, demonstrating a remarkable command of a broad spectrum of historical, ethnographic and archeological sources including printed material and oral traditions. Conventional American history moves from east to west. Calloway's narrative tends instead to follow a south-north pattern, with cultural innovations like corn and horses diffusing from Mesoamerica along the river-centered trade routes. Conventional histories of Indian-European relations place them at the center of the Native American experience in what became the United States. Calloway demonstrates that until the mid-18th century, the European impact was secondary and indirect on most of the cultures involved. Conventional myths assert the relative peacefulness of Native American interaction. Calloway shows that conflict was also a norm. Conventional wisdom presents Indian cultures as static, living in a timeless harmony with their environment. Calloway establishes that they were in fact constantly changing, adapting to climatic changes, animal migrations, ecological and technological innovations and, not least, the movements, peaceful and hostile, of other cultures. Indian response to European penetration was correspondingly flexible, ranging from partial accommodation to resistance, then rebellion, as European governments sought to move from asserting influence to exercising control. And Native Americans sustained that agency until the "Killing Years," the period from 1770 to the century's turn, when the impact of the American Revolution extended from the Appalachian Mountains to the Pacific Coast, and a smallpox pandemic unpredictably turned the Native American West into a graveyard. It was that last episode, mocking theories of historical determinism, that set the stage for the Lewis and Clark expedition to encounter shocked survivors and suddenly empty lands that seemed to invite European occupation. One Vast Winter Count is both a major work in its own right and a magnificent first volume in Nebraska's new History of the American West series. History Book Club, Military Book Club and Reader's Subscription Book Club selections. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Calloway (history, Dartmouth) draws on tribal histories, anthropology, and archaeology, as well as traditional historical sources, to present this useful and insightful overview of vibrant nations actively charting their futures in the time of great change and tremendous challenge before Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery set forth in 1803. In addition to corn agriculture and its impact upon prehistoric populations, the author discusses the later historic shift from bow and arrow to firearms, the incorporation of horses into Plains Indian life, and the increased acquisition of European trade goods and culture. Colonial European powers and their interaction with Native populations, including the Spanish colonies in the Pueblos and California and the French and British rivalry, are explored in depth, though throughout the Native nations remain the primary focus. Calloway's balanced treatment of a topic so easily given to polemics is welcome indeed. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.-Nathan E. Bender, Buffalo Bill Historical Ctr., Cody, WY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Featuring more than 400 pages of text and 200 pages of endnotes, bibliography, and index, this massive work is not only commanding in size, but also in breadth of coverage--the American West before Lewis and Clark's 1803 expedition. Calloway's West begins with Lewis and Clark's West--the Appalachian Mountains, not the 100th meridian, not the Rio Grande, not the Rocky Mountains. Calloway's history begins not with the coming of Europeans, nor does it feature the now-obligatory coverage of "prehistoric" America of 40,000 years, give or take a few millennia, compressed into 30 pages. Perhaps historians of the West will come to realize that Native American history before the arrival of Europeans is as important as what happened after their arrival. Calloway (Dartmouth College) synthesizes the history of the West while maintaining all of its majesty and complexity. It is a shame, however, that the 15 maps were not more detailed, and that there are not more of them. This book is the first of a projected six-volume history of the West, and readers can only hope that Calloway's accomplishments here will be replicated in subsequent volumes. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All public and academic libraries. L. Graves South Plains College

Table of Contents

Series Editor's Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
A Note on Terminologyp. xvii
Prologue: Land and History in the American Westp. 1
Chapter 1 Pioneersp. 25
Chapter 2 Singing Up a New Worldp. 67
Chapter 3 Sons of the Sun and People of the Earthp. 119
Chapter 4 Rebellions and Reconquestsp. 165
Chapter 5 Calumet and Fleur-De-Lysp. 213
Chapter 6 The Coming of the Centaursp. 267
Chapter 7 People in Between and People on the Edgep. 313
Chapter 8 The Killing Yearsp. 367
Epilogue: The Slave in the Chariotp. 427
Notesp. 435
Selected Bibliographyp. 569
Indexp. 597