2024 Great Plains conference will examine regional myths

· 2 min read

2024 Great Plains conference will examine regional myths

A neon sign of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco

The Center for Great Plains Studies will host its 49th annual conference focused on regional issues April 2-3 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

From tall tales, legends and lore to the true history and current issues of the region, Confronting the Legendary Great Plains will examine the mythical storylines of the Great Plains. Stories matter, and the stories told about the region in its past and present continue to impact and shape it today and into the future.

The event will address questions including: Who is included in these stories, and who is left out? Who do the region’s monuments honor? What are the forgotten and hidden stories of the plants, animals and landscapes of the region? How does one challenge the myths related to pioneers, cowboys and Indigenous peoples of the Plains?

The interdisciplinary conference will explore and confront these questions and more through the lenses of history, education, media, literature, comics, landscapes, museums, art and historic memorials.

The general public — including scholars, students, business owners, community leaders and lifelong learners — is invited. The event features a combination of keynote presentations, workshops, tours and a Great Plains dinner experience.

Presentation information, a schedule and tickets are available here.

Featured speakers include:

  • Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche), speaking on the story of the Great Plains over time
  • Kristin Lee Hoganson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, speaking about the myth of a fly-over heartland
  • Margaret Huettl (Anishinaabe), University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, speaking on her work helping develop the new Oregon Trail video game
  • Rebecca Clarren, speaking on her book “The Cost of Free Land”

The conference is supported by the Mellon Foundation and the university’s Willa Cather Archive, College of Architecture and UNL Libraries. This year’s conference is part of the center’s project “Walking in the Footsteps of Our Ancestors: Re-Indigenizing Southeast Nebraska,” funded by the Mellon Foundation.

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