Elliott West, an award-winning author and Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas, gave a public talk at the University of Colorado at Boulder on February 20, 2006.

West spoke about the reaction to his best-known book, The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado. The 1988 book won numerous awards including the Francis Parkman Prize for the year’s outstanding book on American history.

The Contested Plains tells how the rise of American Indian horse culture and the discovery and pursuit of gold in the Rocky Mountains led to dramatic changes and conflicts.

“The book raises important questions about the causes of the near-extermination of the bison and, perhaps most importantly, Elliott West’s work reminds us how much had already changed in the plains before the arrival of Anglo-Americans in significant numbers,” said Professor Patricia Limerick, Faculty Director of the Center of the American West. “Thus, even though it is about the comparatively distant past, The Contested Plains stirs up strong feelings among Westerners today.”

West, who earned his doctorate at CU-Boulder, teaches and writes on the history of the American West and on American environmental history. He is the author of five books and has twice received the University of Arkansas’ award for teacher of the year. He is a past president of the Western History Association.

West’s appearance is part of a series of events celebrating the Center of the American West’s 20th anniversary this year. West’s books were available for sale and signing at the event.