Anton Treuer’s “Warrior Nation” wins Denver Public Library History Prize

Anton Treuer

Published December 19, 2016

DENVER – “Warrior Nation: A History of the Red Lake Ojibwe,” written by Bemidji State University Professor of Ojibwe Dr. Anton Treuer, has won the Denver Public Library’s Caroline Bancroft History Prize.

The Caroline Bancroft Prize annually by the library’s Western History and Genealogy Department. According to the terms of the late Caroline Bancroft’s will, an annual prize “to be awarded to the author of the best book on Colorado or Western American History published during the current year, to be known as the Caroline Bancroft History Prize.”

“Warrior Nation” explores 250 years of the unique and important history of the Red Lake Nation. It offers not only a chronicle of the Red Lake Nation, but also a compelling perspective on a difficult piece of U.S. history.

Treuer conducted oral histories with elders across the Red Lake reservation, learning the stories carried by the people. For the book, the Red Lake band for the first time made available its archival collections, including the personal papers of Peter Graves, a political strategist and tribal leader for the first half of the 20th century, which tell a story about the negotiations over reservation boundaries.

“Most of what Americans hear about native stories are stories from before 1900, and stories of loss with tragic endings,” Treuer said. “We get a snippet of Christopher Columbus or Thanksgiving or the ‘last of the blank,’ whatever tribe we happen to be talking about, and when you look at Red Lake – here they are, in spite of 500 years, with a living language and a progressive and strong tribal government with dynamic leaders.”

“Red Lake has been quite dynamic and realizing you cannot go backward in time,” Treuer said. “There’s only a way forward, and they’ve been finding the ways. The Red Lake story is fascinating and important in its own right.”

The contest defines”Colorado or Western American History” as being geographically inclusive of the trans-Mississippi West, from prehistoric times to the present. This includes all states west of the Mississippi River, Alaska, Hawaii and the Canadian and Mexican borderlands.

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