So. I landed a job teaching humanities (an amalgamation of language arts and social studies). As a big project, I want my 11th graders to read a work of historical fiction, do research on primary sources the author may have used to create the work, and then create a portfolio about the novel to present as a final exam project. My request: I need the titles of FICTION books (novels) about the American West to coincide with a unit on Westward Expansion, Indian Removal, and Manifest Destiny.

Already on the list: Death Comes for the Archbishop, Crazy Woman, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven.

Now I need some suggestions: What about Buffalo Soldiers, Blacks on the American Frontier, and Mexican and Spanish settlement of the West. AND. . .It needs to be fiction.

Lay it on me.

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Not Buffalo Soldiers, African American, Mexican or Spanish related, but what about Jack Schaefer's Shane?
Lonesome Dove. Only the greatest western novel ever written in the history of the world.... or anything by Louis Lamour... or you could go old school with some James Cooper novels and also The Big Sky by I can't remember who made me want to be a mountain man...
The Milagro Beanfield War is one of my favorites. It's a little modern, but the story reflects land stealing, northern new mexico culture, mystery, and a mix of hispanic and anglo funny legends and stories. I still laugh everytime I read it.
I would love to take this class, it looks like so much fun! (Hoping you will be teaching at my 11th grade daughter's school so I can take it vicariously...)

How about some Wallace Stegner? Angle of Repose is beautifully written (1972 Pulitzer Prize winner) and based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote, later published as A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West. There is even some ethical controversy, since Stegner quotes liberally from these letters (that should be nice if you want to add in a discussion on ownership, crediting your sources, etc.) Plus there are threads of feminism and disability (the main character is the novel is a historian who uses a wheelchair) in case you are looking for ways to connect to some contemporary themes. Also, Big Rock Candy Mountain could fit with the westward expansion.

I used to work in a CA History Room teachers brought their classes in after reading Ramona and Hill of the Hawk by Scott O'Dell (I think this was his first novel - about an American soldier who enters CA and discovers the Mexican viewpoint via falling in love with an heiress to a Spanish land grant. It has been ages since I read this, but I remember most the descriptions of Anglo/Hispanic culture clashes. (I did read this while in high school in CA, so please take my suggestion with a shaker of salt!) O'Dell was known for doing quite a bit of historic research for his novels back in the day.

Tom Lea's The Wonderful Country has both a section with Buffalo soldiers and a Mexican/Spanish theme. Plus, in addition to being a writer he was also a WPA painter during the Depression and some of the murals he worked on are here in NM.

I'll keep thinking about this...
Some other possibilities:

Conrad Richter's The Light in the Forest (pre-Indian Removal Act) Even if this book isn't what you are looking for the Random House Academic Resources link where it is housed might be helpful.

I have not read this book, but my college age son highly recommends it: Rescue at Pine Ridge
I love Lonesome Dove. I love that book! Angle of Repose. . .I have not yet read that book. I will put it on the list and do a speed read of it.

Jeff, I have not read Ramona yet. What is it about?

Keep those recommendations coming! Think: teenager, high interest content, and the fact that I am using Zinn's People's History as my textbook (yeah, yeah, yeah, keep yer freakin' pants on).
OK, now I REALLY want to take this class! You need a TA? :)
The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie -- mountain manly stuff.
Or... Little Big Man by Thomas Berger
What about Leslie Silko?


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