Mari Sandoz, frontier life, Plains Indians, westward expansion
Jules Ami Sandoz came to America in 1881 at the age of 22. Following a three-year sojourn in northeastern Nebraska, he headed further west, settling in the recently surveyed region northwest of the Nebraska Sandhills. In Old Jules, the biography of her pioneer father, Mari Sandoz presented a character filled with conflicts and contradictions. Pitted against Jules's dynamic vision of community growth was his self-centered and destructive nature. Well aware of the more unsavory qualities exhibited by her father. Sandoz nonetheless maintained that he and others like him were necessary to the development of the West. This recognition did not preclude Sandoz from deploring the cultural devastation suffered by the Native Americans in the face of westward expansion. She saw the destruction of the Plains Indians' way of life as an irrevocable loss not only for the Native Americans but for the immigrant populations as well. Through her candid depiction of Jules's personality and his complex relations with the inhabitants of the Niobrara region of Nebraska in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Sandoz effectively conveyed her theory of the varied and paradoxical forces which shaped the history of the Great Plains.
Heritage of the Great Plains
Center for Great Plains Studies
Copyright © 1997 the Center for Great Plains Studies
Lindell, Lisa, "Conquering a Wilderness: Destruction and Development on the Great Plains in Mari Sandoz's Old Jules" (1997). Hilton M. Briggs Library Faculty Publications. 26.