Thursday, 23 August 2012

Historian Examines Animals' Role in Westward Expansion

ScienceDaily (Aug. 21, 2012) — The story of westward expansion in the United States is often told from the perspective of the men and women who crossed the Great Plains in search of a better life in the west. But a historian at Missouri University of Science and Technology is bringing to light the role settlers' animals played in the westward migration of the mid-1800s.

Dr. Diana L. Ahmad, an associate professor of history at Missouri S&T, discusses the relationship between pioneers and their stock -- mainly oxen, mules, horses and cattle -- in an essay published in the summer 2012 issue of the Great Plains Quarterly. She notes that the westward travelers' success depended greatly on their interactions with the animals.

"Domestic animals successfully brought thousands of emigrants to Utah, California, and Oregon," Ahmad writes in her essay, "'I Fear the Consequences to Our Animals': Emigrants and Their Livestock on the Overland Trails." As a result, "emigrants on overland trails forged new relationships with the domestic animals that accompanied them."


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