A University of Montana history professor will discuss “Empires of the Sun: Big History and the High Plains” during the kickoff lecture at at the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society’s annual conference at Chadron State College Sept. 26 and 27.
Dan Louie Flores will deliver the fourth Pilster Great Plains Lecture Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall at CSC. The presentation is free and open to the public.
Flores is the A.B. Hammond Chair in Western History at the University of Montana in Missoula. He specializes in cultural and environmental studies of the American West and has received an array of awards for articles and books about the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains.
Flores was born and raised and received much of his education in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where his family had lived for nearly 300 years. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern State University Natchitoches, holds a doctorate from Texas A&M University, taught at Texas Tech University at Lubbock and has been at the University of Montana for 20 years. He also has a home in the Galisteo River Valley outside Santa Fe, N. M.
Flores has written three books about the Southern Plains, one of which, Caprock Canyonlands, has been in print continuously since 1990. Now a resident of the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, he has written three more books about his new geographic region. His latest book is Visions of the Big Sky: Painting and Photography in the Northern Rocky Mountain West. (2010).
Flores is working on three more books, including: Bringing Home all the Pretty Horses: The Horse Trade and the American West; The Sacred Circle: Indians and Buffalo in North America’s History, and Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History.
Flores notes that he has a long association with the works of Mari Sandoz. “When you grow up fascinated by open, horizontal yellow spaces, you discover Mari Sandoz early on. Cheyenne Autumn was my introduction to Sandoz and I read it while I was still in Louisiana. The same was true of her book on the buffalo hide hunters,” he said.
“Old Jules I didn’t read ‘til graduate school. At some point along the way I also was captivated enough by The Horsecatcher that I still use that book in the Indians/Bison/Horses course I have long taught at the University of Montana. In other words, I’ve been living with Mari Sandoz books within reach on my bookshelves for the better part of 40 years,” Flores said.
The Pilster lecture series is funded from an endowment created from the sale of Dawes County ranchland that Esther Pilster donated to the Sandoz Society in 2006.
The conference, titled ‘Drought in the Great Plains and Sandoz Country,’ begins Friday, Sept. 27, at the Sandoz Center. Topics for breakout sessions include: Setting the Water Table; Women and Drought; Indigenous Approaches to Drought and the Environment and Ranching and Forestry on the Plains. Registration is available on the society website at www.marisandoz.org.