Photo and story by Daniel Shaw-Remeta / Contributing Writer
Award-winning author and historian Anne Hyde presented a lecture in the Business and Aerospace Building at Middle Tennessee State University Tuesday evening. Students and faculty gathered to listen to Hyde discuss the historical reality of the treatment and lives of “half-breed” Native Americans during the 19th century.
“This is a wonderful chance for me to talk about this new project I’ve been working on with a different audience and get to know some new people,” Hyde said. “So, I’m very excited to be here.”
Hyde has been studying the history of the North American West and specializes in the 19th century, particularly in race and family history. She was a professor at Colorado College for 20 years and is now a professor at the University of Oklahoma. Hyde is also the editor-in-chief of the Western Historical Quarterly, which is the official journal of the Western History Society. She is the author of “Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West,” which won the 2012 Bancroft Prize in history and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2012. She has written several other history books as well.
The event was a part of the Strickland Scholar Program, which holds an event on campus once each semester. Created from the Roscoe L. Strickland Jr. Endowment, the program gives students the opportunity to meet scholars with diverse historical backgrounds and allows visiting scholars to present their own research and areas of expertise to the MTSU community.
Ashley Riley Sousa, an assistant professor of history and member of the Strickland Scholar Committee, has been one of the key organizers in selecting which scholars speak at the university for the past two semesters. After reading Hyde’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated book and assigning it to her History of the American West class, Souza knew she wanted to ask Hyde to speak at MTSU.
“When we started thinking ahead about who we might invite to come speak on campus, I immediately thought of Dr. Hyde,” she said. “Because, I thought that if she can speak about her research half as well as she writes about it, then it’s going to be an amazing lecture.”
The historical lecture lasted about an hour and followed the lives of half-European, half-Native American families in North America, where their children embraced both heritages. Hyde discussed how these multicultural groups impacted the fur trade and how American settlers and American natives treated them.
“These are people who are sort of failed white people, or they can be leaders of (American) Indian people that teach them how to be participants of the white world,” Hyde said.
After the lecture, students were encouraged to ask Hyde questions about her career and presentation. Hyde also participated in a book signing after her lecture concluded.
“Lectures like this are so interesting because it’s like getting to see one small string that makes up an entire tapestry of American history,” said Michele Durante, a sophomore and organizational leadership major. “Every person’s life, history and point of view will always be a part of that tapestry.”
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