A Tour on the Prairies: An Account of Thirty Days in Deep Indian Country
In 1832, Washington Irving, America's first literary superstar,returned to the United States after seventeen years abroad andswiftly set out to explore Pawnee country—the wild unchartedterritory deep in the young nation's interior. It was a part of thecountry few white men had set foot in and even fewer had writtenabout it—and certainly none as famous as Irving.Owing to a chance encounter on a steamboat with the newlyappointed Indian Commissioner, and embracing an opportunity tosilence critics who had begun to doubt his patriotism (after somuch time abroad), Irving finds himself sleeping under the stars,traversing hostile plains, and venturing blindly into the unknown.He discovers a certain kind of tranquility in the open air andrelishes the traditions and culture of the Pawnee. Irving kept adaily account of his excursion into what is now Oklahoma, and uponhis return home, spun this fabulously entertaining andgroundbreaking work. With unparalleled descriptions of the naturalterrain—a land of giant flowing rivers and endless goldenplains—and vivid depictions of the lives in Native Americans, ATour on the Prairies stands as a classic portrait of what lifewas like out West before chronic warfare left the plains and thepopulation decimated. Irving's book became a huge success when itwas originally published and quickly silenced critics whoquestioned his affection for his homeland.