Symposium Session 17

Session 17: BBQ Dinner Keynote

Paul Hutton, Buffalo Bill and the Frontier Myth

William F. Cody was a man seemingly trapped in the distant past, yet one who cared desperately about the onrushing future –- for himself, his family, his business, and his country.  He was progressive in politics (he favored votes for women long before President Woodrow Wilson came around) and was, for his time and place, enlightened on questions of race and equality. He had risen from poverty to incredible wealth, was fawned over by kings and queens, presidents and captains of industry and in his time was the living symbol of “The American”.  President Theodore Roosevelt described his as “an American of Americans. He embodied those traits of courage, strength, and self-reliant hardihood which are vital to the well-being of the nation.” He was, like the nation he came to symbolize, a bundle of contradictions: a hunter who became a conservationist, a friend to Indians who was famed as an Indian fighter; a rugged frontier scout best remembered as a sequined showman; a living artifact of a pioneer past playing out his role in a world of telephones, motion pictures, automobiles, airplanes, skyscrapers, and world wars.

Paul Hutton is an American cultural historian, award-winning author, documentary writer, and television personality. He serves as Distinguished Professor of History at the University of New Mexico, has published widely in both scholarly and popular magazines, and is an award-winning author. He has written several short films for state and national parks, as well as a dozen television documentaries, and has appeared in more than 300 television programs. He has also been active as a public historian, guest curating major exhibits in several renowned institutions. His latest book, The Apache Wars, published by Crown in May 2016, received the 2017 Western Writers of America Spur Award for best nonfiction.