Laura Graves, professor of history and government at South Plains
College, has signed a contract with Prentice Hall as senior author
for the nation's first undergraduate American history textbook written
from an American Indian perspective.
is the world leader in publishing academic and reference textbooks.
The book is groundbreaking in many ways. It will be the first true
textbook for courses on Native American history, putting the Indian
perspective in the forefront. And the text will focus on ordinary
people, rather than traditional figures of political and economic
influence, allowing the John Does of this world to tell much of
the story in their own words.
book breaks tradition in another way. It is rare for a community
college professor, rather than a faculty member at a university,
to be asked to head such a prestigious project. Dr. Graves had worked
with Prentice Hall on several other projects and has written an
award-winning biography of an Indian trader for Oklahoma University
are delighted to have Laura Graves spearheading this new important
history project for Prentice Hall," said Charles Cavaliere, senior
acquisitions editor, history, for the publishing firm. "Laura is
exceptionally qualified to lead this project, both as a scholar
and as a teacher."
always wanted to do this," said Dr. Graves, who has taught 11 years
at SPC. "You teach from other people's books, and you think if this
were mine, I would do it this way. She got her chance at a publishers'
meeting. Two years ago, Dr. Graves had completed an instructors
manual, study guide and Texas component for Prentice Hall's American
history survey, Boydston's Making of America. "I met with the acquisitions
editor for history material, and we were talking about different
projects I could do for them. I had finished this one and they wanted
me to continue to do work for them. We tossed around some different
ideas. I said, 'This may sound real presumptuous because I am not
a big name, but I would really like to write an American History
Indian textbook.' He said great. We walked out there where angels
fear to tread." Dr. Graves then spent the next year preparing a
detailed proposal and finding three other authors to write different
sections of the textbook.
Graves will write the first half of the book from prehistoric times
til about 1900. Ken Townsend, a professor at Coastal Carolina University
in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will serve as second primary author, writing
the second half of the textbook. He has written a book on Indians
in World War II.
Vickie Sutton, director of the Texas Tech University School of Law
and a member of the Lumbee Indian tribe (from South Carolina), will
cover Indian law. "I was intrigued by Laura's suggestion that she
wanted to embark on a new way of looking at American history and
American Indian history," said Dr. Sutton. "I was also surprised
there had not been a history book written for undergraduates from
a Native American perspective."
Ishii, a Hopi Indian, will represent the Indian voices in the book.
In a departure from traditional history texts, he will begin each
chapter with a biographical sketch of a person and will use that
person's words and life to illustrate different concepts in each
focus is to bring people to the forefront in this book, as opposed
to the traditional way of keeping common ordinary people in the
background," explained Dr. Graves. "We are not all Sitting Bulls
and George Washingtons, not all important, influential powerful
people. We are just common ordinary people who raise kids, go to
work, do the things we do every day. Prentice Hall is very interested
in helping students engage with people just like themselves."
deadline to have a completed textbook in the hands of Prentice Hall
is Jan. 15, 2006.
Graves has been interested in history since she was a child growing
up in Ozona, Texas. Her great-grandmother was the first white woman
in the Transpecos region of Texas and moved to Crockett County in
1876. Dr. Graves grew up listening to stories told by her father
about the pioneer. Another woman named Mrs. James came to her family's
home selling fabric when Dr. Graves was a little girl. "She would
tell me stories about growing up in Quanah, Texas, when Quanah Parker
was there, riding into town on his big horse. I am sure my eyes
were as big as saucers," recalled the historian. "Most kids grow
out of that, but I never did."
earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology and English in 1975 and
a master's degree in museum science and anthropology in 1977 from
Texas Tech University. Dr. Graves later served as museum director
for Arkansas State Parks, curator of the Museum of Northern Arizona
in Flagstaff, taught part-time at Northern Arizona University and
at two California community colleges. She earned a PHD in history
and government in 1992 at Northern Arizona University and joined
SPC that year.
has written a book, Contemporary Hopi Pottery, for the Museum of
Northern Arizona, funded by a grant from the National Endowment
for the Arts, and helped produce Apache Gaming: Betting on the Past,
a video documentary for the Mesa Southwest Museum Mesa, Az. Her
biography, Thomas Varker Keam, Indian Trader:University of Oklahoma
Press, won the 1997-98 Angie Debo Prize as the best book published
that year by the university about the American Southwest.
Graves looks forward to her new project and the implications it
could have on future American history texts.
folks at Prentice Hall are very excited and they are very generous.
It is a tremendous investment for them," said Dr. Graves.
hopes that the textbook she has embarked on will serve as a benchmark
for future books about American Indian history.
hope that 20 years from now, some professor sitting in an office
will say well, Graves' book was good for 10 years, now we are going
to write a new one. I think that readers will realize that not only
has there been an incredible past that goes back thousands of years
but there is also an incredible future for Native Americans."