Center for Great Plains Studies

About the Center

Founded in 1976, the Center for Great Plains Studies, with its Great Plains Art Museum, is an interdisciplinary educational and cultural hub that cultivates awareness of and engagement with the diverse people, cultures, and natural environments of the Great Plains. The region invites inquiry into the relationships between its natural environment and the cultures brought by its inhabitants, as scholars and residents work to preserve healthy eco-systems and build thriving human communities. The Center operates the Great Plains Art MuseumFellows and Affiliate Fellows programGraduate Fellows program, various scholarly projects; it publishes Great Plains Quarterly and Great Plains Research; and presents public lectures and symposia.


The University of Nebraska is a land-grant institution with campuses and programs on the past, present, and future homelands of the Pawnee, Ponca, Otoe-Missouria, Omaha, Dakota, Lakota, Kaw, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Peoples, as well as those of the relocated Ho-Chunk, Sac and Fox, and Iowa Peoples.

Center news

Otoe-Missouria Day

The Center for Great Plains Studies and its Reconciliation Rising Project hosted the second annual Proclamation Day and Homecoming Ceremony for the Otoe-Missouria nation at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Sept. 21. The event included a public celebration at Lied Commons with speakers, drumming, dancing, and singing. The local Lincoln Indigenous community also erected a tipi on campus for the day, just south of Pound Hall. See video stories.

Call for Artists: Contemporary Indigeneity

For the fifth iteration of Contemporary Indigeneity, the Great Plains Art Museum seeks Native American artists addressing any issues and themes relevant to the contemporary Indigenous experience on the Great Plains. A panel of Native American art professionals will review the submitted work and make selections based on the artwork’s aesthetic merit and contribution to the field of contemporary art. Learn more.

2023 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize winner announced

The winner of the 2023 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize is Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town, and the Road to Reconciliation (Harper Collins, 2022) by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii).

2023 Elizabeth Rubendall Artist in Residence

The Great Plains Art Museum hosted Omaha-based artist Linda Rivera García as the 2023 Elizabeth Rubendall Artist in Residence. Rivera García is a Mexican-American Chicana artist, teacher, and storyteller who has been sharing her culture throughout Nebraska for decades. Visit the Artist in Residence page for a video on her residency.

March 30: Documentary Screening of "The Last Prairie"

Featuring Q&A with Director John O'Keefe

5:30-7 p.m., Center for Great Plains Studies

Join director John O’Keefe, professor of Theology and Journalism at Creighton University, for a screening of “The Last Prairie.” The film examines the Sandhills through the perspectives of ecologists, those who live and work there, and the Indigenous people whose ancestors were driven off the land.

Feb. 23 Panel: "Field Guide to a Hybrid Landscape"

Featuring Dana Fritz, Katie Anania, Rebecca Buller, Rose-Marie Muzika, Salvador Lindquist, and Carson Vaughan

5:30 p.m. Central, Great Plains Art Museum | Watch the recording

Nebraska is home to the largest hand-planted forest in the Western Hemisphere, the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest and Grasslands. The Great Plains Art Museum is currently displaying an exhibition of photographs of the forest by UNL Art Professor Dana Fritz through March 11. The forest and the photographs will be the topic of a panel discussion and will be moderated by author and journalist Carson Vaughan, who covered the Bovee Fire which burned more than 18,000 acres in and around the forest in 2022.

This event received funding support from the UNL Faculty Senate Convocations Committee.

Feb. 7: Dr. Andrew Graybill, "What's So Great About the Great Plains?"

5:30 p.m., Center for Great Plains Studies | Watch the talk

The Great Plains is a region that is difficult to define and often overlooked and misunderstood. Historian Andrew Graybill traces one early effort to give the Great Plains its due. In his most important book, “The Great Plains” (1931), leading western historian Walter Prescott Webb (1888-1963) emphasized the significance of the environment as a historical actor in its own right. Yet the book is marred by several shortcomings, among them Webb’s wincing racism. In his talk highlighting the new 2022 edition of the book (University of Nebraska Press), Graybill explores the book’s considerable limitations while arguing for its enduring vitality. Graybill is a professor of history and director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. This lecture is supported by UNL History Department, the University of Nebraska Press and the UNL Faculty Senate Convocations Committee.

Sept. 21: Otoe-Missouria Proclamation Day and Celebration

Lincoln mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird will proclaim Sept. 21 Otoe-Missouria Day and welcome members of the tribal nation back to their ancestral homelands at a special ceremony at 10 a.m. on Sept. 21 at the Center for Great Plains Studies. Watch the recording.

Book Prize Lecture: Dr. Alaina Roberts

Dr. Roberts gave the annual Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize lecture on Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Center. Watch the lecture.

Great Plains Art Museum launches collection database

More than 500 artworks are now searchable at our online database. The Museum recently received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), supported by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to support efforts to digitize the Museum's art collection and make artworks viewable online.

Center's Black Homesteader Project shifts toward Oklahoma

National Park Service is providing funding to the Center for Great Plains Studies to focus on Oklahoma (Indian Territory in the 19th century), which had the largest number of homesteaders of African descent. The multi-year project is a partnership between the University of Nebraska’s Center for Great Plains Studies and the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Kalenda Eaton, Associate Professor in the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma, will lead the research team. The project aims to explore the lives of Black homesteaders in Oklahoma and examine connections between land ownership, citizenship, and upward mobility for many who had recently been enslaved. It will extend a prior Center study, also funded by the National Park Service, of Black homesteaders in other Great Plains states.

Alaina E. Roberts wins Great Plains Book Prize

The winner of the 2022 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize is author Alaina E. Roberts for I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). Dr. Roberts is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh.

Center launches series of events on Reckoning and Reconciliation on the Great Plains

We’re making the summit part of a year-long series of events and programs that we’re calling A Year of Reckoning and Reconciliation: Conversation, Learning, and Connecting.

See schedule and sign up for series

Coming to the Plains event

“Coming to the Plains” is a project from University of Nebraska at Kearney that captures the stories of immigration from Latinx individuals who have settled in Nebraska. View a visual exhibit, watch a documentary, and hear from the project team on Oct. 20, 5:30 p.m.

More information

2021 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize winner: Dr. Leo Killsback

Dr. Leo Killsback is the winner of the 2021 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize for the two-volume set A Sacred People: Indigenous Governance, Traditional Leadership, and the Warriors of the Cheyenne Nation and A Sovereign People: Indigenous Nationhood, Traditional Law, and the Covenants of the Cheyenne Nation. He spoke at the Center on Sept. 30. The talk was recorded as a video and podcast.

More information

Great Plains Birds released

Great Plains Birds, by Larkin Powell, is the newest book in the the Discover the Great Plains series. It's available for pre-order at the University of Nebraska Press.

Great Plains Weather released

Great Plains Weather, by Ken Dewey, is the newest book in the the Discover the Great Plains series. It's available for pre-order at the University of Nebraska Press.

Great Plains Politics released

Great Plains Politics, by Peter Longo, is the newest book in the the Discover the Great Plains series. It's now available at the University of Nebraska Press and at the Great Plains Art Museum.

Black homesteaders project receives additional funding

The National Park Service has awarded a second grant to the Center for Great Plains Studies to advance the project "Black Homesteaders in the Great Plains." In 2017, Center Director Richard Edwards and post-doctoral researchers Jacob Friefeld and Mikal Eckstrom began work under the first grant to create the first database of all identified black homesteaders in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. Since race is typically not listed in homestead filings, this research requires comparing homestead records with decennial census records. Read more >

Check out the Washington Post op/ed on the project.

Great Plains Literature released

Great Plains Literature, by Linda Pratt, is the newest book in the the Discover the Great Plains series. It's now available at the University of Nebraska Press and at the Great Plains Art Museum

Great Plains Bison released

Great Plains Bison by Dan O'Brien, wildlife biologist, bison rancher, author of Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land (2014), is the newest book in the Discover the Great Plains series. See a bison infographic

Sandhill crane economic impact study released

In partnership with the Center, a team at the University of Nebraska Kearney has released a report on the economic impact of Sandhill crane tourism in Nebraska. Key finding: The economic impact of tourism in central Nebraska during the 2017 sandhill crane migration was $14.3 million. The full report is available for download.

Nebraska Ecotourism Liability report produced

A new report, "Rural Landowner Liability for Recreational Activities in Nebraska" is now available for download. Produced by the Center's Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition and written by UNL Law Professor Anthony Schutz, this guide is intended to give advice to new and operating ecotourism providers in Nebraska.

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Current journal issues

GPQ coverGreat Plains Quarterly, Vol 43, No. 1

Current Issue of Great Plains ResearchGreat Plains Research, Vol. 32.2