Center for Great Plains Studies

About the Center

The Center for Great Plains Studies is a interdisciplinary regional research and outreach program established in 1976 at the University of Nebraska. The mission of the Center is to foster the study of and appreciation for the people, cultures, and natural environment 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.

SUPPORT THE CENTER & MUSEUM

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


Sept. 23-24 Sandoz event

2021 Pilster Great Plains Lecture & Mari Sandoz Symposium: "The Life and Places of Mari Sandoz">

Live stream
Sept. 30, 5:30 p.m.: 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.

More information
Call for Proposals! Reckoning and Reconciliation: Confronting Our Past, Reimagining Our Future

The 2022 Great Plains conference asks how residents of the Great Plains can best reckon with the violence, conflict, and abuse that has occurred in our region and move toward healing, justice, and reconciliation. We invite proposals for paper presentations, roundtable discussions, workshops, literary events and book discussions, lightning-round sessions, or other formats. The symposium will be held in person in Lincoln from April 6-8, 2022, but will include an online component.

More information
Call for Artists: Contemporary Indigeneity

In 2022, the Great Plains Art Museum is reviving its biennial juried exhibition, Contemporary Indigeneity. For the fourth iteration of this group show, the museum seeks artists addressing any issues and themes relevant to the contemporary Native American experience on the Great Plains, with the goal of highlighting current Native artistic practice and the diverse media and content explored by these artists. A panel of Native American art curators will blindly review the submitted works and make selections based on the artwork’s aesthetic merit and contribution to the field of contemporary Native art.

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Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 11

A virtual exploration of the exhibition: "The Great Migration: A Celebration of Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska" with Great Plains Art Museum Curator/Director Ashley Wilkinson, artist Jude Martindale, and Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center Sr. Education Manager Jason “the Birdnerd” St. Sauver.

Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.
Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 10

We spoke with Brian Campbell, the Executive Director of the Iowa Environmental Council and Josh Dolezal, professor of English at Central College in Iowa. They're the team behind "MidAmericana: Stories from a Changing Midwest" -- a podcast project that explores the history and identity of the Greater Midwest through the lives and stories of individuals.

Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.
Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 9

The Center spoke with Danelle Smith, CEO of the Winnebago Comprehensive Healthcare System. Early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska formed a comprehensive, interdisciplinary task force to respond to the needs of the community. Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.


Museum opens online store

We're excited to launch our new Great Plains Art Museum store on UNL Marketplace. We can now ship shirts anywhere in the U.S.! We're celebrating the launch with a BRAND NEW T-shirt design that features several Great Plains birds. The new shirt along with previous shirts, stickers, pins and more can be purchased via the store.


Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 8

In this lecture, author Pekka Hämäläinen, talks about his book: Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power from the Yale University Press, which won the 2020 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize. Hämäläinen is Rhodes Professor of American History at St. Catherine's College at the University of Oxford. Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.


Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 7

In this interview, we talk with Linda Black Elk about a renewed connection to indigenous foods, community action, and health during a pandemic. Black Elk is the Food Sovereignty Coordinator at United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota and an ethnobotanist specializing in traditional foods of the Great Plains. Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.


Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 6

In this interview, we tour the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Bee Lab with Dr. Judy Wu-Smart, Assistant Professor and extension and research entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Wu-Smart has been the director of the Bee Lab on East Campus since 2015 and is committed to developing pollinator health programs to help beekeepers, scientists, policy makers, and land managers understand bee health and their interactions with the environment. Wu-Smart has an undergraduate degree from Humboldt State University, a Masters from Washington State University, and a PhD from the University of Minnesota. Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.


Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 5

In this interview, we speak with Dr. Will Avilés, professor and chair of political science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney where his fields are comparative politics and Latin American politics. Dr. Avilés received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida International University and his Ph.D. from the University of California-Riverside. He joined UNK in 2002. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been working with community activists and families from the meatpacking industry, an industry that has recently garnered national headlines related to COVID-19 cases and working conditions. Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.

Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 4

In this interview, Great Plains Art Museum Director and Curator Ashley Hussman talks with artist Kirsten Furlong about her artwork and exhibition "Over the Edge of the World," which is currently on display at the museum. Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.

Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 3

Blizzards! Wind! Tornadoes! UNL Professor Emeritus Ken Dewey talks about why the Great Plains has such extreme weather and shares some events that best illustrate this weather. Dewey is the author of "Great Plains Weather," part of the "Discover the Great Plains" series from the Center for Great Plains Studies and University of Nebraska Press. Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.

Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 2

In this interview, we speak with tour guide Joel Green, author of "Robber's Cave: Truths, Legends, Recollections," which won a 2019 Nebraska Book Award. Green explains the cave's topography, history, and uses in this interview. Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.


Great Plains Anywhere: Episode 1

"Great Plains Anywhere" is a series of Great Plains talks and interviews in video and podcast form that you can listen to anywhere. It's part of the Paul A. Olson lecture series. The first episode in these mini talks is an interview with the new Director for the Center for Great Plains Studies, Margaret Jacobs, Chancellor's Professor of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Visit our lecture page for video and podcast options.


Great Plains Art Museum reopened Aug. 11

We are pleased to announce that the Great Plains Art Museum reopened to the public on Aug.11. Thank you for your support and engagement during our closure. Our public hours for the fall semester will be Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Admission is always free! The Center for Great Plains Studies is open by appointment only. Contact our staff for more information.


Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize

Native American history shines in this year’s finalists for the 2020 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize. The 2020 winner is Pekka Hämäläinen for Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power (Yale University Press). The Prize, in its 15th year, celebrates the book published during the previous year, which made the biggest contribution to advancing understanding of and appreciation for the people, cultures, and natural environment of the Great Plains.


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.


2019 Great Plains conference

See photos, the program, and speaker list for the 2019 Great Plains Symposium - "Wakanyéja: A Conference on American Indian Behavioral Health"


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


Platte Basin Timelapse project relocates to Center

Platte Basin Timelapse project has found a new home at the Center for Great Plains Studies through a collaboration between the center and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Under the direction of Michael Farrell and Michael Forsberg, the team is now located on the fifth floor of the center at 1155 Q St. It was formerly housed in the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Center on East Campus.


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 40, No.3

Current Issue of Great Plains ResearchGreat Plains Research, Vol. 31.1