This is a guest post by Sam Hicks.
I shall not consent to be tried under a law in which my sex had no voice in making.
–Pearl Hart, highway woman extraordinaire
Pearl was one of many women (and men) who found a measure of freedom and equality in the American West. The West is too often viewed simplistically as ‘the systematic extermination and dispossession of Native Americans and Latinos by white men.’ This view, aside from whitewashing out of existence the invaluable contributions of African Americans, trivializing conflicts between Native Americans, and neglecting the complex contributions of Latinos, ignores the role women played in the history of the West. It suggests a history of the West in which women (if they appear at all) were passive, mobile incubators for fetal cowboys…or dancing girls. This results in a tendency to ignore the West when discussing women in the 19th century and the suffrage movement in a preference to focus on activities in the Northeast.