Westward Expansion

Aerial view of flooding in Livingston, Montana—a gateway town near Yellowstone National Park—on June 14, 2022

History of Now

What Extreme Flooding in Yellowstone Means for the National Park's Gateway Towns

These communities rely almost entirely on tourism for their existence—yet too much tourism, not to mention climate change, can destroy them

Members of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps pose on Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park in 1896.

The Black Buffalo Soldiers Who Biked Across the American West

In 1897, the 25th Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps embarked on a 1,900-mile journey from Montana to Missouri

The only available photograph of America Newton, a formerly enslaved woman who ran a laundry business out of her cabin in Julian, California, dates to around 1910.

The Trailblazing Black Entrepreneurs Who Shaped a 19th-Century California Boomtown

Though founded by Confederates, Julian became a place of opportunity for people of color—and a model for what the U.S. could look like after the Civil War

Denver's apology for an 1880 anti-Chinese riot comes during a surge of racially motivated violence and discrimination toward Asian Americans. 

Denver Apologizes for Anti-Chinese Riot of 1880

A white mob terrorized residents and murdered a man, but the city never punished the perpetrators

A wooden trestle bridge near Terrace, Utah. The state has more intact miles of original railroad grade than any other in the West.

What Archaeologists Are Learning About the Lives of the Chinese Immigrants Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad

In the sparse Utah desert, the vital contributions of these 19th-century laborers are finally coming to light

The exploration and preservation of Yellowstone in 1871 and 1872 has long been recognized as a central moment in the history of American conservation. Less well known is its role in shaping Lakota history and U.S. Indian policy.

How Sitting Bull's Fight for Indigenous Land Rights Shaped the Creation of Yellowstone National Park

The 1872 act that established the nature preserve provoked Lakota assertions of sovereignty

The updated sign will state that Scottish fur trader Alexander Ross "mapped" or "encountered" Galena Summit.

Inside Idaho's Campaign to Include Indigenous History in Its Highway Markers

Native leaders and scholars are advising the State Historic Preservation Office's landmark decolonization project

The $11 million listing features a post office, a gas station, residences and more.

You Could Own a Former Military Town in New Mexico

In its heyday, Fort Wingate housed Buffalo Soldiers, Navajo code talkers and a future general

Angel Rodríguez-Díaz, The Protagonist of an Endless Story, 1993, oil on canvas, 72 x 57 7/8 in. (182.9 x 147.0 cm.)

Smithsonian Voices

How Artists Challenge Mythic Conceptions of the American West

Forty-eight modern and contemporary artists who are reclaiming the narratives of their region

Game developers consulted with historians to create accurate depictions of 19th-century Native American life. The new version features playable Native characters.

Innovation for Good

New 'Oregon Trail' Game Revisits Westward Expansion From Native Perspective

Developers hired three Indigenous historians to help revamp the iconic educational computer game

As part of the nation's westward expansion motives, some Midwesterners wanted to move the capital to St. Louis

The Ill-Fated Idea to Move the Nation's Capital to St. Louis

In the years after the Civil War, some wanted a new seat of government that would be closer to the geographic center of a growing nation

Halahtookit, a Nez Perce man, widely believed to be the son of William Clark.

Ask Smithsonian

Are There Native Descendants of the Lewis and Clark Expedition? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

Women vote at the polls in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In Wyoming, women were voting fifty years before the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920.

100 Years of Women at the Ballot Box

How the American West Led the Way for Women in Politics

Western territories and states were the first to expand voting rights for women

The valiant Inez Milholland, standard-bearer in the nation’s struggle for female enfranchisement, is portrayed here by Isabella Serrano.

100 Years of Women at the Ballot Box

Recreating a Suffragist's Barnstorming Tour Through the American West

Inez Milholland Boissevain's campaign to win the vote for women inspires a dramatic homage a century later

Researchers used these five replica clay pipes to "smoke" tobacco and other native plants.

Early Residents of the Pacific Northwest Smoked Smooth Sumac

Researchers used a new technique to detect the chemical fingerprints of specific plant species in a 1,400-year-old pipe's residue

A storm on the Great Salt Lake in Utah exposed the wreckage of what may be a 100-year-old boat.

Cool Finds

Storm Unearths Wreck of Century-Old Boat in Utah's Great Salt Lake

The vessel may belong to a fleet used to construct and maintain a railroad causeway that crosses the briny body of water

This week's selections include The Women With Silver Wings, Tombstone and The Restaurant.

Books of the Month

A 2,000-Year History of Restaurants and Other New Books to Read

The fifth installment in our weekly series spotlights titles that may have been lost in the news amid the COVID-19 crisis

Archaeologist Kate Kolwicz examines fragments of late 19th-century Chinese pottery unearthed in downtown Missoula.

Remnants of a 19th-Century Red-Light District and Chinatown Unearthed in Montana

A trove of artifacts reveals the town of Missoula's remarkable and diverse past

The Bender family abandoned the scene of their crimes, and their ultimate fate remains unclear.

The Kansas Homestead Where America's First Serial Killer Family Committed Its Crimes Is Up for Sale

Authorities recovered the bodies of up to 11 people from the Old West tract of land owned by the notorious "Bloody Benders"

A map shows Mexico and its provinces—which included Mexican Texas—in 1822.

When Mexico's Immigration Troubles Came From Americans Crossing the Border

Before Texas fought for its independence, thousands of settlers from the east entered the country unlawfully in search of land and agricultural opportunity

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