Hillsdale College is taking campus to the days of cowboys, accordions and banjos, and the California gold rush.
The third Center for Constructive Alternatives seminar for the academic year Sunday to Wednesday will take its audience to the American West. Combining presentations from historians, authors, and a musical performer, the CCA will focus on the Old West, spanning roughly from Lewis and Clark’s journey in 1804 until 1890.
“The American West is important to the character of America as a whole, not only geographically, but also politically, culturally, and anthropologically,” Director of External Affairs Matt Bell said in an email. “The stories and experiences of American Indians, explorers, pioneers, and settlers contributed greatly to the character of America, and their legacy is part of what makes America great today.”
Part of this societal inheritance from the Old West comes from the culture of the times. Unique to this CCA is a musical performance by Sourdough Slim, the “last of the Vaudeville Cowboys.” He will be performing at 8 p.m. on Monday, singing, yodeling, and playing the guitar, harmonica, and accordion.
“I think hearing the music of the time really adds to the experience of the West and gives a good perspective on where cowboy culture comes from,” Rick Crowder, or “Sourdough Slim,” said.
In addition, audience members will hear from Peter Hassrick, director emeritus of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West; Nathaniel Philbrick, an expert on the Battle of the Little Bighorn; and more.
“Taken as a whole, we think that the program will give students, faculty, staff, and visitors a good introduction to the American West,” Bell said.
Gaining a better understanding of what life in the West was like in comparison to how it is portrayed in films and TV is what sophomore Alexander Green said he is most looking forward to about the CCA.
“The American West is kind of a nostalgic thing for me,” Green said. “I grew up watching westerns with my family, and I thought learning more about it seemed really interesting.”