SIPI Alumni Spotlight: Chance Ward (Lakota)

Published April 28, 2023

A recent article in Science Magazine explores the ways in which horses began to transform Native American life in the American West much earlier than previously thought.  SIPI alum, Chance Ward, is a co-author of the study and currently attending the University of Colorado Boulder as a graduate student in Museum and Field Studies.  

The research highlights the importance of incorporating Indigenous knowledge and perspectives into the study of the region's history and ecology.  It is one first studies to utilize a combination of traditional scientific methods and Indigenous oral history to investigate the arrival and utilization of horses in the American West. The study revealed that horses were present in the West much earlier than previously believed and that they were utilized by Indigenous communities for a variety of purposes, including hunting and transportation.

Ward, who is Lakota from the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, told us the research was heavily focused on the Lakota, Comanche, and Pawnee Nations with involvement of tribal people in every part of the research. The research focuses on the tribal oral histories and archaeology of horse bones that shows evidence that Native people on the Great Plains had horses before the date of 1680, which was the year of the Pueblo Revolt.

As the article explains, horses quickly became a vital part of Indigenous life, transforming hunting and transportation practices and facilitating trade and communication between different communities. The article also notes that horses played a key role in the colonial expansion of European powers in the region, as well as in the resistance efforts of Indigenous communities.

Overall, the article emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the complex and often fraught history of horses in the American West, and of recognizing the ways in which Indigenous communities have shaped and been shaped by these animals for thousands of years.

As always, we enjoy sharing the many great stories and amazing work of our SIPI alumni.  We thank Mr. Ward for letting us tell a bit about his current journey and wish him continued success!
Listen to Chance share about his research on Native American Calling