Questions to Address for Critique of Samuel Western’s Pushed Off the Mountain, Sold Down the River
1. How would you summarize Samuel Western’s essential, basic argument about the state of Wyoming and what it means to be a Wyomingite? Based on your own experience in this state, are the author’s assertions accurate and fair? In what areas are his observations and arguments valid? In what way(s) might he be off the mark? What might he be missing from his critique of Wyoming history and culture?
2. What advantages might Western have as an “outsider” (even though he’s resided in the state for more than 30 years) in his observations about Wyoming? What might a Wyoming native learn from the perspectives of someone coming from somewhere else? What might Western himself be able to learn from a “long-timer?”
3. In what ways are political, economic and social conditions in the state different since the book was first published in 2002? What conditions have remained the same?
4. Western refers to a number of myths regarding Wyoming history and self-image. What are they? What are their consequences, according to the author? In what ways are they significant from your own perspective?
5. What are the Wyoming values that you believe are the most important and consequential? Why? How? How well does Western treat them in his book?
6. In the last chapter of the book, Western describes six ideologies that stem from Wyoming mythology. From your own experience in this state, which of these assertions have the most impact and consequence on Wyoming government, politics, political culture, and economy? Why? What other ideologies could you add to this list?
7. Western concludes by suggesting eight ways that “Wyoming can build community and have more influence over its future.” Which of these assertions, from your perspective, is the most doable? How likely is the state going to be able to improve the conditions that have characterized it during its history? What other suggestions could you offer regarding Wyoming’s future prospects?