“Black Hawk, the new world in which we had come to live”: Stories from the Red Cloud Community

During the Willa Cather Foundation‘s 63rd annual Willa Cather Spring Conference, May 31 to June 2, 2018: “Here at last is an American Novel: Celebrating 100 Years of My Ántonia,” featuring Nina McConigley, author of Cowboys and East Indians.

National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, NE

A special session of the 63rd Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference will focus on life in Red Cloud, NE, both during Cather’s life and today. In My Ántonia when Jim Burden is relocated to Black Hawk (Cather’s fictional version of Red Cloud), he describes the town with familiar language to Nebraskans: “Black Hawk, the new world in which we had come to live, was a clean, well-planted little prairie town, with white fences and good green yards about the dwellings, wide, dusty streets, and shapely little trees growing along the wooden sidewalks.” Jim quickly learns that even within those neat dwellings, people struggle and fight, enjoy life or long to escape. What does it mean to grow up in a small town on the prairie? How has Red Cloud changed since Willa Cather was a child there?