Muriel H. Wright, Angie Debo, and Alice Marriott
Scholars of the American West have largely overlooked the lives and work of three women public historians who, in the 1930s and 1940s, produced some of the most important writings about Oklahoma and the Southwest. In Hidden Treasures of the American West, Patricia Loughlin illuminates the contributions of Muriel H. Wright, Angie Debo, and Alice Marriott to the study of the West and American Indians.
Muriel Wright, an Oklahoma Choctaw, promoted Oklahoma history in her writings for the Chronicles of Oklahoma, a journal published by the Oklahoma Historical Society. Wright focused on the progress, strength, and endurance of American Indian cultures.
Angie Debo, Wright's contemporary, studied American Indian history and Oklahoma's distinct identity as a place of frontier possibilities and American Indian settlement. She participated in the larger, national discourse concerning the history of the United States and the history of the American Indians, revisiting issues she thought were misrepresented in previous accounts.
Alice Marriott, an anthropologist, was known within the discipline as a pioneer of experimental ethnography, but she never enjoyed the respect her output deserved. Marriott strove to convince collectors that Indian arts and crafts from Oklahoma were just as authentic and valuable as those from Arizona or New Mexico.
Patricia Loughlin sketches the biographies of these influential women including their significant texts that contributed greatly to Oklahoma historiography, their establishment of new methodologies, and their understanding of state and regional history, federal Indian policy, and interpretations of American Indian cultures.