Russ Gifford
Those Who Came Before Us: Exploring Regional History

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My Presentations:

Those Who Came Before Us

Native Americans and American History

The Founding Fathers

The American Revolution & Creation of the Republic

A History of the House of Representatives

Presidential Leadership

Contentious Elections in American History

One Term Wonders

Pivotal Moments In American History

The American Civil War and Reconstruction

The Crucible - America After the War of Rebellion

Westward Expansion

Traveling the West in the 19th Century

Supremely Confident: Legal Cases that Changed History

The Fight for the Right to Vote - the Women's Movement

Women Making a Difference

The Rise and Fall of Mass Media

The Great War

The 1920s

Regional Greats

WWII - 75 Years Later

Justice Delayed: The Civil Rights Movement

The Cold War

The History of the CIA

The War in Vietnam

My Generation: The History of the 1960s

Boomer Classics: Books that Shaped the Sixties

Into the Darkness: 1968

Power to the People - from the 1950s to Today

The History of Rock n Roll: The First 30 Years

Regional History

Iowa in the American Civil War

Sioux City: Our History and Our Hopes

Sioux City: Ground Zero in the Great Depression

Sioux City: Crime Corruption, & Redemption

World History

The Crusades

The Reformation at 500

Written Works and Articles

Spectacular Voyage: Lewis and Clark in Our Region

Murder On Water Street: The Death Rev. Haddock

A Glimpse of the Past: Steamboat Perils

Empty Parking Lots and Dark Wal-Marts

Susan B. Anthony and  Sioux City in the 1870s

A Chance Encounter with a Legend


Music of 1966:Summer in the City

Music of 1966:Music of Blond on Blond

About Russ Gifford

Contact Russ

These programs are live captures of talks with audio and video.
Clicking the link will take you to YouTube and will play the program in a new page.
You can click the full screen window to see a larger view of the program!

The Natives of the Mississippi River Region

The Mississippi Cultures: Cahokia - Click here

One would think a structure larger than the Great Pyramid in Cairo would be well known to people within 500 miles of it. Or that a city older, larger, and better organized than London during its era would be a celebrated and talked about historical feature in the Western hemisphere. Yet, until the last few decades, the Cahokia Culture has remained largely unknown and rarely mentioned. Join Russ Gifford for a look at this moment in history that should be as well known as the Mayan and Aztecs, but because they built with dirt, not stone, their story is rarely told.

The Natives of the American Southwest

Learn the story of the people behind the Pueblos, the Great Houses, and the Cliff Dwellings. Who were they? Where did they come from?  And where did they go?

We will hear first hand accounts of what early explorers thought when they stumbled on these abandoned great houses, larger than any building most had experienced. We will also discuss the construction and how they got the materials to build them, and why they were built where they were. Beyond the buildings, which remain awe-inspiring nearly 10 centuries later, we will also investigate the vast trade network that united these people - and their possible connection to other native groups of the era. What have scientists determined in the past few decades about the inhabitants of these regions, and their disappearance?

(Above: An early photo of a cliff dwelling, from 1874. Photographed by William Henry Jackson.)

Chaco Canyon  (Session 1) - Click here

In the middle of an arid desert, massive buildings were home to the Chaco Culture. The pueblo style, with the multi-level houses built without mortar or modern means, still stand ten centuries later. The kivas and courtyards beckon modern explorers looking for an answer to who built them. How did they live in such an inhospitable region? Where did they go? Join Russ Gifford to examine how these buildings came to exist and find clues about the people who lived there.

Mesa Verde and the Four Corners Region (Session 2) - Click here

The cliff dwellings built on the mesa in southeastern Colorado are a joy to behold. The concept seems too fantastic to contemplate with the sturdy multilevel buildings tucked into openings or built on the high-topped buttes of the mountain. Further out, near the modern Four Corners area, are yet other outposts. It seems to speak of an organized civilization with a large trading network. Join Russ Gifford as he uncovers the clues of this great mystery!

The Natives of the Siouxland Rivers Region

The Mill Creek Culture in Iowa and South Dakota (no Audio) - Click here

Click here to read the prehistory of the natives in our region!

The Iroquois Confederacy -- Click here to view program

The League of the Iroquois, located in the Great Lakes region of what is now upper New York state, is North America’s first political union of independent nations. From the structure of their houses to the structure of their vast interrelated nations, this talk will take us inside this ground-breaking confederacy that represented a non-aggression pact among the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk nations. Sometime in the 16th century, these original five joined together to stop the constant blood feuds, and the results changed their world for over two centuries. This talk will focus on their lifestyle and the structure of the Iroquois clan system. Learn how the long multifamily houses used by these Woodlands Era cultures became the metaphor for the resulting relationships between these nations. The important role played by women in the political system will also be explored, as well as the many notable achievements of the League.