Revenant author Michael Punke will be giving a lecture about George Bird Grinnell and Yellowstone bison at Montana State University Monday, October 16.
Punke will be speaking as part of MSU’s “Perspectives on the American West Lecture Series,” presented by the Center for Western Lands and Peoples and co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Architecture and the Burton K. Wheeler Center. His talk will take place at the Museum of the Rockies’ Hager Auditorium in Bozeman at 6 p.m. A book signing at 5:30 p.m. will precede the event.
The event is free and open to the public.
According to a MSU press release, Punke’s talk will be called “Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo and the Birth of the New West.” The title mirrors a 2007 book Punke wrote about Grinnell, where Punke argues Grinnell played an outsized role not only in preventing bison from going extinct but also in raising Yellowstone’s profile as a premier national park. From the news release:
Punke will discuss the saga of George Bird Grinnell, a scientist, journalist, hunter and a conservationist, who led the battle to save the buffalo from extinction and gave birth to the American conservation movement. In the final decades of the 19th century, an American buffalo herd once numbering 30 million was reduced to 23 animals. Fighting in the pages of magazines, in Washington’s halls of power and in the frozen valleys of Yellowstone National Park, Grinnell and his allies sought to preserve the icon. Grinnell shared his adventures with some of the greatest and most infamous characters of the American West—from John James Audubon and Buffalo Bill to George Armstrong Custer and Theodore Roosevelt.
As mentioned, Punke is the author of The Revenant, which was later adapted into a major motion picture. He is also the author of Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917.
Born in Torrington, Wyoming, Punke lived in Missoula between 2003 and 2010, during which he wrote both Fire and Brimstone and Last Stand. Between 2010 and 2017, he served as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization. He currently works as vice president for Global Public Policy at Amazon Web Services.
The Center for Western Lands and Peoples is an interdisciplinary research center within MSU’s College of Letters and Science, focusing on places and peoples in the American West and Canada.