News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 p.m.
Business & Economy

Morongo tribe may bid for Colt: A look at 'the Gun that Won the West'

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Listen to story

Download this story 3MB

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians has expressed interest in bidding on the Colt Holding Company - the gun manufacturer behind the Colt revolver. The 179-year-old company filed for bankruptcy this month.

Drew Ryce is an attorney for Morongo, and he told Reuters Tuesday that the tribe may bid on the failing company, saying, "Colt is the Gun that Won the West. We are the West."

If it seems strange that a California tribe would want to buy the company behind "the Gun that Won the West," Jeffrey Richardson agrees, "It's a little surprising."

Richardson is the Gamble Curator of Western History, Popular Culture, and Firearms at the Autry National Center of the American West, and author of "The Colt Revolver in the American West." He told Take Two that the possible bid is "dripping with irony."

"When you hear the phrase 'Won the West', that means someone lost the West," Richardson said, adding that Native Americans are widely considered to be the ones who lost.

But Richardson explained that the Native people of Southern California and the rest of the West also used firearms, including Colt revolvers.

"The history of the American West and Native Americans as it relates to firearms is just as intricate and complex as that relationship between white American settlers and firearms in the West," Richardson said.

"The common assumption is you have John Wayne with his gun in hand, going up against Native Americans," Richardson said. "But Native Americans used firearms for all of the same reasons that outlaws and lawmen did in the American West; and it was actually access to firearms that allowed certain Native American tribes to conquer other Native American tribes."

To hear more about the history of "The Gun that Won the West," click on the audio player above.