Encounter On The Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers And The Dispossession Of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930

Encounter On The Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers And The Dispossession Of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930

Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930

In 1904, the first Scandinavian settlers moved onto the Spirit Lake Dakota Indian Reservation. These land-hungry immigrants struggled against severe poverty, often becoming the sharecropping tenants of Dakota landowners. Yet the homesteaders' impoverishment did not impede their quest to acquire Indian land, and by 1929 Scandinavians owned more reservation acreage than their Dakota neighbors. Norwegian homesteader Helena Haugen Kanten put it plainly: "We stole the land from the Indians."

With this largely unknown story at its center, Encounter on the Great Plains brings together two dominant processes in American history: the unceasing migration of newcomers to North America, and the protracted dispossession of indigenous peoples who inhabited the continent.

Drawing on fifteen years of archival research and 130 oral histories, Karen V. Hansen explores the epic issues of co-existence between settlers and Indians and the effect of racial hierarchies, both legal and cultural, on marginalized peoples. Hansen offers a wealth of intimate detail about daily lives and community events, showing how both Dakotas and Scandinavians resisted assimilation and used their rights as new citizens to combat attacks on their cultures. In this flowing narrative, women emerge...

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