"In this well-written monograph Paula M. Nelson tells the story of the settlement of 'west river country,' that part of South Dakota west of the Missouri River....Nelson's major contribution is her reconstruction of the social life of this generation of settlers....Nelson is particularly sensitive to the experience of pioneer women, both those who labored within the family and those single women who homesteaded on their own."--American Historical Review
"After the West Was Won is an impressively researched and beautifully written study....Nelson also conveys the sense of pain and suffering that pioneers in western South Dakota endured; the technology of steam, electricity, and internal combustion failed to create utopia in a primitive area after the West was won."--Technology and Culture
"Paula M. Nelson's account of the trials and tribulations of the pioneers of that flat, windswept plain is a welcome addition to the literature on the agricultural frontier."--Journal of American History
In this report, Albert C. Spaulding describes the 1939 archaeological excavations at the Arzberger site, in Hughes County, South Dakota, near the Missouri River. Spaulding and his team found the remains of more than forty houses, of which they excavated four. They also found a ditch and stockade; human burials; and artifacts, including pottery, shell, bone, and stone tools.
In July 1909 twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth Corey left her Iowa farm to stake her claim to a South Dakota homestead. Over the next ten years, as she continued her schoolteaching career and carved out a home for herself in this inhospitable territory, she sent a steady stream of letters to her family back in Iowa. From the edge of modern America, Bess wrote long, gossipy accounts—"our own continuing adventure story," according to her brother Paul—of frontier life on the high plains west of the Missouri River. Irrepressible, independent-minded, and evidently fearless, the self-styled Bachelor Bess gives us a firsthand, almost daily account of her homesteading adventures. We can all stake a claim in her energetic letters.
An important collection of personal essays from one of the most widely published American environmental writers addresses the effects of ranching on the environment. Acclaimed nature writer Linda M. Hasselstrom sees herself as a rancher who writes—a definition that shapes the tone and content of her writing. Now owner of the South Dakota cattle ranch where she grew up, Hasselstrom lives in intimate contact with the natural world. "Nature is to me both home and office. Nature is my boss, manager of the branch office—or ranch office—where I toil to convert native grass into meat. . . . If I want to keep my job as well as my home, I pay attention not only to Nature's orders, but to her moods and whims." She writes knowingly of the rancher's toil and of the intelligence and dignity of the wild and domesticated creatures that share the prairie grassland she calls home. As one who knows and loves the land, Hasselstrom appreciates the concerns of environmental activists and understands that responsible ranchers can play a role in nurturing a healthy rural ecosystem. Rich in detail, humor, and pathos, these essays offer wry commentary on the scope of human folly and the even greater human potential for community and empathy. "Only people who live in the country," she writes, "could form a relationship with nature so intimate that they feel concern for one lonely duck. People who live in cities . . . only glimpse nature from high windows or speeding vehicles. Even wilderness lovers who probe deeply are only passing through. We who live on the land truly live within the land, each of our lives only one among the other inhabitants of the place." These are essays to read with wonder and delight, to relish and ponder. Available in hardcover and paperback.
Many people living far away from Indian reservations express sympathy for the poverty and misery experienced by Native Americans, yet, Thomas Biolsi argues, the problems faced by Native Americans are the results of white privilege.
In Deadliest Enemies, Biolsi connects the origins of racial tension between Indians and non-Indians on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to federal laws, showing how the courts have created opposing political interests along race lines. Biolsi demonstrates that the court’s definitions of legal rights—both constitutional and treaty rights—make solutions to racial tensions intractable.
This powerful work sheds much-needed light on racial conflicts in South Dakota and in the rest of the United States, and holds white people accountable for the benefits of their racial privilege that come at the expense of Native Americans.
Thomas Biolsi is professor of Native American studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
This book assembles information on the fish fauna of South Dakota into a conveniently usable form. Ninety-three species are described with precise data on distribution and measurements. Additionally, this book attempts (1) to collect and identify published records of South Dakota fishes, (2) to present keys for the identification of fishes known or expected to occur in South Dakota, (3) to record original distributional data based on 137 fish collections taken throughout the state, (4) to solve some problems involving the systematic status of certain South Dakota species, (5) to clarify or extend information on the distribution of several species in the adjoining Plains area, and (6) to determine the geographic sources of origin of South Dakota fishes and to interpret routes of postglacial dispersal.
While many studies of religion in the West have focused on the region's diversity, freedom, and individualism, Todd M. Kerstetter brings together the three most glaring exceptions to those rules to explore the boundaries of tolerance as enforced by society and the U.S. government. In sharp contrast to the mythic image of the West as the "Land of the Free," Kerstetter analyzes three tragic episodes that reveal the West as a cultural battleground: the Mormon Utah Expedition and Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857, the Lakota Ghost Dancers and the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota in 1890, and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas in 1993.
Focusing on the Plains territory of east central South Dakota as well as the Great Lakes lumber-producing region of Wisconsin's Chippewa Valley, John Vogel carefully and thoroughly examines the pattern and process by which lumber reached South Dakota. The Great Dakota Boom of 1878 to 1887 and the Laird, Norton Lumber Company of Winona, Minnesota, provide the basis for his engrossing book.
The westward expansion of the railroad and the continuing settlement of the Great Plains in the late nineteenth century allowed the lumber companies of Minnesota and Wisconsin to send their boards and beams and fenceposts and millwork to a market characterized by great demand and small supply. Laird, Norton followed settlers across southern Dakota as they arrived on the trains. The eastern portions of Dakota were settled first, and thus early lumberyards were found there; as settlement moved west, so did the lumberyards. Beyond its all-important function of distribution, the railroad forced Laird, Norton to alter the very structure of its operation. Experimenting with nearly complete vertical integration, the company pioneered organizational models that would serve significant purposes as frontier America—a republic of wood—solidified itself economically and culturally.
Hapa Girl: A Memoir
May-lee Chai Temple University Press, 2008 Library of Congress F660.A1C38 2007 | Dewey Decimal 978.3004951
In the mid-1960s, Winberg Chai, a young academic and the son of Chinese immigrants, married an Irish-American artist. In Hapa Girl ("hapa" is Hawaiian for "mixed") their daughter tells the story of this loving family as they moved from Southern California to New York to a South Dakota farm by the 1980s. In their new Midwestern home, the family finds itself the object of unwelcome attention, which swiftly escalates to violence. The Chais are suddenly socially isolated and barely able to cope with the tension that arises from daily incidents of racial animosity, including random acts of cruelty.
May-lee Chai's memoir ends in China, where she arrives just in time to witness a riot and demonstrations. Here she realizes that the rural Americans' "fears of change, of economic uncertainty, of racial anxiety, of the unknowable future compared to the known past were the same as China's. And I realized finally that it had not been my fault."
For over 150 years the Lakota have tenaciously defended their culture and land against white miners, settlers, missionaries, and the U.S. Army, and paid the price. Their economy is in shambles and they face serious social issues, but their culture and outlook remain vibrant. Basketball has a role to play in the way that people on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation configure their hopes for a better future, and for pride in their community.
In Lakota Hoops, anthropologist Alan Klein trains his experienced eye on the ways that Lakota traditions find a seamless expression in the sport. In a variety of way such as weaving time-honored religious practices into the game or extending the warrior spirit of Crazy Horse to the players on the court, basketball has become a preferred way of finding continuity with the past. But the game is also well suited to the present and has become the largest regular gathering for all Lakota, promoting national pride as well as a venue for the community to creatively and aggressively confront white bigotry when needed.
Richly researched and filled with interviews with Pine Ridge residents, including both male and female players, Lakota Hoops offers a compelling look at the highs and lows of a community that has made basketball its own.
In No Place Like Home, Linda Hasselstrom ponders the changing nature of community in the modern West, where old family ranches are being turned into subdivisions and historic towns are evolving into mean, congested cities. Her scrutiny, like her life, moves back and forth between her ranch on the South Dakota prairie and her house in an old neighborhood at the edge of downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming. The vignettes that form the foundation of her consideration are drawn from the communities she has known during her life in the West, reflecting on how they have grown, thrived, failed, and changed, and highlighting the people and decisions that shaped them. Hasselstrom’s ruminations are both intensely personal and universal. She laments the disappearance of the old prairie ranches and the rural sense of community and mutual responsibility that sustained them, but she also discovers that a spirit of community can be found in unlikely places and among unlikely people. The book defines her idea of how a true community should work, and the kind of place she wants to live in. Her voice is unique and honest, both compassionate and cranky, full of love for the harsh, hauntingly beautiful short-grass prairie that is her home, and rich in understanding of the intricacies of the natural world around her and the infinite potentials of human commitment, hope, and greed. For anyone curious about the state of the contemporary West, Hasselstrom offers a report from the front, where nature and human aspirations are often at odds, and where the concepts of community and mutual responsibility are being redefined.
In a 1953 effort to end the authority of local Native American governments, Congress passed Public Law 83-280. Allowing states to apply their criminal and civil laws to Native American country, the law provided an unparalleled opportunity for the state of South Dakota to crush burgeoning Lakota nationalism.
Edward Valandra's Not Without Our Consent documents the tenacious and formidable Lakota resistance to attempts at applying this law. In unprecedented depth, it follows their struggle through the 1950s when, against all odds, their resistance succeeded in the amendment of PL 83-280 to include Native consent as a prerequisite to state jurisdiction. The various House and Senate bills discussed in the manuscript are reproduced in five appendices.
Based on interviews and life histories collected over more than twenty-five years of study on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, Marla N. Powers conveys what it means to be an Oglala woman. Despite the myth of the Euramerican that sees Oglala women as inferior to men, and the Lakota myth that seems them as superior, in reality, Powers argues, the roles of male and female emerge as complementary. In fact, she claims, Oglala women have been better able to adapt to the dominant white culture and provide much of the stability and continuity of modern tribal life. This rich ethnographic portrait considers the complete context of Oglala life—religion, economics, medicine, politics, old age—and is enhanced by numerous modern and historical photographs.
"It is a happy event when a fine scholarly work is rendered accessible to the general reader, especially so when none of the complexity of the subject matter is sacrificed. Oglala Women is a long overdue revisionary ethnography of Native American culture."—Penny Skillman, San Francisco Chronicle Review
"Marla N. Powers's fine study introduced me to Oglala women 'portrayed from the perspectives of Indians,' to women who did not pity themselves and want no pity from others. . . . A brave, thorough, and stimulating book."—Melody Graulich, Women's Review of Books
"Powers's new book is an intricate weaving . . . and her synthesis brings all of these pieces into a well-integrated and insightful whole, one which sheds new light on the importance of women and how they have adapted to the circumstances of the last century."—Elizabeth S. Grobsmith, Nebraska History
In 1933 the United States Office of Indian Affairs began a major reform of Indian policy, organizing tribal governments under the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act and turning over the administration of reservations to these new bodies. Organizing the Lakota considers the implementation of this act among the Lakota (Western Sioux or Teton Dakota) from 1933 through 1945.
Biolsi pays particular attention to the administrative means by which the OIA retained the power to design and implement tribal "self-government" as well as the power to control the flow of critical resources—rations, relief employment, credit—to the reservations. He also shows how this imbalance of power between the tribes and the federal bureaucracy influenced politics on the reservations, and argues that the crisis of authority faced by the Lakota tribal governments among their own would-be constituents—most dramatically demonstrated by the 1973 Wounded Knee occupation—is a direct result of their disempowerment by the United States.
This book is the powerful story of the ongoing struggle of indigenous
Americans in the twentieth century United States and of its shift in focus
from traditional battlefield and massacre sites to federal courtrooms
and the halls of Congress. The Politics of Hallowed Ground includes excerpts from the diary
kept by Mario Gonzalez, the attorney for the Sioux Nation in its struggle
for recognition of the Wounded Knee Massacre site as a national monument.
Gonzalez's personal record of the struggle is coupled with commentary
by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, a Native American writer who places the work in
its historical context. Together, the two voices will draw the reader
into far more than the continuing struggle of the Sioux people to achieve
The book covers Sioux history from before the Wounded Knee tragedy to
modern times, through the Sioux Nation's long and often rancorous dialogue
with the U.S. government over control of South Dakota's Black Hills, traditional
Sioux lands recognized by treaty in 1877 and never forfeited or sold.
After reading a 13-year-old survivor's narrative of what happened at Wounded
Knee and the list of the dead and wounded, readers will find it difficult
not to share the Sioux perspective.
"Provocative and compelling with its raw incisive written commentary
by a man who is trained as a lawyer but still views his world through
tribal lenses." -- Leonard R. Bruguier, Director of the Institute
of American Indian Studies, University of South Dakota
"By far the most moving, most compelling book I have read about
the Sioux and their ongoing struggle to come to grips with history. Gonzalez
and Cook-Lynn let us see the gut-wrenching realities that people who work
to make a difference face." - Robert Allen Warrior, author of Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions
Between 1900 and 1915, in the last great land rush, over one hundred thousand homesteaders flooded into the west river country of South Dakota, a land noted for its aridity and unpredictable weather, its treelessness, and its endless sky. The settlers of “the last, best west” weathered their first crisis in the severe drought of 1910-1911, which winnowed out many of the speculators and faint of heart; they abandoned their founding hopes of quick success and substituted a new ethos of “next year country”—while this year was hard, next year would be better, an ironic phrase at once optimistic and fatalistic.
“Next year,” however, was in many of those years not better. The collapse of the agricultural economy in the immediate aftermath of the boom years of World War I set in motion a pattern of regional decline amid national prosperity and cultural change: the rise of radio and mass culture increased rural folks' awareness of national trends and tastes, a development which paradoxically increased their own sense of remoteness and isolation. The failure of the farm economy to recover to any substantial degree in the twenties caused a less dramatic but cumulatively greater impact on the west river country's population and prospects—a second great crisis.
The Great Depression and the dustbowl years of the thirties were the greatest test of the west river people. The drought of 1910-1911, heretofore seen as the benchmark of bad times, faded even in the remembrances of the original pioneers in the face of the thirties' relentless drought, grasshoppers, blowing dust, and the accompanying starvation, struggle, and despair. The Depression in the west river country was a blast furnace from which a hardened yet still hopeful people emerged, scathed but undefeated. The Prairie Winnows Out Its Own is the voice of this experience.
That Guy Wolf Dancing
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn Michigan State University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3553.O5548T47 2014 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
From one of the writers of the twentieth-century Native American Literary Renaissance comes a remarkable tale about how to acknowledge the past and take a chance on the future. Rooted in tribal-world consciousness, That Guy Wolf Dancing is the story of a young tribal wolf-man becoming a part of his not-sonatural world of non-tribal people. Twenty-something Philip Big Pipe disappears from an unsettled life he can hardly tolerate and ends up in an off-reservation town. When he leaves, he doesn’t tell anyone where he is going or what his plans, if he has any, might be. Having never taken himself too seriously, he now faces a world that feels very foreign to him. As he struggles to adapt to the modern universe, Philip, ever a “wolf dancer,” must improvise, this time to a sound others provide for him. Like the wolf, Philip sometimes feels hunted, outrun, verging on extinction. Only by moving rhythmically in a dissident, dangerous, and iconic world can Philip Big Pipe let go of the past and craft a new future.