North Dakota Eclectics

Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869-1933

Established in 1824, the United States Indian Service (USIS) later became the Bureau of Indian Affairs. USIS was the agency charged with carrying out United States treaty and trust obligations to the Native Americans, but it also sought to “civilize” and assimilate them. Cathleen Cahill, in her book, offers an in-depth social history of the agency during the height of its assimilation efforts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Deadliest Enemies: Law and Race Relations on and off Rosebud Reservation

The author, Thomas Biolsi, argues that many of the problems faced by Native Americans today are the result of white privilege. He connects the origins of racial tension between Indians and non-Indians on the South Dakota Rosebud Reservation to to federal laws, and demonstrates how the court system has created opposing political interests along racial lines, and how its definitions of legal rights (constitutional and treaty rights) make solutions to racial problems difficult.

The Rosebud Indian Reservation is the home of the federally recognized Sicangu Oyate (Upper Brulé Nation) and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, a branch of the Lakota people. The Rosebud Indian Reservation was established in 1889 when the United States government partitioned the Great Sioux Reservation.
Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930

The first Scandinavian settlers moved onto the Spirit Lake Dakota Indian Reservation in 1904. These immigrants often struggled with severe poverty, and often became sharecropping tenants of Dakota landowners. Yet, they kept coming, and they were hungry for land. By 1929, the Scandinavians owned more land on the reservation than the Dakotas did. Helena Haugen Kanten, a Norwegian homesteader, said, "We stole the land from the Indians."

This is the story told by author, Karen V. Hansen. Drawing on fifteen years of archival research and oral histories, Hansen examines the issues of coexistence between the Indians and the settlers, the effects of racial hierarchies on marginalized peoples, and the intertwined stories of Dakotas and immigrant men and women, farmers, domestic servants, and day laborers. The author points out also, that both the Dakotas and settlers resisted assimilation, and used their rights as new citizens to fight attacks on their cultures.
Early Fur Trade on the Northern Plains: Canadian Traders Among the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians, 1738-1818

Long before they had any contact with European-Americans, the Mandan and Hidatsa villages along the Missouri River, in what is now North Dakota, had established a lucrative intertribal trade network. Early white fur traders, learning of this network, were drawn to them. Contact with the Canadian traders had a profound effect upon the tribes, for it introduced Euro-American culture and trade goods that would lead to the extinction of their way of life.

Good documentation exists for the dealings between the Mandans and Hidatsas, and the white traders, from 1790 to 1806, and W. Raymond Wood and Thomas D. Thiessen makes use of this.
The Time of the Buffalo

Buffalo once roamed from Alaska to the Carolinas in numbers that couldn't be counted. Combining field research on live herds with a study of the historical records, Tom McHugh offers a closeup of the buffalo's habits, life cycle, and patterns of behavior, mating, calving, stampedes, play, and aggression. He discussed the use that the animal played in the lives of the Plains Indians, who hunted buffalo for food, clothing, and shelter, endowing it with spirit, and how the Europeans looked upon the buffalo with awe at first, but then as a source of plunder and sport, nearly exterminating the species and destroying all of the Plains cultures in the process.
Myths and Traditions of the Arikara Indians (Sources of American Indian Oral Literature)

When Europeans first encountered the Arikara Indians, they found them to be a settled and well-organized people who could be either firm friends or fearsome enemies. Up until the late 18th century, the Arikaras were one of the largest and most powerful tribes on the Northern Plains. Closely related to the Pawnees, the Arikaras lived along the middle Missouri River for centuries, but today they are all but confined to the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.

Edited by Douglas R. Parks, this collection translates Arikara myths, tales, and stories into idiomatic English. It includes myths of ancient times, legends of supernatural power bestowed on selected individuals, historical accounts, and anecdotes told by Arikaras, including stories that were known to be fiction by the Arikara people.

Custer's Scouts at the Little Bighorn: The Arikara Narrative of the Campaign Against the Hostile Dakotas, June 1876

Told by Sitting Bear, Young Hawk, Red Bear, Boy Chief, Red Star, Running Wolf, Little Sioux, Strikes Two, and Goes Ahead, Custer's Scouts is one of the most important source documents for a study of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last Stand. The Arikara Narrative is an account of the event told by those who were there, and survived it, namely the Arikara who were serving as scouts in Custer's army.

George Armstrong Custer rode to the Little Bighorn with forty Arikara scouts, among others. Of this group, nine were interviewed about the events in 1912. Their accounts were carefully translated and published in 1920, and is here being made available in a Kindle edition.

A paperback edition is also available.
The Arikara War: The First Plains Indian War, 1823

The Arikara War took place in August of 1823. In response to an attack on a trapping expedition traveling along the Missouri River, the United States Army attacked the Arikara people who were living near the river in what later became South Dakota. U.S. forces included 230 soldiers, 750 Sioux, and 50 trappers, under the command of Colonel Henry Leavenworth.

Although brief, the Arikara War is significant because it was the first military conflict between the United States and a Native American tribe in the West, and because it set the tone for future encounters. Leavenworth did not completely annihilate the Arikaris, and his leniency sparked a debate between Americans who advocated the subjugation of Native tribes and those who argued for cohabitation. The Arikaras were eventually settled on the Fort Berthold Reservation, along with the Mandan and the Hidatsa.
Traditions of the Arikara

This reprint of a classic written by George Amos Dorsey in 1903 documents Arikara traditions that were collected by James R. Murie, of the Skidi band of Pawnee, through a grant by the Carnegie Institution, and part of a systematic study of the mythology and ceremonies of the various tribes of the Caddoan stock, which includes the Pawnee. At the time that the book was compiled, the Arikara had been assembled on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, along with the Mandan and Hidatsa.
The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Lifeways, Edited and Illustrated

Authored by George Bird Grinnell, and edited by Joseph A. Fitzgerald, the book gives an account of the last of the Cheyenne Indians, who were forced to live out their lives as nomads. George Bird Grinnell offers an intimate look at the Cheyenne culture of the 1800s, presenting them as they were, real people with real lives, trials, ambitions, games, and beliefs.
A Cheyenne Voice: The Complete John Stands in Timber Interviews

Part of the Civilization of the American Indian Series, the book includes the transcribed interviews conducted by anthropologist Margot Liberty with Northern Cheyenne elder John Stands in Timber, recorded while she was a schoolteacher on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.

During the interviews, Stands in Timber relates a range of topics that cover traditional stories, historical events, and details about Cheyenne tradition, warfare, ceremony, and everyday life. Along with the word-for-word transcripts, the book includes photographs and a set of maps showing the movements by soldiers and warriors at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, drawn by Stands in Timber himself.
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians

Available only from third-party sellers, this is the text of a report from a Mr. Kyle that was referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs on June 6, 1900, and ordered to be printed. Mr. Kyle presented these papers relative to an agreement with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in North Dakota.
The People Named the Chippewa: Narrative Histories

Gerald Vizenor recounts the experiences of the woodland tribal people known as the Chippewa as they met missionaries, capitalists, government bureaucrats, and anthropologists, making use of memoirs, court testimony, and other sources of tribal history, but his emphasis on imagination encourages the read to imagine what it would be like to be living among them, and in another time.

The author, Gerald Vizenor, is a mixed-blood member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.
The Way of the Warrior: Stories of the Crow People

Edited by Phenocia Bauerle, and translated by Henry Old Coyote and Barney Old Coyote Jr., Crow elders tell their favorite stories of the exploits of memorable Crow leaders from years past, including Rabbit Child, who rushes to his fate in order to keep a sacred vow, and the rise to power and revenge of Red Bear, one of the most spiritually powerful Crow leaders.

The story tellers who are represented in this volume recounted these tales to the two Crow brothers, who recorded, transcribed, and translated the accounts into English. These accounts were then edited and published by Barney's granddaughter, Phenocia Bauerle.
From the Heart of the Crow Country: The Crow Indians' Own Stories

The world of the Crow Indians comes to life in this collection of stories from Joseph Medicine Crow, a respected elder and storyteller. Raised by traditional grandparents, Medicine Crow would listen to the stories that his grandfather and other elders told during sweat baths while he was a child, and learned about the Indian wars from White Man Runs Him, one of Custer's scouts.

Filled with historical accounts, biographical sketches of significant Crow leaders, traditional stories, and personal observations, the book will prove valuable to anyone with an interest in these people.
Honor the Grandmothers: Dakota and Lakota Women Tell Their Stories

In this collection of oral histories assembled by Sarah Penman, four Indian elders recount their life stories. Stella Pretty Sounding Flute, who grew up in Minnesota and the Dakotas, is joined by Iola Columbus (Dakota) and Celane Not Help Him, and Cecelia Hernandez Montgomery (Lakota), who share their recollections of their early family life, which was interrupted by years in government boarding schools, but who survived to reconcile urban with reservation life, Christianity with Native spirituality, and to become activists in Indian politics.

One of the grandmothers gives a detailed family account of the events and consequences of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.
The Sioux: The Dakota and Lakota Nations

Written by Guy Gibbon, the book covers the historical range of the Sioux, from their emergence as an identifiable group in late prehistory to the year 2000. An expert in Sioux history, Gibbon raised questions about Sioux history while discussing the historical and anthropological research over a wide scope of issues and periods, and he offers historical sketches and imaginary reconstructions of events in order to encourage his readers to a better understanding of the Sioux people. Also included are photographs and suggestions for further reading.

The book covers the Lakota, which are the better known Western Sioux of the Plains region, as well as the lesser known forest-dwelling Eastern Dakota, who originated in the Minnesota area.
Lakota Dictionary

Eugene Buechel's dictionary of the Lakota language contains more than thirty thousand entries, which have been organized to follow a standard dictionary format, offering a range of features: Lakota-to English and English-to-Lakota, a grouping of principal parts of verbs, translations of all examples of Lakota word usage, the syllabification of each entry word, pronunciations, and an overview of Lakota grammar.

The Lakota Dictionary should serve as an essential resource for anyone interested in preserving, speaking, or writing in the Lakota language.
Hidatsa Social and Ceremonial Organization

This study of the Hidatsas, an important horticultural Plains Indian tribe, synthesizes the material that Alfred W. Bowers recorded in the early 1930s from the last generation of Hidatsas who lived in the historic village of Like-a-Fishhook. The book is a documentary record of the tribe's 19th century life, which includes personal and ritual narratives of Hidatsa elders, who articulate their conceptions of traditional culture.
Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People

The book by Elizabeth A. Fenn concerns the Mandan Indians, who were Plains people whose busy towns along the Upper Missouri River were the center of the North American universe for centuries. European-Americans first learned of them when Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1804-1805 with them. In Encounters at the Heart of the World, Fenn pieces together new discoveries in archaeology, anthropology, geology, climatology, epidemiology, and nutritional science to give us a larger view of the Mandan people.

By 1500, more than twelve thousand Mandans were living on the Northern Plains, and their commercial prowess, agricultural skills, and reputation for hospitality became famous. Recent discoveries show how they thrived, and how they then collapsed through damage brought be diseases such as smallpox, and the havoc that accompanied horses and steamboats.
Mandan Social and Ceremonial Organization

Long before the Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered in the Northern Plains, the Mandan Indians were farming along the banks of rivers. Their traditions and lifestyle is brought to life in this account by anthropologist Alfred W. Bowers. Based on years of research and conversations with Crows Heart and ten other Mandan men and women, Bowers reconstructs the way of life of the Mandans in earlier times, including overviews of how their households functioned, the makeup of their clan and kinship network, and their life cycles, from birth and naming, through adulthood, marriage, and death.

Descriptions of Mandan ceremonies, legends and religious beliefs, including origin myths, the Okipa Ceremony, sacred bundles, corn ceremonies, the Eagle-Trapping Ceremony, Catfish-Trapping Ceremony, and the Adoption Pipe Ceremony, many of which remain part of Mandan life today.

Of Interest