Synopses & Reviews
The Menominee Indians, or "wild rice people," have lived for thousands of years in the region that is now called Wisconsin and are the oldest Native American community that still lives there. But the Menominee's struggle for survival and rights to their land has been long and hard.and#160;David R. M. Beck draws on interviews with tribal members, stories recorded by earlier researchers, and exhaustive archival research to give us a full account of the Menominee's early history. Beginning in the seventeenth century, the Menominee's traditional way of life was intensely pressured by a succession of outsiders. Native nations attacked other Native nations, forcing their dislocation, and Europeans introduced the fur trade to the area, disrupting the traditional economy and way of life. In the nineteenth century Anglo-Americans poured into the Old Northwest and surrounded the Menominee; as a result the Menominee people were confined to a reservation in 1854.and#160;Beck examines these crucial early events from an ethnohistorical perspective, adding Menominee voices to the story and showing how numerous individuals and leaders in the trading era and later worked diligently to survive. The story is a complicated one: some Menominees encouraged radical cultural change, while othersand#8212;as well as some non-Menomineesand#8212;aided the community in its struggle to maintain traditions. Beck provides the most complete written history to date of this enduring Indian nation.
Drawing on meticulous archival research and a close working relationship with the Menominee Historic Preservation Department, David R. M. Beck picks up where his earlier work, Siege and Survival: History of the Menominee Indians, 1634and#8211;1856, ended. The Struggle for Self-Determination begins with the establishment of a small reservation in the Menominee homeland in northeastern Wisconsin at a time when the Menominee economic, political, and social structure came under aggressive assault. For the next hundred years the tribe attempted to regain control of its destiny, enduring successive policy attacks by governmental, religious, and local business sources.and#160;The Menomineeand#8217;s rich forests became a battleground on which they refused to cede control to the U.S. government. The struggle climaxed in the mid-twentieth century when the federal government terminated its relationship with the tribe. Throughout this time the Menominee fought to maintain their connection to their past and to regain control of their future. The lessons they learned helped them through their greatest modern disasterand#8212;terminationand#8212;and enabled them to reconstruct a government and a reservation as the twentieth century drew to a close. The Struggle for Self-Determination reinterprets that story and includes the viewpoint of the Menominee in the telling of it.
In 1855 the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw tribes of Oregon signed the Empire Treaty with the United States, which would have provided them rights as federally acknowledged tribes with formal relationships with the U.S. government. The treaty, however, was never ratified by Congress; in fact, the federal government lost the document. Tribal leaders spent the next century battling to overcome their quasi-recognized status, receiving some federal services for Indians but no compensation for the land and resources they lost. In 1956 the U.S. government officially terminated their tribal status as part of a national effort to eliminate the governmentand#8217;s relationship with Indian tribes. These tribes vehemently opposed termination yet were not consulted in this action.and#160;In Seeking Recognition, David R. M. Beck examines the termination and eventual restoration of the Confederated Tribes at Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw some thirty years later, in 1984. Within this historical context, the termination and restoration of the tribes take on new significance. These actions did not take place in a historical vacuum but were directly connected with the history of the tribeand#8217;s efforts to gain U.S. government recognition from the very beginning of their relations.
In City Indian
, Rosalyn R. LaPier and David R. M. Beck tell the engaging story of American Indian men and women who migrated to Chicago from across America. From the 1893 Worldand#8217;s Columbian Exposition to the 1934 Century of Progress Fair, American Indians in Chicago voiced their opinions about political, social, educational, and racial issues.
and#160;City Indian focuses on the privileged members of the American Indian community in Chicago who were doctors, nurses, business owners, teachers, and entertainers. During the Progressive Era, more than at any other time in the cityand#8217;s history, they could be found in the company of politicians and society leaders, at Chicagoand#8217;s major cultural venues and events, and in the press, speaking out. When Mayor and#8220;Big Billand#8221; Thompson declared that Chicago public schools teach and#8220;America First,and#8221; American Indian leaders publicly challenged him to include the true story of and#8220;First Americans.and#8221; As they struggled to reshape nostalgic perceptions of American Indians, these men and women developed new associations and organizations to help each other and to ultimately create a new place to call home in a modern American city.
About the Author
Rosalyn R. LaPier is an assistant professor in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Montana. David R. M. Beck is a professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana. He is the author of several books, including Seeking Recognition: The Termination and Restoration of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siulaw Indians, 1855and#8211;1984 (Nebraska, 2009) and The Struggle for Self-Determination: Menominee Indian History since 1854 (Nebraska, 2005).