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

Karen V. Hansen


In 1904, Scandinavian settlers began moving onto the Spirit Lake Dakota Indian Reservation. These land-hungry first and second generation immigrants struggled with a poverty nearly as severe as that of their Dakota neighbors. Yet the homesteaders’ impoverishment did not impede native dispossession: by 1929, Scandinavians owned more reservation land than did Dakotas. In the words of Helena Haugen Kanten, who staked a claim with her widowed mother in 1905: “We stole the land from the Indians.” How did this extraordinary, largely unknown encounter between Dakota people and Scandinavian immigrants ... More

Keywords: Spirit Lake Dakotas, Sioux, Indian reservation, Scandinavian immigration, homesteading, land taking, Native dispossession, oral history, cultural logics, citizenship, coexistence, Sisseton-Wahpetons, Ihanktonwannas

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199746811
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199746811.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Karen V. Hansen, author
Brandeis University