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Organizing the Lakota
The Political Economy of the New Deal on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations
By Thomas Biolsi
244 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 1998
Paper (978-0-8165-1885-2) [s]
Related Interest
  - Indigenous and Native American Studies

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
The work is consistent with much criticism of the IRA published in the last decade, but also makes references to more recent work on the revitalization of some aspects of Native American self-sufficiency. . . . An excellent study.


It is a must read for anyone interested in tribal response to internal colonialism, federal efforts to implement the Indian Reorganization Act and simultaneously maintain a preeminent position with respect to tribal autonomy, and internal tribal politics.

—Great Plains Research

A fascinating, perceptive, and provocative analysis.

—American Historical Review

One of the strengths of this carefully crafted book lies in its fine-grained detail and data-driven, well-supported reasoning. It revitalizes the enduring conundrum of federal-tribal relations with fresh insights gleaned from contemporary anthropology.

—Plains Anthropologist

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.

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