Cover image for Uphill against water : the great Dakota water war
Uphill against water : the great Dakota water war
Carrels, Peter, 1953-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 238 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TC424.S8 C37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In Uphill against Water , Peter Carrels examines the history of Missouri River water development projects in general and describes the struggle over one of the largest of those projects, South Dakota's Oahe irrigation project, in detail. Opposition to the Oahe project was intense and well organized. After four years of bitter competition, an energetic and resourceful grassroots group, United Family Farmers, wrested control of the Oahe conservancy district board, a government agency that had been an ardent supporter of the irrigation project. That political triumph led to the only victory in the West by a grassroots group over the Bureau of Reclamation and the irrigation and business establishment.

Author Notes

Peter Carrels is a writer in Aberdeen, South Dakota. His writing about Missouri River issues and history has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and books.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Carrels offers a detailed description of the conflict among various interests impacted by federal water projects in the US as perceived by opponents of an irrigation project. The setting for the episode, which extended over 40 years from the 1940s until the 1980s, is the northern region of South Dakota between the Missouri River, which flows through the center of the state, almost to the state line between South Dakota and Minnesota. The book relates the history of Oahe Dam on the Missouri River and associated water projects, and focuses on the citizen opposition to the Oahe Irrigation Project as led by a grassroots organization, United Family Farmers. The episode placed farmers--for whom the irrigation project was to be built and who opposed the project--against local city interests, newspapers, assorted state politicians including a governor, the federal agencies, and the US Senator and a presidential candidate from South Dakota. Carrels focuses on the momentum of projects organized by the US Bureau of Reclamation and the subsequent resistance of local citizens. A must read for those interested in community activism, grassroots political movements, and the conflict between the power of government and ordinary citizens. A book for libraries serving the general public, high schools, and college undergraduates. L. H. Stevenson McNeese State University