Cover image for Siege and survival : history of the Menominee Indians, 1634-1856
Siege and survival : history of the Menominee Indians, 1634-1856
Beck, David, 1956-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxi, 294 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
The Menominee world before invasion -- Menominee country becomes a trading frontier -- Sovereign alliances -- Diminishing fur trade and illegal treaties -- Menominee resources under siege -- "Civilizing" influences -- A dissolving tribal economy -- Intensifying encroachments -- The battle for a homeland -- Reclaiming a piece of the homeland -- Siege and survival.
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Table of contents
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E99.M44 B43 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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. 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. 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 others--as well as some non-Menominees--aided the community in its struggle to maintain traditions. Beck provides the most complete written history to date of this enduring Indian nation.

Author Notes

David R. M. Beck is a professor of Native American studies at the University of Montana. He is the author of The Chicago American Indian Community, 1893-1988: Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Sources in Chicago .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Using interviews and incisive ethnohistorical techniques, Beck (Univ. of Montana) has crafted the best interpretive study of the Menominees from earliest French contact through the beginning years of reservation life. An initial chapter of this laudatory view of Menominee cultural resilience describes the material culture and ceremonialism of these "wild rice people" before European "invasion." Their worldview was tested by the new demands of French traders and missionaries. A cycle of strong leadership, cultural resilience, and resourceful adaptation served the tribe well throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, as members engaged in commercial and military alliances with other tribes, the French, and, after 1763, the British. During the American Revolution, some Menominees supported British efforts, but the majority wisely remained neutral. Unfortunately, factional differences were accentuated during the first half of the 19th century, as Americans brought greater pressures on the people's customs and tribal land base. This relatively small population withstood the siege and found ways to use core cultural values to maintain themselves as a distinct people. This well-documented and emotionally moving account offers further proof of what historian Richard White has termed the "middle ground," in which some Great Lakes tribes skillfully positioned themselves to deal with encroaching societies. Summing Up: Essential. All public and university libraries. M. L. Tate University of Nebraska at Omaha

Table of Contents

1 The Menominee World Before Invasionp. 1
2 Menominee Country Becomes a Trading Frontierp. 25
3 Sovereign Alliancesp. 48
4 Diminishing Fur Trade and Illegal Treatiesp. 73
5 Menominee Resources Under Siegep. 96
6 "civilizing" Influencesp. 117
7 A Dissolving Tribal Economyp. 142
8 Intensifying Encroachmentsp. 159
9 The Battle for a Homelandp. 174
10 Reclaiming a Piece of the Homelandp. 187
11 Siege and Survivalp. 201
Notesp. 211
Bibliographyp. 261
Indexp. 279