Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation

An exploration of the ethnicity and dispossession at Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation.

This paper examines how the history of the Native American is fraught with attempts to assimilate and with acts of dispossession and how the indigenous culture is multi-faceted. It looks at how Melissa Meyer, in her book, `The White Earth Tragedy`, argues that Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation of the Anishinaabe, or Chippewa, could have been an experimental showcase for assimilation, how the Dawes Act went awry, and how the Anishinaabe were dispossessed of their land and its resources.
The Anishinaabe people were originally composed of a number of bands whose migratory habits brought them into contact with one another only on occasion. The introduction of settlers or Euroamericans (mainly French) into the area brought yet another element into their society. By the end of the nineteenth century there existed two major factions among the Chippewa of Minnesota: those of mixed blood and full blood conservatives. The Metis or mixed blood members of the tribe were interested in following the course set down by the government. They advocated assimilation and the inclusion of Western marketing. The conservatives, on the other hand, thought to preserve the integrity of the old ways by following the cultural agenda of tradition.

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