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Conclusion Of course, the process of mapping America did not stop with Gouverneur Warren’s map. Despite the Pawnees’ refusal to let Deputy Surveyor Manners continue his work in 1855, the General Land Office pressed on with its mission to divide the trans-Missouri West into multiples (and divisions) of the 640-acre section. Land grants to railroads and settlers and a federal policy that restricted Indians to reservations continued to undermine Indian land tenure, changing not only territorial control but also the region’s names. Yet, these changes, too, happened within a context of contestation and negotiation. Between 1864 and 1876, for example, hundreds of Pawnees (mostly Skidi) helped protect the survey crews of the Union Pacific Railroad. Their service was so valuable that, in 1870, the Nebraska State Legislature passed a joint resolution thanking them “for the heroic manner in which they have assisted in driving hostile Indians from our frontier settlements.” As with previous alliances with the United States, however, the Pawnees had their own reasons for joining the Americans. This furthers my argument that people have multiple ways of making and remembering places. It is easy, for example, to imagine the cultural importance that Plum Creek, Nebraska, gained among the tribe after 35 Pawnee Scouts defeated Turkey Leg and 150 of his Cheyenne warriors there in 1867.1 For those Pawnees who participated in this battle, fruits were no longer the primary ingredients in place making; warfare was. Places are never static but are constantly being reassessed, reimagined, and reformed.2 228 / conclusion Herein lies the fundamental premise of this book. The story of how the West was drawn is not a singular narrative. Examined from the postcolonial viewpoint of a twenty-first-century academician, it is relatively easy to dismiss the mapping of the trans-Mississippi West as simply an “imperial construction of U.S. national space.”3 This model limits our understanding of the past. For example, the 1833 treaty between leaders from the four bands of Pawnees and U.S. government representatives resulted in the United States’ appropriation of a large part of what became Kansas and Nebraska. We must remember, however, that for ten years following the treaty, such a negotiation appeared to be an astute political maneuver. In exchange for the ineffable claim of “ownership,” Indian leaders received promises of protection from a growing power in the region and the continued sociopolitical esteem of controlling American gifts and payments. Had the United States lived up to its promises of protection, our stories of both Pawnees and the region might be quite different. The importance of such an understanding goes beyond academic “what ifs.” The Lakotas’ struggle over the Black Hills exemplifies the importance of Indian participation in the cartographic construction of thetrans-MississippiWest.The1851TreatyofFortLaramiethatinscribed Lakota control of the Black Hills and the surrounding region became the basis for the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation, established at the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Over the next twenty years, the United States illegally claimed portions of the reservation, disregarding the boundaries it had created with Lakota leaders. In 1980, after a century of legal wrangling, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Indian Claims Commission’s award of $102 million for the Lakotas—the largest sum ever awarded to an Indian tribe—for the illegal taking of the Black Hills. The Lakotas rejected the settlement, arguing that only the return of the Black Hills would right the wrongs of the past. By 2007, interest on the award increased the total due the Lakotas to $750 million.4 Although much of the public debate surrounding the return of the land to the Lakotas has been about their spiritual connection to the Black Hills, the Supreme Court’s decision was based solely on the federal government’s violation of the 1868 treaty.5 In fact, as a Supreme Court decision became more likely in the late 1970s, the Black Hills Alliance, a group of Lakota and rural white activists, highlighted this fact in their publicity materials.6 A lapel button produced by the group shows the same state boundaries for which Aaron Carapella was so maligned in his map of Native people. conclusion / 229 The political capital that the Lakotas have gained from the Supreme Court’s decision has not precluded projects that focus on a Lakotaspecific understanding of the Black Hills.7 One could argue that the legal fight for the return of the Black Hills has been foundational for contemporary Lakota identity...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781496208019
Related ISBN
9780803249301
MARC Record
OCLC
1038068511
Pages
402
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-13
Language
English
Open Access
No
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