This article argues that the Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) field nursing program of the 1930s, which continued much of the same assimilation-style health care practices begun generations earlier by missionaries and field matrons, perpetuated the nineteenth-century link between religion and health care. Following in the footsteps of their female predecessors, field nurses targeted native women for health education, emphasizing personal hygiene and individual responsibility at the expense of socioeconomic causes of illness. Native women nonetheless appear to have maintained agency and power in negotiating health and health care. Peaking during the era of OIA Commissioner John Collier's Indian New Deal, the history of field nursing problematizes this period, particularly with regard to women's experiences. The article is significant for its exploration of field nursing as a contested site of cultural negotiation, revealing issues of power and difference in the lives of American women.


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pp. 113-137
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