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Reviewed by:
  • Welcome to the Oglala Nation: A Documentary Reader in Oglala Lakota Political History ed. by Akim D. Reinhardt
  • Margaret Huettl
Welcome to the Oglala Nation: A Documentary Reader in Oglala Lakota Political History.
Edited by Akim D. Reinhardt. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015. xi + 264 pp. Appendixes, map, notes, glossary and pronunciation guide, bibliographic essay, index. $60.00 cloth.

Welcome to the Oglala Nation: A Documentary Reader in Oglala Lakota Political History is more than a documentary reader. Through a combination of primary documents, historical narrative, and historiography, Akim Reinhardt provides a comprehensive overview of more than 500 years of Oglala Lakota political history. The book consists of three parts: a syncretic essay covering the expanse of Oglala history from time immemorial to the present day, a collection of sixty primary documents, and a bibliographic essay. Throughout, Reinhardt tells the story of Lakota actions, not merely their reactions to United States power.

Reinhardt demonstrates Oglala political agency within the context of US colonial efforts to diminish Lakota power and to appropriate lands and resources. He weaves the larger context of federal policies such as allotment, the Indian Reorganization Act, and self-determination into an Oglala-centered history. From the ancient Oceti Sakowin (Seven Councils Fire) to the patchwork reservations of today, the Oglala Lakota have persisted. The 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee was not an endpoint, and the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee was not an outsider-generated aberration. They were part of a continuum of Lakota experiences with colonialism and political action.

The documents span the same broad chronology as the narrative and include oral history, treaties, US legislation, and Oglala council minutes. All but eight originate in the twentieth century or later, a function of Reinhardt's focus on colonialism. Reinhardt curated the documents to allow readers to realize the ways that Lakota leadership, culture, and choices—not merely federal policy—shaped the Oglala Lakota political landscape.

Welcome to the Oglala Nation transgresses the declension narrative that appears in so much of the literature about Native American history. Instead, Reinhardt leaves readers with a deep understanding of Lakota history and sovereignty as unbroken and ongoing. Moreover, the Oglala people are at the center of this text. Although Reinhardt appears a bit dismissive of oral tradition—referring to sacred histories as "supernatural" and privileging Western valuations of knowledge—he centers Lakota perspectives in both the historical narrative and the documents (2). Reinhardt deliberately uses Lakota names and terms rather than defaulting to more familiar translations, and the first sources are an oral history of the Oceti Sakowin recorded by an ethnographer and transcriptions of Oglala winter counts, ushering readers into Oglala political history via Lakota worldviews. As Reinhardt reminds his readers, stories matter, and so does the way that we tell them. [End Page 323]

Reinhardt succeeds in presenting a dynamic version of Lakota political history. He demonstrates the power of considering colonialism through the lens of Indigenous agency and persistence. He has compiled an excellent resource not only for students and scholars of Lakota history but also on the politics and processes of writing history more generally.

Margaret Huettl
Department of History University of Nebraska–Lincoln


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