Title

Sudsy Sovereignty: Work, Labor and Power on the Pacific Slope

Document Type

Article

Abstract

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Indigenous people in the Pacific Slope—California, Oregon, and Washington—worked in the hops industry. After the Civil War, the cultivation of hops, one of the principal ingredients used to make beer, moved from the Midwest to California, Oregon, and Washington to take advantage of developing urban transportation networks, a long growing season, and good soils. Native workers erected hop poles, trained vines, picked hops, and transported the crop to urban distribution centers. In return for their labor, Native peoples earned cash wages, which they used to compensate for poorly provisioned reservations. In addition to earning cash wages, Indigenous people used hop picking to establish credentials for leaders, participate in social activities banned on reservations, and create kinship bonds. Hops and the food product it made—beer—were not used to undermine American Indian power on the Pacific Slope; American Indians used hops and beer to reclaim what had been lost during the colonization of the Pacific Slope and to articulate their sovereignty.