Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

William Bauer

Second Committee Member

Andrew Kirk

Third Committee Member

P. Jane Hafen

Fourth Committee Member

Maria Raquel Casas

Fifth Committee Member

Bradley Shreve

Number of Pages



Framed by histories of Lakotas in the twentieth century, American Indian Activism, and the “long civil rights movement,” this dissertation seeks to provide new perspectives on the American Indian civil rights movement. Although the United States government removed Lakotas from western Nebraska in the late nineteenth century, some returned to a portion of their homeland, settling and working in the border town of Gordon and the region’s two largest towns, Alliance and Scottsbluff, in the twentieth century. Between 1917 and 2000, Lakotas living in off reservation communities in western Nebraska created a grassroots reform movement, whose goals differed from the national and pan-Indian civil rights movement. Although many were enrolled tribal members of the Oglala or Sičháŋğu Lakota Nations, Lakotas in western Nebraska were more concerned with ending segregation and racism in their communities than explicitly addressing tribal sovereignty. Lakota leaders not only fought to end discrimination, but also for the federal government to continue providing its trust responsibilities to Lakotas in western Nebraska. This dissertation reveals that American Indian civil rights’ origins are more diverse than being rooted in national American Indian organizations. The movement that arose in western Nebraska provides an example of American Indian activism that developed in a rural off reservation region.


American Indians; Civil Rights; Federal Indian Policy; Great Plains; North American West; Off Reservation


History | Indigenous Studies | United States History

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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