Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

William Bauer

Second Committee Member

Andy Kirk

Third Committee Member

P. Jane Hafen

Fourth Committee Member

David Tanenhaus

Fifth Committee Member

Carolee Dodge-Francis

Number of Pages



Anishinaabeg Peoples maintained sovereignty via peoplehood in the context of Settler colonial programs intended to confine and ultimately eliminate Indigenous sovereignty and identity. Although scholars have usually considered the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—defined by confinement, dispossession, and marginalization—as the nadir of Indian history, I explore the persistence of Anishinaabe sovereignty. Eschewing race and nationhood, ways of thinking embedded in Western European epistemologies, I rely on “peoplehood,” a theory developed by American Indian Studies scholars, to articulate Ojibwe sovereignty. Anishinaabeg, like many of the names Native Americans use to identify themselves, means “the people.” Inherent in peoplehood is sovereignty, which can be understood as a matrix of living relationships with language, land, sacred history, ceremonial cycles, and kinship. Looking west from the center of the expansive Anishinaabewaki homeland, I use as case studies the Lac Courte Oreilles People in Wisconsin, the St. Peter’s or Peguis People in Manitoba, and the Turtle Mountain People in North Dakota. These three Anishinaabe Peoples allow me to consider Anishinaabe peoplehood in a variety of contexts that not only span colonial state borders but also reserve and reservation boundaries. My dissertation explores peoplehood through the themes of explore treaty making, economic continuity and change, the question of who belongs as one of the People, rights to the land and its resources, nation-building politics, and the continued importance of treaties and reserved rights. By focusing on the period between 1854 and 1954, a period that scholars generally consider dark days of degeneration and dependency, I suggest an alternative configuration for how scholars understand the relationships between United States and Canadian policies and Indigenous peoples in a period of confinement and attempted erasure. An examination of western Anishinaabewaki reveals not a narrative of decline but rather one of dynamic sovereignty.


American history; Anishinaabe; Canadian history; First Nations; North American West


History | Indigenous Studies

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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