Immigrants as settler colonists: boundary work between Dakota Indians and white immigrant settlers

Karen V. Hansen*, Chih-Yan SUN, Debra Osnowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


With territorial expansion of the US came dispossession of Native Americans, supported by policies that made white immigrants settler colonists. On Indian reservations, the federal government encouraged land-taking by allotting land to Indians and making land available to homesteaders, many of them recent immigrants. Few scholars have studied relationships between Natives and newcomers. This paper draws on the concept of boundary work to analyse intergroup relations at the Spirit Lake Dakota Indian Reservation, where white settlers (principally Scandinavians) lived alongside Dakotas. To survive and coexist, Indians and immigrants marked and interpreted boundaries of belonging and exclusion. By establishing common practices, they enacted a mutuality that both reflected and subverted racial–ethnic hierarchies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1919-1938
Number of pages20
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • boundary work
  • immigrants
  • Indian reservation
  • Native Americans
  • race-ethnicity
  • Settler colonialism


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