Forces of nature: An environmental history of Inkpaduta's 1857 attack on Spirit Lake

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2020-01-01
Authors
Mason, Kevin
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Pamela Riney-Kehrberg
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Altmetrics
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History
Abstract

The world in which Inkpaduta grew up in the northern Iowa borderlands rapidly changed during the nineteenth century. As Americans entered Dakota occupied lands, alterations to the environment undercut the ability of the Wahpekute to continue vital sustenance patterns. Decimation of animal species, destruction of plant resources, and the introduction of diseases resulted as eager Americans plowed under the tall-grass prairies. Inkpaduta sought to maintain sovereignty and autonomy for the Wahpekute bands living in Iowa as American encroachment underwrote acculturative efforts. Through quantification of acres surveyed, acres improved, acres unimproved, shifting animal populations, and dendrochronological research a clear picture emerges of the pressures building around Inkpaduta prior to the attack on Spirit Lake. That data, when paired with qualification from Dakota sources and the records of the developing American communities, creates a nuanced account of how the Wahpekute sought to maintain sovereignty and autonomy in the face of American acculturation.

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