Karen V. Hansen
Encounter on the Great Plains:
Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930
This event includes a book signing
November 1, 2013
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store is pleased to welcome Brandeis professor KAREN V. HANSEN for a discussion of her latest book, Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930.
In 1904, the first Scandinavian settlers moved onto the Spirit Lake Dakota Indian Reservation. These land-hungry immigrants struggled against severe poverty, often becoming the sharecropping tenants of Dakota landowners. Yet the homesteaders' impoverishment did not impede their quest to acquire Indian land, and by 1929 Scandinavians owned more reservation acreage than their Dakota neighbors. Norwegian homesteader Helena Haugen Kanten put it plainly: "We stole the land from the Indians."
With this largely unknown story at its center, Encounter on the Great Plains brings together two dominant processes in American history: the unceasing migration of newcomers to North America, and the protracted dispossession of indigenous peoples who inhabited the continent.
Drawing on fifteen years of archival research and 130 oral histories, Karen V. Hansen explores the epic issues of co-existence between settlers and Indians and the effect of racial hierarchies, both legal and cultural, on marginalized peoples. Hansen offers a wealth of intimate detail about daily lives and community events, showing how both Dakotas and Scandinavians resisted assimilation and used their rights as new citizens to combat attacks on their cultures. In this flowing narrative, women emerge as resourceful agents of their own economic interests. Dakota women gained autonomy in the use of their allotments, while Scandinavian women staked and "proved up" their own claims.
Hansen chronicles the intertwined stories of Dakotas and immigrants—women and men, farmers, domestic servants, and day laborers. Their shared struggles reveal efforts to maintain a language, sustain a culture, and navigate their complex ties to more than one nation. The history of the American West cannot be told without these voices: their long connections, intermittent conflicts, and profound influence over one another defy easy categorization and provide a new perspective on the processes of immigration and land taking.
"How did it happen that Scandinavian immigrants and their descendants came to live together on a Dakota Indian reservation? Here is the story, profoundly human, of dispossession and occupation: deftly nuanced, deeply sourced, engagingly written. A first-rate history."—Walter Nugent, author of Into the West: The Story of Its People
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.
While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.
Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:
- Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
- Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
- Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.
Ordering a signed book by phone:
- Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
- If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.
Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.
Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!
Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.
I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.
More questions? Give us a call!
Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
Author event updates +
In your inbox, once a week.
Shipping & Delivery
and options, locally
Signed First Edition Club
A unique way for readers to create a wealth of great books—Get a membership for yourself or for a gift!Learn More »