Rebirth of the Blackfeet Nation, 1912-1954

The Critics

"Rebirth of the Blackfeet Nation is a thought-provoking and original examination of an almost completely overlooked period in Native American history. This fascinating story begins with the Blackfeet community and keeps the focus there, demonstrating the many ways engagement with the outside world challenged Blackfeet people to re-imagine themselves and their relationships with each other.  I hope this is the first of a new generation of similar studies."
--Frederick E. Hoxie, Swanlund Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"This is a dense, detailed, and rewarding book.  For any student of Indian self-determination, the time required to go through it will be well spent....The result is a meticulous narrative that traces the evolution of tribal political thinking, organization, and action, as well as national policy development to which the tribe so often had to respond. This close look at the tribal political arena is the book's great strength....The book's other great contribution is its examination of changing divisions within Blackfeet society, in particular the intersections between ethnicity, perceived in either genealogical or cultural terms, and class....The book follows the changing tensions between upwardly mobile citizens and the poor, between the more acculturated and the less, between the desire for economic security and the call of tribal culture, and between tribal and corporate visions of the nation."
-- Stephen Cornell, University of Arizona, Journal of Interdisciplinary History Summer 2003

"Paul C. Rosier's study of the Blackfeet Nation's acceptance and exercise of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) illustrates how simplistic has been the general portrayal of the IRA as a failure.  Through extensive archival research, personal interviews, and the use of democratic political theory, Rosier brings the agency of Blackfeet political leaders to the fore.  The struggles of contending intrareservation groups receive as much attention as their ongoing negotiations with federal administrators.  Rosier's verdict that the IRA benefited the Blackfeet is not born of naiveté....Rosier argues persuasively that both the successes and shortcomings of Blackfeet utilization of the provisions of the IRA were predictable growing pains in the laudable establishment of participatory democracy on this northern Montana reservation....Nevertheless, the study is welcome as a long overdue addition to the sparse scholarship on Native political and economic activism in the twentieth century.  Painful though the journey was, it is a story of success.  Students will recoil from the detailed recounting of political and economic developments, but scholars can make good use of the Blackfeet account."
-- Melissa L. Meyer, UCLA   American Historical Review June 2003

"Rosier's book is a significant addition to the historiography of twentieth-century Indian studies....[It] adds important new insights into postwar termination policies."
--Donald L. Parman, Purdue University

"...Paul Rosier's superb monograph deals with the intense economic and political efforts of the Blackfeet to collectively emancipate themselves from their own earlier political paradigms, from poverty and dependency, and from the wardship of the federal government in the shape of the Office of Indian Affairs....Rosier also explores full-blood political maturation as evidenced by their developing alliance to reassert leadership and power.  For all that, however, the novelty and originality of this work rests on the focus that Rosier brings to the largely unnoticed and unwritten Blackfeet story of mixed-blood involvement, leadership, and commitment to a tribal future that was broadly inclusive and decidedly Indian."
--William E. Farr, University of Montana, Journal of American Ethnic History, Spring 2003

"...this study offers valuable new insight, not only into the history of the Blackfeet nation, but also into the Indian New Deal, and the challenges Indian communities faced in the early twentieth century.  This book rightfully deserves a prominent place in the Indian New Deal canon....This book is not an easy read.  The story is told in a narrative of greater intricacy than many readers are likely to seek.  Furthermore, although chronologically organized, the book is analytically and interpretively bold and ambitious....In summary, this innovative book deserves a prominent place on the scholar's shelf.  It advances significantly our understanding of a well-documented, but as yet poorly understood era in US Indian history.
--Theodore Binnema, University of Northern British Columbia, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Summer 2003

"Paul C. Rosier contributes a detailed, nuanced study of Blackfeet political economy during a timeframe little considered previously, a central factor in the book's fresh perspectives, analysis, and conclusions. It also adeptly and honestly emphasizes relevant Blackfeet values, motivations, and actions retrieved through scrupulous use of government documents, local newspapers, Blackfeet tribal archives, and interviews with Blackfeet. What is revealed may come as a bit of a surprise for those, like me, schooled in anti-IRA rhetoric and studies. For the Blackfeet, the IRA provided a relatively effective "sense of political efficacy and the means to produce change" (273)."
--Andrea New Holy, Montana State University   Native Studies Review 2001

"Paul C. Rosier's portrait of the Blackfeet people during the turbulent years from 1912 to 1954 is based upon archival research, government documents, interviews with selected individuals, and an appropriate secondary literature. Not a book for the fainthearted, this thick description nevertheless makes an important contribution to our understanding of how this group of American Indians responded to federal policies and sought to shape them to their benefit. A great strength of Rosier's study is his reconstruction of the way Blackfeet people struggled to construct their identity and to understand what "sovereignty" might mean in the twentieth century." --- Howard L. Harrod, Vanderbilt University  Journal of American History September 2002

"This revealing work will demonstrate to the field the complexity of modern Indian history and how tribal identity has evolved and retained its fundamental existence.  This work is remarkable in that the author has told an important "inside" story..." 
--Donald Fixico, Director of the Center for Indigenous Nations Studies and Thomas Bowlus Distinguished Professor of American Indian History, University of Kansas

"Rosier's book is excruciatingly revealing, honest, and important.  Not just to me, despite my hardened edge, but for the uninformed reader as well.  The chronicle is powerfully laced with pages of stark reality, and wanton subterfuge....Rosier's work is an eloquent account of a people who have been through the worst of times and still view every day as one of promise."
--Darrel Robes Kipp, Piegan Institute, Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Great Plains Quarterly,  Fall 2002

"Rebirth of the Blackfeet Nation, 1912-1954 is an outstanding book on one tribe's experience of their internal struggles in embracing the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act and the termination era of the early 1950's.  The author does an excellent job of researching pertinent tribal and federal documents in telling the story of how the Blackfeet people dealt with changes in the early twentieth century that had profound impacts on their tribal identity that they still face today."
--George Heavy Runner, Enrolled Member of the Blackfeet Tribe,  American Studies, Summer 2002

"Paul C. Rosier has written a well-researched, sophisticated political history of the Blackfeet in the early- to mid-twentieth century.  Shifting tribal history away from the nineteenth-century Indian Wars, he presents a portrait of people finding ways to contend with the paternalistic federal government. By using the tools provided by the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), Rosier maintains that the tribe carved out a significant voice for itself in the face of termination, unscrupulous oil companies, and internal strife. Scholars interested in the development of civil rights or in twentieth-century American Indian history will find much to consider here.... _Rebirth of the Blackfeet Nation_ is a masterful, sensitive book.  In telling the story of how the Blackfeet created institutions to reconcile reservation interests as well as contend with the vagaries of federal oversight, Paul C. Rosier makes an important addition to twentieth-century American Indian history.  He should be commended for this work.
Scott Meredith, University of New Mexico   H-Net Reviews

"This book's contribution to existing literature comes from the fact that it examines a little explored time period in history, specifically that between the IRA and the Termination era.  By focusing on one group, the Blackfeet, Rosier affords the reader an opportunity to take a closer look at what a federal government policy actually meant for the people that were subject to it.... This book is recommended for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students as well as to people interested in exploring specific outcomes of the Indian Reorganization Act.  It is valuable because it enables the reader to get a sense of the political and economic landscape prior to the IRA and the resulting repercussions of the IRA for one American Indian nation." 
--Stephanie Al Molholt, University of Kansas, Indigenous Nations Studies Journal, Fall 2002

"[T]his is a thorough, balanced, and conceptually sound analysis.  Rosier recognizes that the IRA experience varied widely among reservation communities and that many more case studies are needed before drawing generalizations about Indians' overall experience with democracy in the twentieth century.  This volume provides an excellent model for such future undertakings.  It also contributes to a much richer understanding of how Indians respond to and deal with federal Indian policy and how Indians as both individuals and tribes have assimilated into the nation's political economy.
--Larry Burt, Southwestern Missouri State University, Western Historical Quarterly Autumn 2002

"Rosier (Villanova University) has written an instructive case study of 20th-century American Indian political economy. Dealing with the Blackfeet in northwestern Montana, he examines cultural, social, and economic factors that shaped relations between the Blackfeet and the federal government....Recommended for upper-division undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty in American Indian studies, anthropology, and history." 
D.R. Parks, Indiana University-Bloomington, Choice, April 2002