Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christopher Steinke

Committee Members

Jeff Wells, Nathan Tye, William Stoutamire


Borderland;Lakota;Nebraska;Pine Ridge;White Clay;Wounded Knee Massacre


Northwest Nebraska, from the 1870s to the early twentieth century, had a complex economic and social atmosphere that intertwined with the Pine Ridge Reservation. As the United States continued promoting settlement westward, non-native settlers and the US military became the main proponent in displacing the Lakota people from their land in Nebraska. Following the gold rush to the Black Hills, the additional free land opportunities in northwest Nebraska forced Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies out of Nebraska and into the southwest corner of Dakota Territory. Relocated to Pine Ridge Agency, the Oglala Lakota continued to struggle as a people. Nearly adjacent to Nebraska, businessmen from around the country and within the border town communities of Gordon, Rushville, Hay Springs, and Chadron sought the economic opportunities being so close to the Native reservation. At the same time, the aggressive assimilation policies and practices of American politicians and agency officials, defined by the Progressive era, were largely taken advantage of by individuals who sought to gain on Lakota poverty. As these federal officials and businessmen continued restraining Native culture and identity at Pine Ridge, Lakotas who longed for their way of life sought a new Native religion with Ghost Dancing during the late 1880s and early 1890s, peaking in North and South Dakota from August through December 1890. The Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29 led to a new era between Pine Ridge and northwest Nebraska. Locals in northwest Nebraska took on a much more prominent role in the reservation economy and in social life within the border towns near the Pine Ridge Reservation.

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