Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christopher Steinke

Committee Members

Linda Van Ingen, Will Stoutamire, Nathan Tye


Allottment;Depression;Indigneous;IRA;Meriam Report;Wisconsin


Indigenous peoples in Wisconsin experienced many significant economic changes during their history. Currently, there are eleven federally recognized tribal nations within the Badger State. Americans forced the Oneida and Stockbridge-Munsee peoples to move west, while the Menominee, Bodewadmi, Ho-Chunk, and Ojibwe homelands in Wisconsin preceded European settlement. This thesis looks at the histories of the Oneida, Stockbridge-Munsee, Menominee, Bodewadmi, Ho-Chunk, and six Ojibwe reservations in Wisconsin and the transition of economic dependence on seasonal natural resources to wages earned from tourism between the late 1800s and the Indian New Deal in 1934. Indigenous peoples have relied on seasonal economies that include the harvesting of berries and rice, hunting and trapping, fishing, and gardening. This was drastically altered during the late 1800s when government policy centered on allotment. Reservation timber was a significant resource for Native peoples when government officials gave them permission to cut and sell, but proved difficult to compete with white lumber companies that stripped their land by using clear-cutting methods. Once timber resources diminished in the 1920s, many Indigenous peoples in Wisconsin turned to the growing tourism industry and its wage-based economy. The Indian New Deal brought government relief and labor programs during the Great Depression. The Depression Era created unique challenges and opportunities for the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the federal government. Even though the desired impact of the Indian New Deal was never fully reached, its programs permanently altered the economies of Wisconsin reservations.



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