Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Native but foreign: Indigenous transnational refugees and immigrants in the U.S.-Canadian and U.S.-Mexican borderlands, 1880-present

Brenden Rensink, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Post-Columbian borderlands between competing Euro-American empires and North America’s indigenous populations were complex multi-national and international landscapes. Nineteenth and twentieth-century transnational indigenous migration across U.S-Canadian and U.S-Mexican borders provide important narratives for better understanding these contested regions. During these years, Canada, the United States and Mexico increasingly strove to use the borders as barriers to define what Native peoples fell within the confines of their jurisdiction or responsibility. Concurrently, some Native groups used the geopolitical implications of imposed Euro-American borders to escape persecution and seek better conditions in newly defined “foreign” lands. These transnational narratives resulted in unique Native North American experiences.^ The predominant historiographic narrative of indigenous North American transnationals details Natives exodus out of the United States. Crees and Chippewas from Canada, and Yaquis from Mexico, however, moved against this flow, entering the United States in search of permanent settlement. Their narratives serve to illustrate unique indigenous experiences in the United States. Alternately defined by the United States as political refugees, “foreign” Indians or illegal immigrants, Crees, Chippewas and Yaquis in Montana and Arizona boast histories unique from those of other Natives in Canada, the United States and Mexico. This study will examine both narratives in order to reveal their distinct struggles to secure stable and legal settlement in the United States. Bringing disparate historiographies into dialog, their comparative analysis will reveal new understandings of the North American borderland, indigenous experience and transnational history.^

Subject Area

History, United States|Native American Studies

Recommended Citation

Rensink, Brenden, "Native but foreign: Indigenous transnational refugees and immigrants in the U.S.-Canadian and U.S.-Mexican borderlands, 1880-present" (2010). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3398456.