Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 27, No. 4, Fall 2007, pp. 311.
In the vein of Vine Deloria Jr., the preeminent American Indian intellectual who in 1969 forced a raw consciousness about the tragic history and political status of Native peoples with Custer Died for Our Sins, Edward Valandra reminds us in Not Without Our Consent of the continuing importance of documenting twentieth- century American Indian history lest the Indian story be forgotten. Deloria, whose Lakota heritage and national leadership in Indian affairs significantly informed Valandra's work, contributed the foreword, setting the backdrop for one of the book's main themes, the federal government's "Indian Problem" in the 1950s and its imprudent plan to eliminate tribal benefits and protections and ultimately to terminate its political relationship with tribes through federal legislation commonly called Public Law 280. Valandra's own experience as a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council in the late 1980s spurred his investigation into South Dakota's response to the federal termination policy and its misguided, if not ill-motivated, application of it to the state's "Indian Question."
Not Without Our Consent is a compelling account of the political and legal events in South Dakota during the 1950s and 1960s aimed at unilaterally imposing state civil and criminal jurisdiction in Lakota country and ultimately dismantling tribal political-cultural structures. In fine detail, often using the strident language of "Euroamerican" colonialism, Valandra recounts the appalling pattern of South Dakota's hostile measures toward Lakota people during a time of demoralizing poverty on reservations and disparaging racial tensions between the white and Native populations. Not Without Our Consent also tells the more impressive story of the Lakota people's collective and steadfast resistance to such oppressive actions during this perilous period and their successful but costly struggle for self-determination.
Valandra's aptly titled work illustrates how the state's ill-premised political strategies failed not just because of its stubborn refusal to deal with the all-important provision in the South Dakota Constitution disclaiming jurisdiction over Indian lands or of its fervent aversion to bearing any financial responsibility for assuming such jurisdiction. The state repeatedly fell short because it fundamentally failed to appreciate the strength of the Lakotas' sovereignty and their tenacious ties to their lands.