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Restructuring the Reservation: House-building policy and adult education on the Crow Reservation, 1880–1934

Rebecca S Wingo, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Using the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation in Montana as a case study, Restructuring the Reservation examines the impact of federal house-building campaigns and adult education programs from 1880–1934 on the citizenship, domesticity, economic opportunity, environment, family structure, gender roles, health, housing infrastructure, landscape, moral authority, and motherhood. The Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) designed programs, such as the farmer and field matron field services, to supervise the promotion of white middle-class values among adult reservation communities. Missionaries implemented other programs to exercise moral control over reservation adults as well. Building upon the expansive literature about boarding school education for Native American children and the intimate domestic spaces of Indigenous women, this dissertation explores gendered adult programming within the context of citizenship, race, and settler colonialism. This research further demonstrates that administrators of housing and related policies and reformers ironically undermined both their own and each other's civilizing efforts, implying a disconnect between the policy, practice, and rhetoric of federal house-building policy. While the OIA sought to control reservation adults, the Crow creatively and clandestinely worked to retain and exercise their cultural, religious, and social autonomy within their own domestic spaces. Crow men and women actively used the house as a site of negotiation to blunt the sharp edges of coercive assimilation policy. The Crow incorporated their culture and traditions into their highly supervised daily lives. The Apsáalooke met their colonizers head-on as government-sponsored domestic imperialistic programs attempted to repackage and restructure the reservation.

Subject Area

Womens studies|History|Native American studies

Recommended Citation

Wingo, Rebecca S, "Restructuring the Reservation: House-building policy and adult education on the Crow Reservation, 1880–1934" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3689581.