Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 4, Fall 2009, pp. 318


Copyright 2009 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska- Lincoln


In Exiles and Pioneers, John Bowes examines the dynamic histories of the nineteenth-century Shawnees, Delawares, Potawatomis, and Wyandots as they struggled to find a stable place in an aggressively expanding nation. Bowes acknowledges their status as exiles forced from cherished homelands during the era of Indian removal, but he also argues that members of these Native communities acted as pioneers in the Trans-Mississippi West. Already in motion before passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, they traveled west-sometimes voluntarily, often by force-where they built and rebuift their communities in Missouri, Kansas, and Indian Territory. Bowes contends that "the history of these Indian communities in the nineteenth century encompasses a contest over geographic and political place'" in the United States.

Bowes views the Indian Removal Act as only one of many important transitions in the histories of the four nations. In the first chapter he documents a series of movements of Delaware and Shawnee bands to new lands west of the Mississippi. The migrations started even before the Louisiana Purchase and continued into the 1820s. The emigrants relied on kinship and commercial connections in the creation of these new western communities.