Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1995


Published in Great Plains Research 5:1 (February 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Until recently, prevailing wisdom in academic circles held that nomadic, buffalo hunting tribes on the Great Plains resisted all efforts to make them farmers. According to the old school, sedentary, regimented agricultural life on a reservation violated these noble hunters' culture. Sarah Carter says that the old school was dead wrong. Carter, a Canada Research Fellow with the Department of History and Rupert's Land Research Centre at the University of Winnipeg, argues that during the last quarter of the nineteenth century Indians in Canada's prairie provinces stood ready and willing to adopt an agricultural lifestyle. The Canadian government, however, despite its proclaimed desire to make farmers of reservation Indians, enacted policies that actually inhibited successful Indian agriculture and contributed to Indians turning away from farming. Thus she seeks to revise the old interpretation that the prairie province tribes held agriculture in contempt and resisted the government's best efforts to make them self-sufficient farmers.