Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 13 (1996-1997). Copyright © Karen M. Griffin; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


In the late 1930s and 1940s. the Army Corps of Engineers was heavily involved in the development plans for a number of large dams located throughout the country. Many of these dams, and the reservoirs they created, have either been situated on Native American reservations or have had direct impact on reservations. This paper proposes that while the original intent of these dams was to benefit a number of people, there may have been those who saw dams as a convenient tool in the fight to terminate and assimilate the Native American population. Evidence regarding two of these projects, the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River and the Pick Sloan Project along the Missouri River evidence has been detected to support this hypothesis. In both cases the Native Americans were neither informed of the dramatic changes which would effect their lives, nor were they included in any of the discussions concerning these dams. All the tribes faced enormous opposition from the government, which resulted in costly and long-term legal battles an.d for some, the possible termination of their tribe.

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