Shadow Tribe: The Making of Columbia River Indian Identity

Paperback | June 7, 2010

byAndrew H. Fisher

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Shadow Tribe offers the first in-depth history of the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River Indians -- the defiant River People whose ancestors refused to settle on the reservations established for them in central Oregon and Washington. Largely overlooked in traditional accounts of tribal dispossession and confinement, their story illuminates the persistence of off-reservation Native communities and the fluidity of their identities over time. Cast in the imperfect light of federal policy and dimly perceived by non-Indian eyes, the flickering presence of the Columbia River Indians has followed the treaty tribes down the difficult path marked out by the forces of American colonization.

Based on more than a decade of archival research and conversations with Native people, Andrew Fisher’s groundbreaking book traces the waxing and waning of Columbia River Indian identity from the mid-nineteenth through the late twentieth centuries. Fisher explains how, despite policies designed to destroy them, the shared experience of being off the reservation and at odds with recognized tribes forged far-flung river communities into a loose confederation called the Columbia River Tribe. Environmental changes and political pressures eroded their autonomy during the second half of the twentieth century, yet many River People continued to honor a common heritage of ancestral connection to the Columbia, resistance to the reservation system, devotion to cultural traditions, and detachment from the institutions of federal control and tribal governance. At times, their independent and uncompromising attitude has challenged the sovereignty of the recognized tribes, earning Columbia River Indians a reputation as radicals and troublemakers even among their own people.

Shadow Tribe is part of a new wave of historical scholarship that shows Native American identities to be socially constructed, layered, and contested rather than fixed, singular, and unchanging. From his vantage point on the Columbia, Fisher has written a pioneering study that uses regional history to broaden our understanding of how Indians thwarted efforts to confine and define their existence within narrow reservation boundaries.

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Shadow Tribe offers the first in-depth history of the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River Indians -- the defiant River People whose ancestors refused to settle on the reservations established for them in central Oregon and Washington. Largely overlooked in traditional accounts of tribal dispossession and confinement, their story illumi...

From the Jacket

Shadow Tribe offers the first in-depth history of the Pacific Northwest's Columbia River Indians--the defiant River People whose ancestors refused to settle on the reservations established for them in central Oregon and Washington. Largely overlooked, their story illuminates the persistence of off-reservation Native communities and th...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6.04 × 0.95 inPublished:June 7, 2010Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295990201

ISBN - 13:9780295990200

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. People of the River

2. Making Treaties, Making Tribes

3. They Mean to Be Indian Always

4. Places of Persistence

5. Spaces of Resistance

6. Home Folk

7. Submergence and Resurgence

Conclusion

NotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Shadow Tribe offers the first in-depth history of the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River Indians -- the defiant River People whose ancestors refused to settle on the reservations established for them in central Oregon and Washington. Largely overlooked in traditional accounts of tribal dispossession and confinement, their story illuminates the persistence of off-reservation Native communities and the fluidity of their identities over time. Cast in the imperfect light of federal policy and dimly perceived by non-Indian eyes, the flickering presence of the Columbia River Indians has followed the treaty tribes down the difficult path marked out by the forces of American colonization.Based on more than a decade of archival research and conversations with Native people, Andrew Fisher’s groundbreaking book traces the waxing and waning of Columbia River Indian identity from the mid-nineteenth through the late twentieth centuries. Fisher explains how, despite policies designed to destroy them, the shared experience of being off the reservation and at odds with recognized tribes forged far-flung river communities into a loose confederation called the Columbia River Tribe. Environmental changes and political pressures eroded their autonomy during the second half of the twentieth century, yet many River People continued to honor a common heritage of ancestral connection to the Columbia, resistance to the reservation system, devotion to cultural traditions, and detachment from the institutions of federal control and tribal governance. At times, their independent and uncompromising attitude has challenged the sovereignty of the recognized tribes, earning Columbia River Indians a reputation as radicals and troublemakers even among their own people. Shadow Tribe is part of a new wave of historical scholarship that shows Native American identities to be socially constructed, layered, and contested rather than fixed, singular, and unchanging. From his vantage point on the Columbia, Fisher has written a pioneering study that uses regional history to broaden our understanding of how Indians thwarted efforts to confine and define their existence within narrow reservation boundaries.Andrew Fisher’s fine book asks us to reconsider the particular places and symbolic spaces in which American Indians of the Pacific Northwest have sustained their cultural identity and legal rights independent of reservation—based political authority. Though focused on the compelling story of Columbia River Indians’ struggles of community maintenance, this important study will benefit all scholars of American Indian history and ethnic studies. - Paul C. Rosier, author of Serving Their Country: American Indian Politics and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century