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History Workshop: “Justice and Fair Play for the American Indian: Harry Lane, Robert Hamilton, and a Vision of Native American Modernity.”

Marc Carpenter, UO History,
Thursday, June 7, 3:30 – 5:00 pm,
McKenzie Hall, Room 375.

Between 1913 and 1916, two insurgent politicians successfully blocked repeated efforts to sell the so-called surplus lands of the Blackfeet Nation. Harry Lane, a U.S. Senator from Oregon and a radical progressive, broke with other Euro-American reformers by fighting for Native sovereignty as a guarantor of Native rights. Robert Hamilton, a Carlisle-educated Blackfeet rancher crusading against the wealthy elite of the Blackfeet Nation, used his facility with the Euro-American world to convince first Senator Lane and then the U.S. government to support some measure of justice for his people. This article explores the paradoxical origins of Lane and Hamilton’s activism and the careful tactics they used in their fights for Native American rights. The two men shared a vision of Native American modernity that combined an embrace of modern economic practice with a respect for cultural traditions; they selectively obscured the latter to pursue their political goals.