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History 605 S3, Ep 2: Supporting Indian rights in the 19th Century with Valerie Sherer Mathes

Life in late 19th century America and Dakota Territory was filled with unprecedented change. The nation was recovering from the cataclysmic Civil War, quickly growing westward, and industrializing rapidly. In the midst of all this were people, mostly on the east coast, mostly women, and mostly protestant who were working to make sure Indians were treated humanely. Valerie Sherer Mathes has spent a good part of her professional life writing about the Women’s National Indian Association and the political clout they wielded to raise money, establish hospitals and schools, and live out their view of the Christian gospel. The story is a rich and complex one, comprised of people she wishes she could have met, nevertheless one whose mixed results are forgotten or misunderstood today.

For more on the fascinating case of Standing Bear, see her work here South Dakota History or here. Her most recent article in South Dakota History was, “Charles C. Painter: How we Punish our Allies, Advocating for Gabriel Renville and the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Scouts,” Summer 2021, Vol. 51. No. 2.

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