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Flooded by Progress: Law, Natural Resources, and Native Rights in the Postwar Pacific Northwest


This dissertation examines the politics of federal Indian law and the changing economic and environmental landscape of the postwar Pacific Northwest. In particular, it contends that the changing legal status of Native lands and resources was instrumental in both the massive industrial expansion, and subsequent environmental transformation, of the postwar Pacific Northwest. It traces the relations between economic and environmental changes and their connections to the dramatic policy shift in Indian affairs from the early 1950s, when the federal government unilaterally terminated tribal status of 109 Native communities, most of them in the Pacific Northwest, to the Native sovereignty movement, which precipitated new national policies of self-determination in the 1970s. Not only does the dissertation illuminate how Native communities in the Pacific Northwest were inequitably burdened by the region's environmental and economic transformations in the second half of the 20th century, it also demonstrates how these transformations fueled the national economy in the postwar years as well as the emergence of Native activism, and how Native communities actively navigated and influenced seminal directions in federal Indian policy. Lastly, it illustrates how Native communities in the Pacific Northwest responded to the economic and environmental struggles of the early sovereignty era. This dissertation remaps the field of Native American history, by foregrounding its critical intersections with 20th-century environmental and economic histories. It relies heavily on materials from the National Archives & Records Administration Regional Office in Seattle, Washington, and agency archives from the Bonneville Power Administration, US Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, all in Portland, Oregon. In addition, the dissertation utilizes a variety of additional evidentiary support, and records from tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

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