Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Gregory D. Smithers

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Dickinson

Third Advisor

Dr. Adam Ewing


Arikara people had been adapting their tribal structures to European influences since Europeans first arrived on the northern Plains in the early seventeenth century. Their sedentary lifestyle, focused on agriculture and hunting, increasingly included trade with French, British, and American trappers by the seventeenth century. The goods procured from European traders, such as firearms and other metallurgical works, began to upset the balance of geopolitical power on the Plains, setting the stage for the violence and political realignments at the center of this thesis. As my research reveals, by the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition, tensions between the frontiersmen and the Indigenous people across the northern Plains reached new heights. As Arikara oral histories, United States diplomatic records, ethnological sources – such as travel writings – and correspondence from frontier settlers and soldiers reveal, the Arikara tribe struggled to innovate and reshape their societies in the face of colonial expansionism and hostilities with other Indigenous polities.


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Date of Submission