Michigan and the Great Lakes

Great Lakes Indian Accommodation and Resistance during the Early Reservation Years, 1850-1900

Edmund Jefferson Danziger, Jr.

The story of how Great Lakes Indians survived the early reservation years


During the four decades following the War of 1812, Great Lakes Indians were forced to surrender most of their ancestral homelands and begin refashioning their lives on reservations. The challenges Indians faced during this period could not have been greater. By century's end, settlers, frontier developers, and federal bureaucrats possessed not only economic and political power but also the bulk of the region's resources. It is little wonder that policymakers in Washington and Ottawa alike anticipated the disappearance of distinctive Indian communities within a single generation. However, these predictions have proved false as Great Lakes Indian communities, though assaulted on both sides of the international border to this day, have survived. Danziger's lively and insightful book documents the story of these Great Lakes Indians—a study not of victimization but of how Aboriginal communities and their leaders have determined their own destinies and preserved core values, lands, and identities against all odds and despite ongoing marginalization.

Utilizing eyewitness accounts from the 1800s and an innovative, cross-national approach, Danziger explores not only how Native Americans adapted to their new circumstances—including attempts at horse and plow agriculture, the impact of reservation allotment, and the response to Christian evangelists—but also the ways in which the astute and resourceful Great Lakes chiefs, councils, and clan mothers fought to protect their homeland and preserve the identity of their people. Through their efforts, dreams of economic self-sufficiency and self-determination as well as the historic right to unimpeded border crossings—from one end of the Great Lakes basin to the other—were kept alive.

Photo of girls at Lac du Flambeau School courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society, image 55938; photo of Ojibwa farm family at Garden River Reservation courtesy Archives of Ontario, image S 16361.

Edmund Jefferson Danziger, Jr., is a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of History at Bowling Green State University. Danziger is well known among historians and anthropologists for his interpretive histories of Great Lakes Native Americans. Visit the author's website.

Praise / Awards

  • "Danziger's new book syntyhesizes the rich scholarship that followed in a manner that should inform scholars, laypeople, and political leaders. That is more than enough. The questions it raises are part of its strength."
    —Wilbert H. Ahern, University of Minnesota-Morris

  • "In all, Danziger constructs a complex narrative that sometimes supplements and sometimes unsettles accepted and understanding of First Nations' history. Though broad in scope and ambitious in undertaking, Danziger does the First Nations people of the Great Lakes region justice by demonstrating their unwillingness to become unwitting victims of overwhelming, and forced, change. He writes in a comfortable tone that should be accessible to most interested readers. All those interested in the history of First Nations peoples of the Great Lakes region should read Accomodation and Resistance."
    —Michael Ripmeester, Brock University

  • "Danziger's study will be significant to U.S.-Canada boarderlands studies for many years to come and provides a very refreshing and compelling corrective to more common characterizations of this period as one that held only victimization for Great Lakes Indians."
    Western Historical Quarterly

  • "Danziger has produced a solid book."
    —Angela Firkus, Cottey College, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

  • "Great Lakes Indian Accomodation is a must read for anyone interested in the history of indigenous peoples, forced cultural change, adaptability, and survival. Danziger's book is a remarkable, factual narrative of various Native Peoples who refused to relinquish their identity during an extremely sad and embarrassing period in United States and Canadian history."
    Michigan Historical Review

Look Inside

Copyright © 2009, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 336pp.
  • 33 B&W photographs, 7 tables and 2 maps.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2009
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-09690-9

Add to Cart
  • $69.95 U.S.



  • Great Lakes Indians, Ontario Indians, New York Indians, Michigan Indians, Wisconsin Indians, Minnesota Indians, Iroquois Indians, First Nations, Canadian Indian policy, United States Indian policy, Algonquian Indians, Ojibwa Indians