Keywords: Indian reservations, indigenous participation, bovine economies, cattle, American Indians, agriculture, economic development, farming, USA, United States, reservation economies, historical development, Native Americans
Building reservation economies: Cattle, American Indians and the American West
Removal to reservations involved American Indians in changing economies and federal 'civilisation' programs that were fueled by beef cattle, breeding cattle, working cattle (oxen) and dairy cattle. As 19th century reservations expanded, Native Americans negotiated the bovine economies as consumers, labourers, producers, retailers and marketers. Cattle, working oxen and dairy cows were intended to fulfil federal 'civilisation' goals, to replace wild game, to build reservation infrastructures, to effect nutrition programs, federal self-sufficiency programs and to stimulate pastoral economies that confined people to limited tracts of land. Federal officials also introduced cattle breeding and dairies as incentives to self-support that included American Indians' increased participation in market economies. Herd-building became a mark of accepted 'civilised' behaviour to federal authorities. American Indians, however, opted to participate in the experiences brought by cattle to reservation economies in ways that were necessary or meaningful to them.