"Our Relations…the Mixed Bloods"

Indigenous Transformation and Dispossession in the Western Great Lakes

By Larry Nesper
Foreword by Michael S. Wiggins Jr.

Subjects: Indigenous Studies, American History, Anthropology
Series: SUNY series, Tribal Worlds: Critical Studies in American Indian Nation Building
Hardcover : 9781438482859, 264 pages, April 2021
Paperback : 9781438482866, 264 pages, January 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


1. Ojibwe Ethnogenesis and the Fur Trade

2. Descent Ideology, Sociality, and the Transformation of Indigenous Society

3. Ojibwe Treaties, the Emerging Paradigm of Race, and Allotting Mixed Bloods

4. "Mixed Bloods" in the Southwest Sector of Anishinaabewaki

5. Implementing the Mixed-Blood Provision of the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe

6. Constituting Reservation Society on the Emerging Postdispossession Landscape

7. Allotment and the Problems of Belonging



Articulates the relationships between kinship, racial ideology, mixed blood treaty provisions, and landscape transformation in the Great Lakes region.


In the Great Lakes region of the nineteenth century, "mixed bloods" were a class of people living within changing indigenous communities. As such, they were considered in treaties signed between the tribal nations and the federal government. Larry Nesper focuses on the implementation and long-term effects of the mixed-blood provision of the 1854 treaty with the Chippewa of Wisconsin. That treaty not only ceded lands and created the Ojibwe Indian reservations in the region, it also entitled hundreds of "mixed-bloods belonging to the Chippewas of Lake Superior," as they appear in this treaty, to locate parcels of land in the ceded territories. However, quickly dispossessed of their entitlement, the treaty provision effectively capitalized the first mining companies in Wisconsin, initiating the period of non-renewable resource extraction that changed the demography, ecology, and potential future for the region for both natives and non-natives. With the influx of Euro-Americans onto these lands, conflicts over belonging and difference, as well as community leadership, proliferated on these new reservations well into the twentieth century. This book reveals the tensions between emergent racial ideology and the resilience of kinship that shaped the historical trajectory of regional tribal society to the present.

Larry Nesper is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of The Walleye War: The Struggle for Ojibwe Spearfishing and Treaty Rights and the coeditor (with Brain Hosmer) of Tribal Worlds: Critical Studies in American Indian Nation Building, also published by SUNY Press.


"…a valuable resource for understanding the role of race in the sociopolitical context of history." — CHOICE