In Encounter on the Great Plains, Karen V. Hansen explores the settlement of the Spirit Lake Dakota Indian Reservation during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Looking beyond the simplistic settler-Indian dichotomy of this reservation’s population, Hansen assesses the “encounter” between Scandinavian immigrants and Dakota peoples. Viewing their neighborly interaction as a process, not a moment in time, Hansen seeks to illustrate the many shared experiences of these two seemingly dissimilar peoples. Throughout the monograph, Hansen argues that Spirit Lake became more than geographic space containing two distinct homelands. Rather, it was a culturally diverse region in which the two groups encountered each other as “neither adversaries nor allies . . . [but] as strangers in a contact zone” (19). From the remembrances of Dakota tribal elders to the diaries of Scandinavian immigrants, Hansen’s eloquent narrative relies heavily on the...

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