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The Power of Promises Rethinking Indian Treaties in the Pacific Northwest by Alexandra Harmon, John Borrows

The Power of Promises Rethinking Indian Treaties in the Pacific Northwest


Part of the Emil and Kathleen Sick Series in Western History and Biography Series


The Power of Promises Rethinking Indian Treaties in the Pacific Northwest by Alexandra Harmon, John Borrows

Treaties with Native American groups in the Pacific Northwest have had profound and long-lasting implications for land ownership, resource access, and political rights in both the United States and Canada. In The Power of Promises, a distinguished group of scholars, representing many disciplines, discuss the treaties' legacies.In North America, where treaties have been employed hundreds of times to define relations between indigenous and colonial societies, many such pacts have continuing legal force, and many have been the focus of recent, high-stakes legal contests. The Power of Promises shows that Indian treaties have implications for important aspects of human history and contemporary existence, including struggles for political and cultural power, law's effect on people's self-conceptions, the functions of stories about the past, and the process of defining national and ethnic identities.


Alexandra Harmon has pulled 11 important essays together into a useful volume to be used in Native studies, political science, and American and Canadian First Nations history. This is an important book for treaty history, policy history, and transborder studies. * Pacific Northwest Quarterly * While the essays do a marvelous job defining power relations between tribal groups and western governments, the work is also exemplary in exploring power relations among tribes. This text should serve as a model for those who would produce books deriving from conference papers. It provides valuable comparative insights, for beginners and experts, into treaty and resource issues and histories across national, tribal (and disciplinary) borders in the Pacific Northwest. * Oregon Historical Quarterly * The Power of Promises contextualizes and breathes new understandings into the processes, perspectives, intentionalities and implications of treaty making between the Aboriginal inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest and European settlers as they negotiated their respective spaces. * BC History * This multidisciplinary, transnational volume is a welcome addition to treaty literature in Canada and the United States.... Together these essays provide a comprehensive, thought-provoking overview of treaties in the Pacific Northwest along with fresh perspectives on their significance for indigenous-settler relations today. * BC Studies * The Power of Promises presents the Pacific Northwest as a microcosm bringing the multiple complications of indigenous and international treaties into sharp focus. . . . [T]his collection of essays offers several surprises that make this an important touchstone for consideration of indigenous legal relationships around the Pacific Rim and beyond. * Journal of World History * This volume will appeal to people interested in legal studies and Native American history and will challenge readers to rethink what they know about the region's history. -- Patricia Ann Owens * Columbia * The Power of Promises provides the reader with a complex and international understanding of treaties in the Pacific Northwest. . . . Any scholar or student of Native American history would benefit from reading and wrestling with the ideas and interpretations in this volume. -- Robert McCoy * Journal of American Ethnic History *

About the Author

Alexandra Harmon is associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of Washington and author of Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities around Puget Sound. Other contributors are Robert Anderson, Russel Lawrence Barsh, Ravi de Costa, Andrew H. Fisher, Hamar Foster, Chris Friday, Alan Grove, Douglas C. Harris, Kent McNeil, Paige Raigmon, Arthur Ray, and Bruce Rigsby.

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Book Info

Publication date

25th February 2009


Alexandra Harmon, John Borrows

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University of Washington Press


384 pages


History of the Americas



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