Search In Books Blog
Book Details

From The University of North Carolina Press
Rich Indians
Native People and the Problem of Wealth in American History
By Alexandra Harmon
448 pp. / 6.125 x 9.25 / 2010
Buy This Book
Related Interest

Long before lucrative tribal casinos sparked controversy, Native Americans amassed other wealth that provoked intense debate about the desirability, morality, and compatibility of

"Harmon offers an original overview of Indian-white relations in the United States by tracing Euro-American attitudes towards Indian economic activity and Indian wealth from seventeenth-century Virginia to the modern age. An original, wide-ranging, well-written, and well-argued work."
— Frederick Hoxie, author of A Final Promise: The Campaign to Assimilate the American Indians, 1880-1920

"The book's greatest strengths are its synthesis of diverse materials and its ability to clearly articulate profound moral ambivalence.The divergent pieces of history that Harmon connects constitute a radically new way to understand twentieth-century Indian history. "
Journal of American History

"This bold and provocative book is an outstanding work of scholarship. It reveals the complicated and often paradoxical history of American ideas about the morality of wealth accumulation and Indians' efforts to compete in the capitalist marketplace on the same terms as their non-Indian counterparts. Harmon is a trailblazer in the field of American Indian economic history. "
— Colleen O'Neill, author of Working the Navajo Way: Labor and Culture in the Twentieth Century
Indian and non-Indian economic practices. Skillfully blending social, cultural, and economic history, Alexandra Harmon examines seven such instances of Indian affluence and the dilemmas they presented both for Native Americans and for Euro-Americans--dilemmas rooted in the colonial origins of the modern American economy.

This wide-ranging book looks at controversies concerning Powhatan economic status and aims during the Virginia colony's first years, the ambitions of some bicultural eighteenth-century Creeks and Mohawks, prospering Indians of the Southeast in the early 1800s, inequality among removed tribes during the Gilded Age, the spending of oil-rich Osages in the Roaring Twenties, resurgent tribal communities from Alaska to Maine in the 1970s, and casinos that have drawn gamblers to Indian country across the United States since the 1990s. Harmon's study not only compels us to look beyond stereotypes of greedy whites and impoverished Indians, but also convincingly demonstrates that Indians deserve a prominent place in American economic history and in the history of American ideas through the twentieth century.

About Alexandra Harmon

Alexandra Harmon is associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of Washington. She is editor of The Power of Promises: Perspectives on Northwest Indian Treaties and author of Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities around Puget Sound.