During the early reservation era federal policies were crafted and implemented with the overarching objective to progress Native peoples along the social evolutionary ladder toward self-sufficiency and societal integration into the fabric of Euro-American civilization. A central area of directed social change among reservation communities was American Indian families and households. Federal bureaucrats and Indian reformers believed that the home was the keystone of political, economic, and social order. A civilized home, policymakers believed, was a cornerstone to living in a civilized society. Thus, American Indian societies must be structurally reorganized, economically and socially, to model targeted attributes of Euro-American society. The ideal familial household was nuclear, composed of a husband, wife, and children. Using primary documentation, in concert with the ethnohistorical record, this paper examines the manner in which federally imposed political policies and socio-economic forces affected Chippewa-Cree family structure and fertility during the early twentieth century reservation period.
- historical family and household demography
- political economy
- reservation policies