Faculty member in Geography and Native American Studies, The Evergreen State College

Lab 1, Room 3012, 2700 Evergreen Pkwy. NW,

Olympia, WA 98502 USA


Tel. (360) 867-6153

Faculty home page
Community service
Favorite stuff


Treaty conflicts and environmental cooperation

between Native American and rural White communities


Zoltan Charles Grossman

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002

529 pages; ISBN: 0-493-76089-X

Adviser: William Cronon

(for ordering information, 24-page preview, and 25.16 Mb image-only PDF )


The dissertation compares alliances of Native Americans and rural whites (particularly ranchers, farmers, and fishers) in the 1970s-2000s in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It asserts that the level of interethnic cooperation is a key element in the success or failure of a movement for protection of a multiethnic rural area. The dissertation explores how and why certain groups of rural whites and Native peoples joined to protect a natural resource (such as fish or water) that had previously been a source of conflict between them. A perceived outside threat--such as a mine, dam, power plant, transmission line, or flight or bombing range--facilitated new bonds between local Native and non-Native communities. The alliances redrew perceived community boundaries to define neighboring ethnic "outsiders" as "insiders" who are dependent on common natural resources or a land base. These "geographies of inclusion" were more pronounced in areas that had experienced the most intense interethnic conflict over natural resources. The "particularist" assertion of Native American identity had not been in contradiction to a " universalist" project to bring together Native and non-Native communities. Interethnic unity strategies based solely on universalist commonalties (such as environmental protection) tend to fail without a concurrent process of equalization that respects particularist differences (such as Native treaty rights). Most strategies for ethnic conflict management focus on the national scale and the common bond of political citizenship. Ethnic conflict managers have not paid adequate attention to local or regional territorial identity as one strategy for addressing socially based conflict in multiethnic settings. A territorially based, multiethnic "place membership" may be more effective than "state citizenship" in lessening ethnic conflict and increasing cooperation between local communities.
List of maps
List of interviews
I. Salmon, Dams and Water in the Pacific Northwest
II. Reflection on Ethnic Conflict Management
III. Military Projects in the Great Basin and Upper Midwest
IV. Reflections on Interethnic Movements and Environmental Justice
V. Ranchers, Farmers, and Indians on the Northern Plains
VI. Reflections on Sharing Sacred Land
VII. Fishing and Mining in Northern Wisconsin
VIII. Reflections on Exclusion and Inclusion
The Cowboy Indian Alliance Rises to Protect Our Common Land and Water,
on Common Dreams, Indianz, Native News Today, Z, Counterpunch, Portside (2014)
Unlikely Alliances: Idle No More and Building Bridges Through Native Sovereignty,
on Z, Counterpunch, Unsettling America (2013)

Winona LaDuke interviews Zoltan Grossman on Unlikely Alliances, KKWE Niijii Radio, White Earth, MN (7/2/14).

"Unlikely Alliances: Treaty Conflicts and Environmental
Cooperation Between Native American and Rural
White Communities," Powerpoint lecture at
Association of American Geographers (AAG),
Chicago 2006; U.W.-Stevens Point Earth Day 2005,
and talk at U.-W-Eau Claire Faculty Forum 2006.
Article in American Indian Culture and Research Journal
(AICRJ), Vol. 29, No. 4 (2005).
"Defending a Common Home: Native/non-Native
Alliances Against Mining Companies in Wisconsin,"
With Dr. Al Gedicks in In the Way of Development: Indigenous Peoples,
Civil Society, & the Environment. See map.
(London: Zed Press, 2004).
"Crandon mine victory won by a historic alliance,"
with Debra McNutt in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram (Nov. 2, 2003)
and other websites and papers.
"Cowboy and Indian Alliances in the Northern Plains."
Agricultural History (Spring 2003 , Vol. 77 no. 2).
Effects of White Racial Advantages in Environmental Alliances
on Wisconsin Ho-Chunk/farmer alliances against low-level jet flights,
bombing range, and Perrier, at Association of American Geographers (AAG)
annual conference, Los Angeles, 2002.
"Place membership" in ethnic conflict management: the case of Native Americans
and white ranchers/farmers, on rural environmental alliances in Oregon, Montana,
and South Dakota, at Association of American Geographers (AAG)
annual conference, New York, 2001.
Geographies of Inclusion: Interethnic Alliances for Environmental
Protection, on Wisconsin spearfishing and mining disputes,
at Association of American Geographers (AAG) annual conference,
Pittsburgh, 2000. Winner of 2000 AAG American Indian Speciality Group
student paper competition. Also at WestLakes AAG, (Northern Illinois
University, DeKalb), and Midwest Sociological Society conference (Chicago).
"Let's Not Create Evilness for This River: Interethnic Environmental
Alliances of Native Americans and Rural Whites in Northern Wisconsin."
In Forging Radical Alliances Across Difference: Coalition Politics for the New
Millennium. Jill M. Bystydzienski & Steven P. Schacht, eds. (Boulder:
Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).
Removal Reversed: Native/non-Native joint management of reclaimed lands,
on Kickapoo Valley, Sauk Prairie, and Crandon mine sites
in Wisconsin. PowerPoint at Association of American Geographers
(AAG) annual conference, New Orleans, 2003.
Native environmental justice and the Crandon mine (PowerPoint).
Lecture with Kenneth Fish (Menominee). Summer Institute on Environmental Justice
(U.W.-Madison) and Western Mining Activists Network conference (Albuquerque).
Wisconsin's Native/non-Native anti-mining alliance, with
Dr. Al Gedicks in Cultural Survival Quarterly, 2001.
"From Enemies to Allies: Native Americans and Whites Join Forces
in Wisconsin," with Debra McNutt, in ColorLines, 2001, and
in Multiracial Formations: New Instruments for Social Change.
Native and Environmental Movements," in Z magazine (Boston), 1995.
Chippewa treaty rights issues, 1989-91.