Native but Foreign
Indigenous Immigrants and Refugees in the North American Borderlands
History - Immigration History - Borderlands Studies - Native American Studies - Western History
6 x 9, 304 pp.
10 maps. Figure. 2 tables. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 06/27/2018
Connecting the Greater West Series
Price:        $40.00 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Native but Foreign

Indigenous Immigrants and Refugees in the North American Borderlands

Brenden W. Rensink

In Native but Foreign, historian Brenden W. Rensink presents an innovative comparison of indigenous peoples who traversed North American borders in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, examining Crees and Chippewas, who crossed the border from Canada into Montana, and Yaquis from Mexico who migrated into Arizona. The resulting history questions how opposing national borders affect and react differently to Native identity and offers new insights into what it has meant to be “indigenous” or an “immigrant.”

Rensink’s findings counter a prevailing theme in histories of the American West—namely, that the East was the center that dictated policy to the western periphery. On the contrary, Rensink employs experiences of the Yaquis, Crees, and Chippewas to depict Arizona and Montana as an active and mercurial blend of local political, economic, and social interests pushing back against and even reshaping broader federal policy. Rensink argues that as immediate forces in the borderlands molded the formation of federal policy, these Native groups moved from being categorized as political refugees to being cast as illegal immigrants, subject to deportation or segregation; in both cases, this legal transition was turbulent. Despite continued staunch opposition, Crees, Chippewas, and Yaquis gained legal and permanent settlements in the United States and successfully broke free of imposed transnational identities.

Accompanying the thought-provoking text, a vast guide to archival sources across states, provinces, and countries is included to aid future scholarship. Native but Foreign is an essential work for scholars of immigration, indigenous peoples, and borderlands studies.

BRENDEN W. RENSINK is assistant director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and assistant professor of history at Brigham Young University. He resides in Orem, Utah.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Brenden Rensink’s deeply empathetic treatment of Cree, Chippewa, and Yaqui migrants into the United States is a long overdue effort to put border-crossing native peoples at the center of modern North American borderlands history.”—Benjamin H. Johnson, coeditor of Bridging National Borders in North America: Transnational and Comparative Histories and author of Bordertown: The Odyssey of an American Place

“That people can be indigenous and alien at the same time is a testament to the caprice of national borders, and a reminder of their coercive power. Brenden Rensink recovers the struggles and improbable victories of Chippewas, Crees, and Yaquis who sought to escape state violence by migrating to the U.S. This timely, probing book has something important to say about indigeneity, migration, and national belonging.” —Brian DeLay, UC Berkeley, author of War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War

"This book is an important and welcome addition to North America’s continental, comparative, borderlands historiography. Bringing the experiences of Indigenous peoples in the US-Canadian and US-Mexican borderlands into the same analysis represents a long-overdue step forward for the field. Rensink’s analysis will also encourage a broader and historically-informed reconsideration of the meaning of words like immigrant and refugee, and the nature of Indigenous sovereignty." --Shelia McManus, author of The Line which Separates: Race, Gender and the Making of the Alberta-Montana Borderlands


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