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Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869-1933 (First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies (University of North Carolina Press Hardcover)) Hardcover – June 20, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Innovative and compelling reading by a promising young scholar. . . . Cahill writes beautifully. . . [and] her research and significant interventions into historiographic trends make this an important book.--Journal of Social History

An in-depth social history of the United States Indian Service. . . . Well-researched, interesting, even inspirational, Cathleen Cahill's Federal Fathers and Mothers highlights Indian history and the American historical context and brings the term 'intimate colonialism' solidly into the lexicon.--Southwestern American Literature

This work is essential in understanding the history of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.--The Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians

A social history in the best sense of the term.--New Books Network

Cahill's work is perceptive and astute . . .[and] offers uncommon insights into myriad other topics.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

[A] gracefully written social history.--H-SHGAPE

A groundbreaking account.--Ethnohistory

An outstanding investigation of the Indian Service and its employees. Cahill's work bolsters scholarship, challenging the unidirectional impact of empire and colonialism by demonstrating the domestic consequences of imperialism.--Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

A useful addition to the literature of government-Indian relations and assimilation.--Wicazo Sa Review

Cahill offers the first in-depth social history of the agency during the height of its assimilation efforts.--McCormick Messenger

Will appeal to scholars interested in colonialism and Native American studies, especially students of the assimilation era in the United States. Beyond North America, Cahill's work will be of use to scholars interested in the social history of large governmental agencies and the employees who implement the broad directives of policymakers.--H-Florida

A new perspective on Indian-U.S. relations during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. . . . An essential library addition for all scholars of federal policy and colonialism.--Western Historical Quarterly

A valuable contribution to Indian history.--Western Legal History

A major contribution to our understanding of how gender and ethnicity shaped Indian affairs in this era. The book is well written and deeply researched, and it gives readers a sophisticated and informed account of an era that remains understudied.--North Carolina Historical Review


Cathleen Cahill's extraordinary book examines the functioning of the Indian Service unlike any previous book. Her superb research makes important contributions not only to the history of American Indians but also to the history of U.S. development, understandings of internal colonialism, and the complex gendered and racial dimensions of Indian-white relations.--Linda Gordon, New York University|With fresh, insightful analysis, Cathleen Cahill reveals how ideas about gender, masculinity, and the family influenced and defined nineteenth-century policies about assimilation. Federal Fathers and Mothers is a major and valuable contribution to our knowledge of the Indian Service, its workforce, and their influence on tribes, communities, and individual Native lives in the United States.--Brenda Child, University of Minnesota, author of Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940

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Product Details

  • Series: First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies (University of North Carolina Press Hardcover)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; First Edition edition (June 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807834726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807834725
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,948,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nawana on December 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In addition to being eminently readable, this book is a fascinating look inside the Indian Service or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA--native people say the initials really stand for "Bossing Indians Around" rather than "Bureau of Indian Affairs"). Cahill uses the stories of individual employees to illuminate the history of the Indian Service and its effect on Indigenous people. Whether they were employed by the Indian Service or simply impacted by Indian Service programs, the BIA is an integral part of many native peoples' lives. Cahill's meticulous research and respectful approach to the stories of Indigenous and white Indian Service employees makes her a convincing and trustworthy narrator. The story she tells is replete with details and context. If you are interested in any aspect of Native American history, read this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book! A new historical perspective of the Native experience and the influence of the Indian Bureau on development of social service programs in the United States.
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