Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of History

Committee Chair

Jeff Wiltse

Commitee Members

Jeff Wiltse, Kyle G. Volk, Wade Davies


Northern Montana, American Empire, Reconstruction, Fort Assinniboine


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Agricultural Economics | Environmental Studies | Military History | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | United States History


This thesis explores Fort Assinniboine’s role as an extension of the federal government’s military arm in the Northern Plains. It argues that the military occupation of northern Montana served to incorporate the northern borderland region and peoples into the American mainstream as a part of the national reconstruction processes following the Civil War into the twentieth century. In a period of half a century, north-central Montana transformed from a Native American common hunting ground lacking any major white settlement to a rapidly developing agricultural region. Fort Assinniboine played a central role in this transformation, hastening the economic collapse of the area’s Native populations, controlling their mobility, and making the region amenable to capitalist economic structures. While Fort Assinniboine primarily served as an antagonist to Native sovereignty during its active years, after its decommission a portion of the reserve’s land was repurposed as the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation, thereby operating as a tool for the Chippewa, Cree, and Métis to regain their sovereignty. Fort Assinniboine and the U.S. military presence stationed in the Northern Plains was prerequisite for the region’s white settlement and capital development.



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