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Washburn L.J.


This article evaluates the phenomenon of Indian ranching from its rise in the late nineteenth century to its potential demise in the early years of the twenty-first century. The article examines the many intertwined factors -- political, economic, cultural, ecological, and spiritual -- that account for Indian ranching's rise, as well as its impending demise. The article asserts that Indian ranching could well have become the Indian-civilizing strategy that helped bridge the vast socioeconomic gulf that existed, and still exists, between the Indian and non-Indian peoples of the northern Great Plains. The article concludes that Indian ranching's impending demise can today be avoided if the federal government and Indian leadership could work together in crafting an effective legislatively driven settlement of two major pending Indian law suits, which could go some distance toward restoring Indian ranching to economic and social viability on the northern Great Plains.