‘Dammed Indians’ author Lawson to speak in Timber Lake


Submitted by Dewey County Historical Society

Historian Michael L. Lawson will discuss his book, Dammed Indians Revisited: The Continuing History of the Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux, in Timber Lake on Tuesday, October 2.

The book was published by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press in 2010.

Hosted by the Timber Lake and Area Historical Society, Lawson’s visit is sponsored by the S.D. Humanities Council and the South Dakota Center for the Book. The book was chosen as the featured selection for their 2012 One Book South Dakota Program.

The publication is a revised edition of Dammed Indians, published in 1982, which described the impact of the dams constructed on the Missouri River by the US Army Corps of Engineers on seven of the Sioux tribes.

The 1944 Pick-Sloan Plan created a wealth of economic opportunities for the states lying along the Missouri River but the five giant dams also flooded more than 200,000 acres of land and forced the relocation of Indian families and communities along the river.

In his presentation, Lawson will provide an overview of the book and reflect on the influences and circumstances that caused him to write it.  He will present examples of how the Sioux utilized the Missouri River and the bottom lands prior to the construction of the dams and detail some of the immediate and long-range impacts on them. He will also explain how, since the 1980s, the tribes have gradually been able to reap some benefits of the Pick-Sloan Plan and gain official recognition as stakeholders in the management of the Missouri River system.

The two editions of the book established the historical foundation for understanding the projects, managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, and the continuing efforts by the affected tribes to get fair compensation for their losses.

The author has gathered new information to bring the story up-to-date, adding six new chapters to the original text.

Lawson is a partner in Morgan, Angel and Associates, LLC, an historical and public policy consulting firm in Washington, DC.  During a 20-year career in the federal government, he served as an historian for the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (including three years in the BIA’s Aberdeen Area Office).

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a doctorate in American History from the University of New Mexico.  He is a three-time recipient of the S.D. State Historical Society’s Governor’s Award for History and has also been honored by the Western History Association and the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society for his writing on Native American topics.

Lawson will be featured at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Sioux Falls September 28-30 preceding his appearance in Timber Lake.

The program at Timber Lake will be held in the new middle school theater beginning at 7 p.m. MT.

The One Book program, which began in 2003, seeks to encourage regional conversations on particular themes using a single book. Copies of the book are available (for loan or for sale) at the Timber Lake and Area Museum. (Ph. 605-865-3553)

The program is made possible with a grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.



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