Citizens of A Stolen Land: A Ho-Chunk History of the Nineteenth-Century United States


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

Historian Stephen Kantrowitz reconsiders the Civil War era by focusing on one Native American tribe's encounter with citizenship. In 1837, eleven years before Wisconsin's admission as a state, representatives of the Ho-Chunk people yielded under immense duress and signed a treaty that ceded their remaining ancestral lands to the U.S. government. Over the four decades that followed, "free soil" settlement repeatedly demanded the further expulsion of the Ho-Chunk people. Many lived under the U.S. government's policies of "civilization," allotment, and citizenship. Others lived as outlaws, evading military campaigns to expel them and adapting their ways of life to new circumstances.

After the Civil War, Reconstruction's vision of nonracial, national, birthright citizenship excluded most Native Americans. Stephen Kantrowitz shows how the Ho-Chunk, who remained in their Wisconsin homeland, understood and exploited this contradiction. By professing eagerness to participate in the postwar nation, they gained the right to remain in Wisconsin as landowners and voters while retaining their language, culture, and identity as a people. This virtual program is based on Kantrowitz's recent book, Citizens of a Stolen Land: A Ho-Chunk History of the Nineteenth-Century United States (2023).


Stephen Kantrowitz is Plaenert-Bascom and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has taught since 1995. He received his Ph.D. in history from Princeton, where he worked with Nell Irvin Painter. His previous works include Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy, which was a New York Times notable book and won several scholarly awards, and More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889, which was a finalist for both the Lincoln and the Frederick Douglass prizes. His most recent work is Citizens of a Stolen Land: A Ho-Chunk History of the Nineteenth-Century United States (The University of North Carolina Press, 2023). Kantrowitz is also active in public-facing history projects at UW-Madison, including a study of the Ku Klux Klan on campus in the early 20th century; the Center for Campus History, which explores histories of exclusion and resistance on the campus from its beginnings to the present; and Our Shared Future, a faculty-staff collaboration which seeks to educate the campus about its Native American past and present.