Standing Up to Colonial Power


Standing Up to Colonial Power

The Lives of Henry Roe and Elizabeth Bender Cloud

Renya K. Ramirez

New Visions in Native American and Indigenous Studies Series

304 pages
19 photographs, index


December 2018


$40.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2018


$40.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2018


$40.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Standing Up to Colonial Power focuses on the lives, activism, and intellectual contributions of Henry Cloud (1884–1950), a Ho-Chunk, and Elizabeth Bender Cloud (1887–1965), an Ojibwe, both of whom grew up amid settler colonialism that attempted to break their connection to Native land, treaty rights, and tribal identities. Mastering ways of behaving and speaking in different social settings and to divergent audiences, including other Natives, white missionaries, and Bureau of Indian Affairs officials, Elizabeth and Henry relied on flexible and fluid notions of gender, identity, culture, community, and belonging as they traveled Indian Country and within white environments to fight for Native rights.

Elizabeth fought against termination as part of her role in the National Congress of American Indians and General Federation of Women’s Clubs, while Henry was one of the most important Native policy makers of the early twentieth century. He documented the horrible abuse within the federal boarding schools and co-wrote the Meriam Report of 1928, which laid the foundation for the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Together they ran an early college preparatory Christian high school, the American Indian Institute. 

Standing Up to Colonial Power shows how the Clouds combined Native warrior and modern identities as a creative strategy to challenge settler colonialism, to become full members of the U.S. nation-state, and to fight for tribal sovereignty. Renya K. Ramirez uses her dual position as a scholar and as the granddaughter of Elizabeth and Henry Cloud to weave together this ethnography and family-tribal history.

Author Bio

Renya K. Ramirez (enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Gender, Belonging, and Native American Women: The Activism of Sarah Deer and Cecelia Fire Thunder and Native Hubs: Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond. Ramirez is the executive producer, co-producer, screenwriter, and co-director of the film Standing in the Place of Fear: Legacy of Henry Roe Cloud


"Ramirez tells a valuable story of indigenous resistance and a family legacy of activism."—Publishers Weekly

"The themes that Ramirez presents in this book are of great relevance today to the ways in which we examine Indigenous resistance in the settler colonial state, making this book extremely useful and accessible to scholars in a variety of fields, from Indigenous studies, to anthropology, geography, and history."—Deondre Smiles, Great Plains Quarterly

"These elegant family sources reveal Henry Cloud as a genuinely indigenous person. Ramirez emphasizes, for example, how her grandfather loved to tell Winnebago Trickster (“Wakdjunkaga”) stories.  And these stories are as marvelous and complex as this storyteller."—Dennis (Denny) J. Smith, Nebraska History

"An important and informative examination of the careers of two brilliant and proficient activists."—Jay Freeman, Booklist

"Ramirez pulls from archives and personal letters to give us a full picture of her grandparents' activist work, including the contradictions, at a time when Indian activism was virtually unheard of."—Mark Anthony Rolo, Progressive

"Ramirez's work offers both an intimate story of a scholar's family and insights into how Native Americans navigated and shaped twentieth-century settler colonialism as it operated through institutions that allowed some space for Native participation."—Mark Boxell, Kansas History

"Ramirez offers priceless insights into the Clouds’ lives as Native intellectuals coming of age in the oppressive early decades of the twentieth century."—K. Tsianina Lomawaima, Native American and Indigenous Studies

“Moving. . . . This is the first project authored by a descendant of these leaders and offers a uniquely nuanced understanding of their activism. The book is a beautiful contribution to the literature on the early twentieth-century Native American experience and honors the life and legacy of two extraordinary leaders.”—Amy Lonetree (Ho-Chunk), associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of Decolonizing Museums:  Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums

“Renya Ramirez explores how Ho-Chunk and Ojibwe cultures influenced [her grandparents’] shared visions. . . . [and] discusses the vital work of these two leaders in a deeply personal voice.”—Lisbeth Haas, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of Saints and Citizens: Indigenous Histories of Colonial and Mexican California

“Ramirez’s insightful biography of Henry and Elizabeth Cloud is an excellent example of ‘writing from home,’ and shows us the full richness of the Clouds’ lives as well as their important legacies, both personal and political.”—Cathleen Cahill, associate professor of history at Pennsylvania State University and author of Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869–1933

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 
1. Henry Cloud’s Childhood and Young Adulthood   
2. Society of American Indians and the American Indian Institute   
3. Henry Cloud’s Role in the Meriam Report, the Indian Reorganization Act, and the Haskell Institute   
4. The Work of Henry and Elizabeth Cloud at Umatilla          
5. Elizabeth Bender Cloud’s Intellectual Work and Activism 

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