Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Karen Blair

Second Committee Member

Daniel Herman

Third Committee Member

Stephen Moore


This thesis considers the life of Margaret Larsen Splawn—Yakima rancher, historian, and clubwoman—in order to better understand the role played by white women and Native Americans in the Indian policy reforms of the 1930s. Splawn participated in crafting a history of the West that was characterized by tension. On the one hand, she glorified Native American cultures and, on the other hand, she lauded the white settlers who had stripped Native Americans of their traditions and resources. This thesis contends that, while problematic, these tensions proved productive, inspiring Splawn to correct past injustices by echoing Indian concerns in local and national forums. Through her and women like her, Indians were able to guide protests against policies that denied Native American sovereignty. Thus, though sometimes overlooked in the scholarship, white women and Native Americans played a crucial role in Native American policy reforms of the early twentieth century.