SINAS Research Seminar: “Borderlands of Scandinavian-Indigenous Encounters. Swedes and American Indians in North America, 1840s-1930s"

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Via Zoom - Contact Adam Hjorthén for link
  • Lecturer: Gunlög Fur, Professor of history, Linnaeus University
  • Organiser: Swedish Institute for North American Studies (SINAS), Department of English
  • Contact person: Adam Hjorthén
  • Föreläsning


The emigration to North America in the 19th and 20th centuries led many Swedes to encounter American Indigenous peoples, and to settle on their land. Despite this, research on immigration and on Indigenous histories have been carried out in separate fields with little or no contact, even though these histories occurred in the same place and at the same time. The purpose of this project is to summarize more than a decade of research into contacts between Swedish immigrants and Indigenous nations. Travel accounts, letters, missionary accounts, objects, and newspapers are combined with maps, court records, and oral accounts to narrate concurrent histories, encounters, and conflicts, and consequences on both sides of the Atlantic. The study is significant as Swedes and Norwegians were among the earliest of European immigrant groups to arrive in large numbers and settle areas not yet dominated by the U.S. They participated in and became tools for a policy of dispossession of Indigenous peoples from the Midwest. Simultaneously, popular images grew in Sweden of particular friendships between Swedes and Indigenous peoples. This research shows how interactions created dependencies and perceptions that connected American Indigenous peoples, Swedish Americans, and Swedes in a transatlantic borderland with consequences for histories of migration and for how the division into separate fields led to both silences and romantic notions regarding “Indians” and Swedes.