The politics of disease: The Indian Vaccination Act, 1832

Regardless of a thirty year history in which United States federal officials accepted responsibilites for preventative health care for Native Americans, vaccination protection for smallpox was not offered to Native Americans until 1832, after millions of non-Native peoples throughout the western world had already been vaccinated. This protection was not offered until smallpox threatened federal removal programs and as a result, protection on a limited basis was provided to designated tribes, which excluded Mandan Indians, leading to a loss of 90% of their tribe during the smallpox epidemic five years later. With every aspect of their lives changed or destroyed, a study of the Mandan women offers an informative and powerful view of the carnage that smallpox visited on this community. Carnage that could have been alleviated by vaccination protection.


J. Diane Pearson


Tom Holm





Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 P358
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences