Scholarship on Native American economic activity in the assimilation period tells a story of unscrupulous whites, fraud, and failure, often identifying the policy of competency as the culprit. Judging from these accounts, one might assume that being declared competent was almost always bad news for Native Americans, but perhaps particularly for women—who were less likely to have exposure to the world of business. The records of the Quapaw Agency in Oklahoma from the 1910s and 1920s tell a different story. The impact of competency on Native American women was not always bleak. Competency sometimes gave women control over significant property. Some women of the Quapaw Agency were skilled in business practices, negotiated successfully with the agency, and controlled both their finances and their destinies.

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