After barely escaping the Russian pogroms, journalist Rebecca Clarren’s ancestors acquired a prairie homestead in South Dakota and worked hard to become successful. But as Clarren discovered, that land had been confiscated from the Lakota tribes. The Cost of Free Land draws parallels between Russian laws forbidding Jews to own land and the U.S. government’s broken treaties with Native American peoples. As Clarren investigates her Jewish family history of immigration, she questions both responsibility and atonement.
Rebecca Clarren has written about the American West for more than 20 years. She received the 2021 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Award. Her debut novel, Kickdown, was shortlisted for the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.