Academic interest in the study of forced migration as a specific field developed only in the late 20th century. But its conceptual tools had a much earlier incarnation in the United States. In the early 20th century historical linguistic and ethnographic research was being conducted with Native American peoples who had been subjected to massive ethnic cleansings in the preceding two centuries. Much of that early work was with tribes who had been displaced, dispossessed, and involuntarily marched into resource-poor reservations. The scientists working with them thought they were engaging in a kind of salvage operation to record ways of life before they disappeared. These researchers largely ignored or failed to recognize the impacts of displacement—destroyed settlements, land occupation, nonviable reservations, inadequate welfare, and hostile administrations and lack of legal rights—and focused instead on trying to reconstruct memory culture of “what life was like in the old days.” Nevertheless, these studies gave us many of our basic concepts to describe and analyze the experience of uprootedness and dispossession. These fundamental concepts have become important in the discipline of forced migration studies. They include understandings of: role and identity, hierarchy, social networks, conflict mechanisms, reciprocity and trust, boundary creation, rites of passage, liminality, and the role of myths.