Panel Presentation Abstracts
"'Driven Up the Red Waters:' Southeastern
Captivity Narratives and Indigenous Voices of Exile in the Wake of Removal"
As Jacksonian Indian removal gets underway in the early 1830s, captivity narratives situated in the southeast continue to be produced, though the genre begins to show signs of understandable exhaustion as its authors find it more and more difficult to convincingly present captive, dispossessed southeastern Indians as captors trading in and on white identity. I argue that these narratives attempt to frame Indian removal in a variety of ways, but that the genres available to removal-era writers often fail to frame or contain the catastrophic traumas and political failures of removal. Mrs. Mary Godfrey's An Authentic Narrative of the Seminole War (1836), for example, works as none-too-subtle Jacksonian propaganda, while the Narrative of the Life and Sufferings of Mrs. Jane Johns (1837), also set in Florida, commodifies white women's suffering and white male grief in startlingly explicit ways. Both elide captivity altogether (though these texts continue to be generically categorized as captivity narratives), opting instead to depict local Indians as gangs of all-consuming homicidal psychopaths who need to be removed. Yet the Jane Johns narrative in particular also presents her life as inseparable from Indians and Indian attacks; this inseparability—in the face of any and all cultural assumptions that Indians and whites are or should be separate—raises teasing questions about the cultural and literary costs of removal. This paper sets out to uncover, in the textual record of broken or otherwise flawed framings of removal, previously overlooked evidence of non-Native ambivalence toward and even grief over Jackson's policies, cross-hatched with Native outrage, grief, and resistance. Captured in a variety of written accounts, these Native voices articulate the beginnings of an Indigenous literature of exile that enters into complicated dialogic relations with the interestingly overwrought southeastern captivity narratives of the same period.
“Transfers of Power: Tenskwatawa,
George Catlin, and the Fate of Indian Sacred Performance”
Richard White ends his hugely influential The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (1991) with a portrait of the prophet Tenskwatawa as an abject figure whom time and circumstance have passed by, a superannuated relic pathetically narrating his visions of power to pioneering ethnologist C. C. Trowbridge, who casually seized these once-sacred materials, “recorded them, filed them away, and forgot them” (523). White’s coda reflects the ethnohistorical commonplace that the collapse of the intertribal confederacy headed by Tenskwatawa’s brother Tecumseh marked the death knell of the “middle ground” of the book’s title, the realm of intercultural accommodation, exchange, and emergence. In White’s words: “the final dissolution of this world came when Indians ceased to have the power to force whites onto the middle ground. Then the desire of whites to dictate the terms of accommodation could be given its head. As a consequence, the middle ground eroded. . . . Americans invented Indians and forced Indians to live with the consequences of this invention” (xv). White’s picture of the unilateral “invention” of the Indian is a familiar one in studies of nineteenth-century literature as well, which commonly represent Indians as absences, revenants or remnants whose “power” has become little more than a commodity to be bandied about in white stories and on white stages. Tenskwatawa’s fate–what Gregory Evans Dowd terms his having “given up the fight” and lost all but “vestigial religious authority” (194)–thus seems an apt image of sacred power leeched away and turned to the interests of the Indians’ conquerors.
Yet Tenskwatawa, it turns out, makes a particularly poor choice for such an elegy. His performances of sacred power persisted long after the disbanding of Prophetstown; in physical form as pictographs and other non-alphabetic literacies, as well as in intangible form as an ideology of Indian unity and resistance, the Shawnee prophet’s sacred power reappeared throughout the nineteenth century (though, to be sure, in novel configurations) among both Indian revivalists and white conspirators in Indian decline.
In this paper, then, I use the figure of Tenskwatawa to suggest an alternative reading of Removal-era literature and culture, a reading that emphasizes the ongoing processes of cultural contact, conflict, and exchange–the transfers of power–that shaped Indian-white relations during the period. In particular, I focus on antebellum exhibitor, interpreter, and impersonator of the American Indians George Catlin, who had met with Tenskwatawa in the 1830s and painted the portrait that currently graces the cover of Dowd’s book. In Catlin’s written and pictorial works, as well as in his American and European lecture tours, one observes the processes whereby Indian sacred power was commodified and commercialized during this period: a precursor of the late-century traveling medicine carnival (and of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West), Catlin’s show did indeed seek to invent the Indian for white consumption. Yet at the same time, Catlin’s immersion in the sacred performances of the Indian peoples he documents and displays imposed limits on his authority, determining his failure to dictate the terms of encounter. The meeting of Catlin and Tenskwatawa thus provides a powerful symbol of Roger Abrahams’s argument that “even in the midst of the most belligerent interactions, both sides are deeply affected by the other’s presence. And once put into practice, these culturally transferred effects continue to ripple through the lives of those involved and of those who inherit the memory of these occasions” (180). In numerous, demonstrable ways–through acts of imitation, adoption, and adaptation–Indians and whites left what Abrahams terms “traces on the skin of the other” (180) throughout the era of Indian removals; indeed, they leave such traces still. As such, by rejecting the claim that the productive (as well as destructive) cross-fertilization of Indian and white power that is the legacy of all Americans had come to a close during the age of removals, reservations, and state-sponsored massacres, this paper argues that Indian sacred performance has long played a significant, indeed a definitive, role in the constitution of America.
Abrahams, Roger D. “White Indians in Penn’s City: The Loyal Sons of Saint Tammany.” In Riot and Revelry in Early America, ed. William Pencak, Matthew Dennis, and Simon P. Newman, 179-204. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.
Dowd, Gregory Evans. A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745-1815. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
“Peculiar connections: Vincennes factionalizes over Prophetstown”
Although several historians have examined the people and ideas behind Prophetstown, none have effectively traced its ideological influence on the people of Vincennes. R. David Edmunds, Gregory Dowd, Richard White, and Robert Owens have all written monographs that examine the key figures or historical context of Prophetstown and Vincennes, but no historian has studied how Prophetstown shaped the racial politics of Vincennes. Although the Prophet’s forces never attacked Vincennes, Prophetstown became an ideological tool for how political factions within Vincennes challenged each other. One faction consisted of local anti-slavery advocates who saw Prophetstown as relatively peaceful, while the other pro-slavery men and supporters of Harrison saw the settlement as hostile and the embodiment of savagery and British intrigue. Understanding the factionalism within this town helps us trace the peculiar and intricate dynamics undergirding racial perceptions in the early Republic.
During the period from 1807 to 1812, several residents found themselves accused of aiding the Prophet because they had opposed the introduction of slavery into the territory, or because they had offended the Harrisonians. Although the evidence is lacking for one to prove whether or not the anti-Harrisonians actually aided the Prophet (so accused), it remains clear that the Harrisonians utilized Indian affairs as a tool to silence and degrade their political enemies. Furthermore, it is apparent that the residents of Vincennes disagreed as to the threat Prophetstown represented, but that this disagreement arose not simply out of their perceptions of Indians but also out of their stance on slavery. By tracing the peculiar connections and behavior within Vincennes during this period, it becomes quite clear that the politics of slavery influenced perceptions of Indians.
“Secession and Civil War?
The American Revolution in Cherokee Country”
As the American colonists broke from the mother country and declared their independence from Britain in the summer of 1776, the Cherokees faced their own crisis as a distinct community of people. The onset of the American Revolution forced Cherokees to engage the conflict, and the result was far from unanimous. Although nearly all Cherokees were embittered by continual land encroachments from American settlers, not every mountain villager agreed upon the best means of safeguarding their homes and lands. Some favored neutrality and were reticent to become involved in the “white people’s war.” Others openly sided with the British and sought to counter American expansion by force of arms. Perhaps the most well known leader of this latter faction was Dragging Canoe, a warrior who led hundreds of Cherokees away from their ancestral lands to form new villages down the Tennessee River. These dissidents eventually became known as the Chickamaugas, and they continued fighting the Americans until 1794, more than a decade after the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war between Britain and the United States.
Standard interpretations of this period of Cherokee history are both thin and unconvincing. Many scholars label the removal of Dragging Canoe and his followers the “Chickamauga secession,” which denotes a formal withdrawal from the Cherokee political community. These scholars envision a sharp break between Cherokee peoples, arguing that the Chickamaugas created a splinter tribe that ultimately led to a Cherokee “civil war.” These interpretations, however, fail to accurately convey the Cherokee experience during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Indeed, the Chickamaugas did not sever political or kinship ties to those Cherokees remaining on ancestral lands but actively maintained these connections in both war and peace. Furthermore, there is scant evidence of Cherokees fighting or killing other Cherokees during the Revolutionary Era. Infrequent political assassinations did occur in the early nineteenth century, but even this political factionalism can in no way be construed as a civil war.
Throughout this paper I argue that instead of envisioning the American Revolution in Cherokee country as an example of secession, ethnogenesis, or civil war, the conflict should be more appropriately understood within the context of Cherokee regionalism. The failure to explain the Chickamauga experience within the context of regionalism is surprising since nearly every work on the pre-Revolutionary Cherokees identifies regional settlements as key to their socio-political organization. Scholars are usually quick to point out that towns and villages were clustered in the Lower, Middle, Valley, and Overhill regions, stretching from the Savannah to the Tennessee Rivers. Yet, the Chickamaugas are viewed as outside this historical continuity, representing a war faction whose people cut ties to the Cherokees in order to carry out attacks against the Americans until they finally made peace in 1794. The Chickamaugas, however, did not become a new people or tribe; rather, they were the founders of a new region who decidedly shaped the subsequent political and territorial configuration of Cherokee country.
“What makes a borderland a “borderland”?
Indigenous perspectives on the Spanish borderlands”
Interest in frontier and borderland research, and Native peoples within borderlands regions, has grown exponentially over the last 20-30 years, especially in the discipline of history. This research has generally portrayed borderland areas as arenas of “intercultural penetration” where Europeans and Native peoples interacted more freely, sometimes even creating a “middle ground” where neither European nor Native beliefs were hegemonic. Instead, a mutually and jointly constructed and comprehensible world emerged: one structured by the belief systems and practices of both Europeans and Native peoples. The ability to create such “middle grounds,” or to even have social interaction that was not rigidly and fully structured by European desires and demands, was the product of geographic locale: because borderlands were far from centers of European power, the dissemination of that power was incomplete. This allowed for more fluid interaction between European and Native peoples.
While this model has done much to give voice and agency to Native peoples in the construction of the histories of borderlands regions, it remains problematic in the sense that it continues to present the histories of the places we call “borderlands” or “frontiers” from the perspective of European colonizers. The Pueblo peoples of New Mexico did not see themselves as inhabiting a “borderland,” even after the arrival of Spanish colonizers in 1540. For the people of Zuni, their home represented the opposite: the “middle place” or the middle of the world. Thus, what were remote geographic areas to some people were “home” to others – the center of Native polities. Furthermore, an analysis of Pueblo and Spanish interaction demonstrates that, despite being so far from the center of Spanish power, social relations between the two groups were far from “fluid.” This does not mean that social relations might not be fluid in other borderlands areas (and in fact there is evidence that supports this assertion); what it does mean is that the character of social relations varied from place to place in these regions. It is difficult, in other words, to make generalizations about the character of social relations in frontiers.
Thus, we must ask ourselves if there is any way to make the model more inclusive of non-European perspectives, or if it is profitable to even continue to argue that areas like New Mexico were “borderlands” regions where European and Native peoples interacted more freely.
A Métis Who Avoided the 1838 Potawatomi Removal”
Several publications have focused on the archaeological investigations of the Marshall County village site of Potawatomi leader Stephen Benack, a métis (mixed French and Native American) who was able to avoid the Potawatomi removal in 1838 (Schurr 1997; 1998; 1999; 2006; Bollwerk 2006). Although archaeologists have referenced historical sources, there is not yet an in-depth study based on historical documents pertaining to Benack. The Indiana Historical Bureau recently assembled the known sources of information, located additional documents, placed them in context, and raised questions for further research.
In 1830, the United States Congress passed an Act for the removal of Native Americans from their homelands to locations west of the Mississippi River. President Andrew Jackson attempted to justify this legislation in a Congressional Address: “[The Native American] is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home.” The largest single removal of Potawatomi, known as the “Trail of Death,” occurred in 1838; almost 900 Potawatomi were forced to leave northern Indiana and relocate to Kansas. Some Native Americans from various tribes were able to avoid removal.
Wkama (Potawatomi leader) Stephen Benack, born circa 1782 to a Canadian father of French descent and a Potawatomi mother, was one who avoided the 1838 Potawatomi removal and remained in Indiana with his family. The evidence suggests that the balance between his Native American identity and the American perception that he was not a threat—his work with land agents, his European heritage, his daughter’s marriages, his economic status, and his willingness to “mingle with [the U.S.] population”—saved him and his family from the Trail of Death.
“Pachumu Hope's Confession
and the Ambiguities of Indian Conversion"
In July, 1666, in the Indian village of Mashpee, a group of seven Christian Indians participated in a ceremony that would lead to the gathering of the first Indian congregational church in Plymouth Colony. In the climactic stage of the ceremony, each Indian proselyte delivered a confession of his sins and his faith. The basic elements of the Mashpee confessions are very similar to those recorded at Natick, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1652 and 1659. For example, all of the Mashpee converts try to distinguish clearly between their former, pre-Christian selves and world-views, and their later, Christian understanding of (and belief in) such concepts as sin, redemption, and grace. And most of the Mashpee confessants allude to the role played European-borne diseases, in their devastating impact on native communities and on the traditional understanding of the relationship between spiritual power and human well-being. But the last confession in the Mashpee set by an Indian identified as "Pachumu alius Hope" is different enough from the others, and from the earlier Natick confessions, to undermine that "conversion paradigm," whereby (according to Neal Salisbury), first missionaries, and then modern mission scholars, have applied a faulty, 'either/or' logic to the ambiguous dynamics of native Christianization.
Pachumu/Hope's confession is ambiguous in several striking ways. For instance, earlier Indian confessions, and some of those from Mashpee, contain forceful disavowals of traditional healing practices, and of the powwows, or native healers, who were frequently arraigned in the mission literature as the agents of Satan. But in Pachumu/Hope's confession, the powwows are depicted fairly positively indeed, almost as if they were the harbingers of the missionaries themselves. Even more notable is the way that Pachumu/Hope depicts the general relationship between traditional and Christian spirituality, not as radically opposed, but as complementary, even continuous, in their teachings. For Pachumu/Hope, Christian conversion did not seem to require a rejection of all that was "Indian." Instead, he suggests that the lessons he learned from scripture and from the missionaries were consistent with what he had been told by "the old men" in his youth, before the arrival of the missionaries. Whether we interpret Pachumu/Hope's remarkable blending of Indian and Christian religious ideas as an example of syncretism or as the unconscious projection of his Christian present upon his Indian past, his confession opens a new avenue in the scholarly effort to reconstruct what Christian conversion meant to the Indians.
Moreover, recalling that Pachumu/Hope's confession was ostensibly approved by his English referees including Richard Bourne of Plymouth Colony, who took down the confession, and John Eliot of Massachusetts Bay, who transcribed all of the Mashpee confessions and then sent them to the New England Company in London this unusual document also sheds new light on the missionaries themselves. Sometimes cast as a "cultural revolutionary" who demanded that Christian Indians cast off virtually everything that seemed to make them Indians, the Eliot who tacitly approved Pachumu/Hope's ambiguous confession may in fact have been, or may have become, a cultural gradualist with regard to the Indians' spiritual self-fashioning. Such a conclusion can only be tentative, but it suggests that the ambiguities of Indian conversion were felt at the English as well as the native end of the process.
“Native Confederation, Pan-Indianism, and
Hendrick Aupaumut’s Ohio Valley Diplomacy”
A Mahican sachem who fought on the American side of the Revolutionary War, Captain Hendrick Aupaumut was tapped by President George Washington to serve as a diplomat to the British-allied Miami and Shawnee leaders who fought against white frontier settlers. Aupaumut’s 1792 “A Short Narration of My last Journey to the Western Contry,” a detailed record written for U.S. governmental officials, was printed in the 1827 Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. In this paper, I consider how Aupaumut conceives of racialized alliances within the context of eighteenth-century natural historical and nativist theories about racial difference. To do so, I first analyze the mode of production of Aupaumut’s published text. Some of the purported “mistakes” in Aupaumut’s manuscript incisively perform in grammatical (mis)usage the racialized problematics of linguistic and political representation, narration, and U.S. nation-state and Indian confederacy establishment. The basic question these “errors” raise—how race plays a role in constituting political alliances—frames my discussion of “color” in Aupaumut’s text. Aupaumut, in his treaty negotiations with western tribes, evokes the concept of “one color” to advance a theory about what constitutes racial alliance. For him, race does not result from various “modes of life” (as many white natural historians thought), nor does it spring from separate creations (as the nativist Indians held). Rather, he depicts “color” as a part of one’s past and identity that can be mobilized politically, even if members of a group do not agree on what “race” itself is. For him, “whiteness” can be separated into the British and the Americans; at the same time, natives of the same “color” can join together despite tribal differences. Thus, Aupaumut’s use of “color” reworks varying conceptions of racial difference in the late eighteenth century.
“Salt Mountains and Horned Frogs”: The Politics of Removal
and the Publication of John Tanner’s Narrative.”
John Tanner’s narrative of his life among the Great Lakes Ojibwe and Odawa was published in April 1830, the same month that the U.S. Senate passed its version of the Indian Removal Bill. The events leading up to the publication of the narrative and to its reception afterwards cannot be divorced from the national debate over removal that was then taking place. Edwin James, the army surgeon who took down Tanner’s account, used the introduction to Tanner’s narrative to speak out against the removal bill. At the same time, Lewis Cass—territorial governor of Michigan but soon to be Secretary of War under Jackson—and Cass’s protégé, the Indian agent Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, both advocates of removal, were anxious to counter whatever influence the anticipated publication of the narrative might have on public opinion. At Cass’s urging, Schoolcraft went out of his way to discredit the narrative (at the same time discrediting its source, John Tanner).
This paper will analyze the introduction to John Tanner’s narrative in light of the national debate over removal. It will place the introduction to the narrative—where Edwin James defends Tanner—squarely in the middle of that debate, and it will show how the introduction was informed both by the character of the debate and by James’s bitter opposition to the injustice of removal. The advocates of removal prevailed. In this climate of opinion, the legitimate claims of the narrative, like those of the southern tribes, were generally ignored, and the reputations of James and Tanner, as well as their work together, suffered from the defeat of the anti-removalist cause.
“Race & Nation for the Haudenosaunee
in the Age of Handsome Lake”
Handsome Lake’s awakening to the Good Message in 1799 has been characterized as a rebirth of Seneca tradition in a time of cultural upheaval: the loss of 95% of Seneca lands after the Revolution, the changing roles of women and warriors, the beginnings of the reservation system, and the disruption of the Central Fire of the Longhouse all put extraordinary pressure on traditional social organization and governance. Despite the novelties that Handsome Lake seems to have adopted from Euroamerican religion and culture, his vision also built upon a Native discourse of Indigenous resistance that had been vocalized at various times across the continent since contact. Like his peers, Red Jacket and Joseph Brant, employed a variety of traditional Native practices and beliefs to meet the exigencies of a new age.
In this paper I examine two Haudenosaunee figures who became associated with Native nationalism during Handsome Lake’s nativist vision: Joseph Brant and Red Jacket. I argue that although both politicians employed the Euroamerican idea of “nation” in their diplomacy, they were still attempting to expand Indigenous frameworks of governance, and, as a result, their careers may be misunderstood as exemplars of Indian nationalism. In this regard I am reading Brant and Red Jacket through Handsome Lake as politicians attempting to modernize Native political systems in an Indigenous fashion. Brant attempted to re-constitute the central Fire of the Six Nations at Grand River during the early years of Handsome Lake’s awakening, exploiting pan-Indian alliances among the Ohio Valley Indians to force the British into granting Brant’s government freehold title to Grand River. Similarly, Red Jacket spoke at several explicitly pan-Indian councils (1792; 1810; 1816) where he advocated pan-Indian unanimity and peace, and banked on this reputation at home on behalf of the Senecas in his interactions with state and federal authorities. Although both Brant and Red Jacket realized that they needed to characterize their people’s political claims in terms of the national values of the dominant powers on “turtle island” (and the British and American heard them in that way), they were attempting to re-fashion Indigenous governance for the modern age.
Religion in the Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee Phoenix, the first American Indian newspaper published in the United States, offers significant opportunities for analyzing the performance of Indian identity in print culture through its articulation of a version of Indian identity which powerfully contested several decades of newspaper and other literary representations of American Indians. As a bilingual paper which printed its content in English and the recently developed Cherokee syllabary, the Cherokee Phoenix functions as a stage for the Cherokee-controlled textual performance of Indian identity and politics enacted before multiple audiences, consisting of English-language readers, Cherokee-language readers, and bilingual readers.
While the paper included overtly political writings as well as information on Cherokee history and culture, this essay trains its attention on content related to religion. The paper’s editor, Elias Boudinot (Cherokee) could seem to have included this material in fulfillment of what the paper’s prospectus described as its fourth major purpose: the inclusion of “Miscellaneous articles, calculated to promote Literature, Civilization, and Religion among the Cherokees.” Given the stated goal of the paper, a reader might conclude that articles with religious content were primarily directed at Cherokee-language and bilingual readers (presumably also Cherokees) and that the Cherokee Phoenix operates as a primer for inculcating Christian religious values and behaviors in Cherokees in alignment with notions undergirding civilization programs of the era.
Two facts trouble this conclusion, however: 1) only approximately 18% of Cherokee households at the time included a person literate in English, and 2) aside from some translations of bible verses or prayers, Boudinot did not translate the rest of the paper’s religious content into Cherokee. These two pieces of information require a reconsideration of audience and a recognition that this material must have largely been directed at the paper’s English-language readers, who were primarily, though not exclusively, Euroamerican. If Boudinot did not intend the religious content to effect its stated purpose—the “promot[ion] of Literature, Civilization, and Religion among the Cherokee”—then the performance such material enacts becomes radically less stable, enabling recognition of the ways the paper attempts to bring into being a notion of Cherokee identity through its publication. To English-language readers, articles on religious topics may have suggested a “civilized” identity in the process of being achieved in the very columns of the paper, at the moment of reading. Rather than functioning, then, as a primer—a metaphor which positions the paper as a static text and Elias Boudinot as teacher, with Cherokees as passive recipients of instruction and English-language readers as benevolent onlookers of the assimilative and conversion processes—the Cherokee Phoenix emerges as a site for the production of a performative rendering of Cherokee identity, one acutely attuned to its audience and the contexts of its production and reception. This paper illuminates, therefore, the Cherokees’ effective entry into and manipulation of an important print cultural form during crucial years for their Nation.
“The Treaty as Ban:The Treaty of Hopewell
and the Construction of American Sovereignty”
Due to the written promises they make regarding land tenure and usage, American Indian treaties have increasingly become spaces for asserting indigenous sovereignty. However, in contrast to a scholarly approach that begins with the influential work of Vine Deloria and others and reads the treaty as a means of reimagining relations between the tribes and the United States, I will interpret one particular treaty as a vital component to the formation of US hegemony. The 1785 Treaty of Hopewell between the United States and the Cherokees reveals the treaty as an act of national sovereignty that binds not only the members of the tribes, but also the citizens of the thirteen states. As the treaty demarcates the rights and protections due to both groups, it also envisions a political entity capable of enforcing such boundaries.
The Cherokee Treaty of Hopewell was the first of three pacts made between the United States and the tribes of the upper South. The occasion for this treaty arose as the states of North Carolina and Georgia asserted their claims to Indian land, and encroachment by white settlers led the powerful Cherokee chief Dragging Canoe to threaten war against the US. In this context of escalating hostility between the tribes and the white residents, the negotiations at Hopewell represent the Congress’ efforts to create a consistent national Indian policy before rising tensions over expansion led to a full-scale war with the tribes. The treaty thus represents the efforts of the weak federal government under the Articles of Confederation to perform its sovereignty before the more powerful states.
This treaty casts the Cherokees as an independent group outside the American body politic, while simultaneously declaring them under US protection. In contrast to the idea of treaty partners as brothers that Robert A. Williams, Jr. has attributed to the Eastern Woodlands tribes, the Treaty of Hopewell imagines the Cherokees as dependents of the United States, yet denies them the ability to claim the rights of citizenship. The treaty also warns that any US citizen who attempts to settle on Cherokee land forfeits all protection as a citizen, and may be punished by the Cherokees as they please. Through the exclusions built into the treaty, we can observe the beginnings of a process of defining who does and does not constitute an American subject. My analysis of this treaty contributes to the record of failed promises between the US and the tribes, while also uncovering the broader effect that early treaties have had in shaping the origins of American democracy.
“Native Allies, Native Enemies:
Miantonomi’s Use of Colonial Deliberative Rhetoric”
In 1643, Uncas, sachem of the Mohegans, executed his long-standing enemy, Miantonomi, under the observation and authority of the newly-established United Colonies of New England. Prior to this, both Uncas and Miantonomi had long-established and mutually beneficial alliances with English colonists in Massachsetts Bay and Connecticut, as each had assisted the English in fighting the Peqouts in 1637 and vying for hunting rights and Pequot survivors following the war. Nevertheless, as enmity between the two sachems grew and English colonists perceived an increase in danger likely to result from open war between the two, the United Colonists stepped in, ruling in counsel that “it would not be safe to set him at liberty” (Winthrop 472).
Historians like Francis Jennings have often read the United Colonies’ decision as the inevitable consequence of insatiable English land hunger. However, I argue that employing a lens of deliberative rhetoric on Miantonomi’s speech and actions allows us to view the narrative of his life in terms of his agency and active participation in political decisions for himself, his tribe, and his allies. Deliberative rhetoric is the process though which citizens discuss and decide upon the future course of action likely to bring them the greatest future benefit. Miantonomi engaged in deliberation by forming an alliance with the Bay Colony, frequently contacting and offering advice via Roger Williams, a sympathetic mediator. Through this alliance, Miantonomi gained material and political benefits for his tribe. Miantonomi’s independence from colonial leaders is also significant, allowing him to speak powerfully for a Pan-Indian alliance and maintain the right to pursue Uncas, his enemy. Miantonomi’s effective use of deliberative rhetoric allowed him to pursue a vision for the future of his tribe through the means available. And when Miantonomi’s deliberation turned toward Native alliances rather than English, he became a potentially explosive enemy.
Examining the ways that Miantonomi deliberated allows us to see how he used strategic alliances to participate in discussions about the future of his tribe, and ultimately how he influenced discussions of the English colonial project in North America. Looking at Miantonomi’s early engagement in deliberative rhetoric through alliances and English mediators can provide insight into the ways that Native Indian leaders gained power and influence both in the early colonial period and up to the ninteeth century.
“‘Who Will Regard Us?’
Native American Orators and the American Visual Field”
Recent scholarship on the figure of the Native American orator has explored the ways in which the rhetorical performance of the Indian speaker both reinforces and subverts dominant discourses about civilization, savagery, citizenship, race, and identity. Samson Occom (Mohegan, 1723-1792) and Elias Boudinot (Cherokee, 1800-1839)—both “eloquent savages” and “republican Indians”—layered political and aesthetic performances to simultaneously embody and resist colonial influence on Indian identity, and to navigate the subjugating forces of colonial power relations. As Sandra M. Gustafson writes in Eloquence is Power, “Occom created [a novel performance mode] in the course of his career: a hybridized, evangelical, savage persona, whose liminal position between cultures permitted a range of identifications across cultures” (91). Gusftafson argues that speakers like Occom, in developing a model of Indian republicanism out of this liminal subjectivity, created an image.
While Gustafson deftly performs several close analyses of visual representations of Occom, she doesn’t delve into the development of the image of the “eloquent savage” as a specific visual citation in both the Native American and white colonial imaginaries. Visual images of American Indians in the late 18th century to mid 19th century were derived not only from popular visual culture—photographs, drawings, portraits, wood carvings—but also from the “visualizing drive” of Native American rhetorical performance, both in the content of the speech and in the embodied physicality of the performance. In tracing the relationship between popular visual representations of Occom and Boudinot, the physical performances of their speech-giving, and the visual content in their rhetoric, I employ similar methodology as Shawn Michelle Smith in American Archives (a ground-breaking exploration of how race and gender were constituted in 19th century visual culture). Smith writes, “The scope of my study expands the domain of visual culture to include literary representations that pose subjectivity and social power as mediated by various gazes, and cultural concepts implicitly informed by visual metaphors” (7). Popular visual depictions of Occom and Boudinot whitewash the figure of the Indian orator, depicting the men as close approximations of the ideal white colonial man. A close analysis of these images reveals—borrowing from Homi Bhabha’s theories about mimicry and the colonized Other—the close-but-not-quite-ness in Indian “mimicry” of white subjectivity. I connect the subtle anxieties in these images to the rhetorical performances in Occom and Boudinot’s speeches, whereby the men cast their subject-positionality as liminal and strategically posit themselves as simultaneously white and native.
This paper marks an intervention in traditional cultural analysis, which tends to treat visual and written texts in separate spheres, with very little overlap or mutual consideration. I argue that to better grasp the complexities of racialized subjectivities, we need to consider the exchange of visual and written texts as interrelated performances that influenced dominant ideas about “white” and “native” identities in the early American national imaginary.
“‘No great friend of Indians’: Politicians, Economic Development, and the Failed Brothertown Migration to the White River (1809-1825)”
In the summer of 1817 a small boat, aptly christened the Brothertown Enterprise, slowly made its way up the Wabash River towards Vincennes, the former territorial capital of Indiana. Aboard the boat were seven Brothertown Indians from New York whose objective it was to negotiate with Delaware headmen the purchase of some land along the White River. Hoping to escape declining economic and political autonomy in New York, Brothertown leaders had begun making arrangements in 1809 to relocate their community to lands in the Ohio Valley. Over the following seven years Brothertown representatives had toured potential sites and had met with chiefs from the western nations in order to prepare for a possible migration. The 1817 trip to Indiana hopefully would serve as a culmination of these efforts as the Brothertown Indians obtained Delaware permission to settle along the White River. In this they would find disappointment for the following summer the United States purchased in the Treaty of St. Marys all Native land claims in Indiana, and it prevented any Brothertown migration to Indiana. Despite the delivery of numerous Brothertown petitions to Washington, the government refused to grant them permission to settle on the White River. This paper presents the aborted Brothertown migration to Indiana as an example of how expansion and economic growth in the Early Republic came at the expense of Native land ownership and sovereignty.
“Wampum and Tribal Theory:
Haudenosaunee Oratory and Material Culture”
Iroquois wampum form the underlayment of Haudenosaunee political structure, longhouse philosophy, and worldview(s). According to Ongwe Onwe (Iroquois) oral tradition, wampum were first invented by Deganawidah to console Ayonwentha in his grief after the death of his daughters and wife, and they still play an indispensable role in the condolence ceremony and raising up of chiefs. Wampum’s centrality to Haudenosaunee material culture cannot be underestimated: in fact, Mohawk political scientist Taiaiake Alfred contends that the condolence ceremony, which wampum pictorially record, functions as a decolonizing methodology for Iroquois nations. In a related vein, Anishinaabe theorist Gerald Vizenor has sketched the outlines of an Ojibwe critical theory based upon Mdewiwin pictographic records, and this paper seeks to illustrate how Haudenosaunee wampum belts and their ongoing “voicing” in Iroquois narratives form the foundation of a Haudenosaunee critical theory. In this paper, I examine treaty speeches and Indigenous oratory as represented by Benjamin Franklin and Conrad Weiser, and discuss how Haudenosaunee politicians, such as Canassatego and Sagoyewatha (Red Jacket), shaped and formed the treaty-making process along Indigenous lines through modeling longhouse political protocol in their engagement of the thirteen colonies. The intersections of recorded oratory and the display, narration, and exchange of wampum enact and affirm a tribally-normative narrative and understanding of the political entities involved in the creation of treaties. The usage of wampum, indigenous images, and traditional oratorical formulae force the colonial government and its officials to engage Indigenous worldview(s) and priorities, and they provide a vital canonical narrative to contrast with that of the settler authors like Franklin and Weiser. This paper outlines the unique features of Indigenous treaty discourse and practice and contends that the treaty wampum remain an unexamined source of Turtle Island historical narrative as well as a visible manifestation of tribal theory. I will examine several short examples of Canassatego and Sagoyewatha invoking tribal knowledges in their treaty oratory and articulating indigenous cosmology as a strategy for countering colonial predatory land negotiations.
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Oxford University Press, 1999.
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Broadview Press, 2005.
Brooks, Lisa. “Two Paths to Peace: Common Visions of the Common Pot in the Ohio
Valley” in The Boundaries Between Us: Natives, Newcomers, and the Struggle
for the Old Northwest, 1740-1840, edited by Daniel Barr (Kent State University
Press, 2005): 87-117.
Colden, Cadwallader. The History of the Five Nations Depending upon the Province of
New-York in America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1958.
Ganter, Granville, and Red Jacket. The Collected Speeches of Sagoyewatha, or Red
Jacket. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2006.
George-Kanentiio, Doug. Iroquois Culture and Commentary, Santa Fe, New Mexico:
Clear Light Publishers, 2000.
Grinde, Donald A., Jr., and Bruce E. Johansen. Exemplar of Liberty: Native America and
the Evolution of Democracy. Los Angeles: American Indian Studies Center, 1990.
Johansen, Bruce, and Barbara Mann. Encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois
Confederacy). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000.
Mann, Barbara, editor. Native American Speakers of the Eastern Woodlands. Westport,
Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001.
Mihesuah, Devon, and Angela Wilson, eds. Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming
Scholarship and Empowering Communities. Lincoln: University of Nebraska
Parker, Arthur C. Parker on the Iroquois. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1968.
Thomas, Chief Jacob, with Terry Boyle. Teachings from the Longhouse. Toronto:
Stoddart Press, 1994.
Thwaites, Reuben. Early Western Journals: 1748-1765; By Conrad Weiser, 1748;
George Croghan, 1750-1765; Frederick Post, 1758; and Thomas Morris, 1764.
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Wennawoods Publishing, 1998.
Wallace, Paul. White Roots of Peace: The Iroquois Book of Life. Santa Fe: Clear Light
“Tobacco, Taste, and the Atlantic Roots of English Empiricism”
This paper considers the epistemological effects of Native American tobacco practices on the English in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. As I argue, colonists gained substantial knowledge about the cultivation and use of the crop from contact with Native Americans. More significantly, however, such contact also caused English subjects on both sides of the Atlantic to adopt ‘Indian’ sensibilities of taste that they believed would provide them with privileged information about the Americas and, hence, an advantage over their main imperial competitors, the Spanish.
The primary texts I analyze include Thomas Hariot’s A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588), one of the earliest English-language texts to provide a detailed description of tobacco. In his account, Hariot makes clear that his knowledge derives substantially from the Native Americans he has met by referring to it as “Uppówoc.” After describing the medical and religious uses to which Native Americans have put the plant, Hariot continues by praising its healthful effects and by noting that he and the other colonists, even after their return to England, “suck it after their [the Native Americans’] manner.” Admitting to the transculturation of his consumptive preferences, Hariot concludes by claiming that his adherence to Native American habits has resulted in “experiments” that would “require a volume by it selfe” to describe. While such a statement could be considered mere hyperbole, Hariot’s words also could be taken to suggest that the English learned about more than material practices of consumption from Native Americans: they also began to think that their senses of taste, as long as they were properly modeled after Native Americans ones, could be productive of scientific, as well as potentially profitable, knowledge about the New World they were seeking to colonize. Furthermore, Hariot invokes the Spanish in his description of tobacco only to downplay their assimilation of Native American ways. Triangulating the English in relation to both Native Americans and the Spanish, Hariot thus implies that the English can achieve a medical and imperial superiority, as long as they inhabit a position of relative Indianness.
Other works published in the decades following the appearance of Hariot’s report reiterate these views about taste and the desirability of modifying English senses to mimic Native American ones. For example, a 1595 pamphlet by Anthony Chute also praising the medical benefits of tobacco constantly returns to examples of Native American customs and manners. Significantly, Chute also denigrates Monardes, one of the foremost Spanish authorities on tobacco, as having insufficient first-hand knowledge of its effects. Attributing both Native Americans and the English with the practice of properly empirical methodologies based on taste, Chute suggests that knowledge derived via such cross-cultural, sensory procedures can be considered more accurate and valuable than knowledge derived from textual sources. Ultimately, then, this paper will move to an evaluation of the links between the development of science in the seventeenth century and the valorization of Native American practices, which I will argue form a foundational yet overlooked basis for English empiricism.
Constructing Whiteness in Colonial New Netherland”
In this paper, I argue that seventeenth-century Dutch colonial writers represent Indians as authorities on Dutchness. In narratives from New Netherland, Indian utterances define what it means to be a good Dutch citizen and serve to support the Dutch writers’ credibility. Other scholars, such as Benjamin Schmidt, have previously argued that the moment of contact and colonization constituted a paradigm shift in Dutch perceptions of Indians; whereas in the sixteenth century, the Dutch viewed America’s native inhabitants as brethren and fellow victims of Spanish oppression, Schmidt claims that in the seventeenth century the Dutch began to view themselves as morally and cultural superior to the Indians and thus able to defend and protect the Indians from Spanish aggression. Instead, my paper demonstrates that Dutch view of Indians in the seventeenth century was more nuanced. Not only do authors continue to employ Indians models of what constitutes Dutchness, but also they cast them as authorities on Dutchness itself. While Dutch authors tend to view natives in their texts as other, they let these others speak and define Dutchness and by extension whiteness.
Dutch reformed minister and missionary Johannes Megapolensis’s Account of the Mohawk Indians (1643) is representative of the ways in which Dutch accounts of Indians work to both define Dutch identity and affirm Native cultures’ legitimacy, albeit in a problematic manner. Megapolensis’s narrative condemns many of the Mohawk cultural practices and traditions. For this reason, it is striking that he reports the Mohawks who observe him delivering a sermon to Dutch colonists ask him why he continues to admonish the Dutch if they fail to listen to his preaching anyway. Therefore, Megapolensis highlights the Mohawks’ verbal condemnation of the Dutch failure to live up to the religious values they propagate. Despite his rejection of Mohawk culture in general, Megapolensis includes this particular Mohawk utterance to attack his Dutch countrymen and to suggest that Dutchness and moral uprightness should be connected. Other Dutch colonial authors, ranging from Harmen Meyndertz van den Bogaert to Adriaen van der Donck, also include examples of Indian speeches in their narratives that are directly aimed at Dutch readers. These utterances allow the authors to represent Indians as independent observers of true Dutchness and as mouthpieces of moral uprightness.
The Dutch colonial writers’ willingness to let Indians speak as authorities on morality and cultural integrity suggests that the Dutch, unlike many of the English writers, were not yet willing to completely disregard native agency or to obscure native knowledge. Consequently, while Dutch representations of native speech primarily serve to extend the moral and cultural criticisms of their Dutch writers, they also provide a glimpse into Indian perceptions of the Dutch as others. By pointing out the Dutch moral and ethical failures and by implicitly constructing Dutchness and possibly whiteness, the Indian speakers, despite the authorial limitations on their speech, construct Indian identities.
"The Marshall Trilogy and the Rise
of Liberal Imperialism in the U.S."
John Marshall’s decision in Johnson v. McIntosh (1823) famously transformed indigenous peoples from recognized owners of land to those who merely occupied it, and it was immediately used to justify indigneous possession in the U.S., and later, in Australia and Canada. The case is regarded as the foundation of U.S. property law, and it was one of the few U.S. cases to have had an international impact, and always to justify indigenous dispossession. Recent historical work on the case addresses the decision’s discrepancies and odd turns of argument. In Conquest by Law: How the Discovery of America Dispossessed Indigenous Peoples of their Lands (2005), legal historian Lindsay G. Robertson, on examination of recently-discovered archival material relating to the case, argues that John Marshall tailored his decision to protect the claims of Virginia land speculators and did not wish the case to have the effect that it did. Robertson argues that in the two subsequent cases of the “Marshall trilogy,” Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia (1832), Marshall attempted to return to the legal recognition of indigenous ownership, which, legal historian Stuart Banner points out in How the Indians Lost their Land: Law and Power on the Frontier (2005), maintained from the early 17th century in British North America. Banner and Robertson offer significant insight into the formation of liberal imperialism in the U.S., such that the Marshall trilogy becomes a case study of the emergence and institutionalizing of a justification for and ideology of imperialism founded on liberal principles, one in which an abstract, world-historical narrative of the triumph of savagery over civilization naturalizes the empire so that it becomes, in William Appleman Williams’s phrase, a “way of life.”
Liberal imperialism positioned European government as a paternalistic, benevolent entity seeking the improvement, reform, and civilizing of the colonized, and promising, someday, their political incorporation as equals--once they were civilized enough. The colonized were backward children in a state of tutelage, or in Marshall’s term, “pupilage.” This was a transnational European phenomenon in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and according to a range of scholars, is still broadly operative today. In the U.S., it must be remembered that the vast majority of indigenous people didn’t petition to become citizens, and that they used the imperial history of recognition of their ownership of land to argue for their political autonomy. The difference of U.S. liberal imperialism from its European cognates is in the degree of abstraction of its imperial ideology, and the power of its exceptionalism, both of which phenemona this paper argues are inextricable from the problem of a history of having recognized indigenous ownership of land for an empire that must both expand geographically and invent itself ideologically on the continent, rather than at a geographic distance.
“William Apess and Pan-Indian Nullification”
Indian Nullification (1835) marks the highpoint of William Apess’s career as an activist and reformer. Yet while it shares with A Son of the Forest, “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for Whites” and “Eulogy on King Philip” a pan-Indian sensibility and a strident oppositional politics, it has attracted comparatively less attention, perhaps because of its hybrid nature. The Mashpee Revolt, in which the Mashpee Wampanoags directly opposed white encroachment on their land and won independent township status from the Massachusetts government, is a critical turning point in the ongoing struggle to regain native sovereignty. Apess’s narrative of the tribe’s struggle is supplemented, even overwhelmed, by the addition of letters, trial transcripts and newspaper accounts of “the pretended riot.” The hybrid nature of the text, I argue, is the key to its success: Indian Nullification marks a new language of pan-tribal identity and cross-cultural protest that grows out of earlier struggles to redefine Indian sovereignty in the face of European colonialism, and that anticipates the pan-Indian movement that would emerge at the 19th century’s end.
Tecumsah’s and Tensakawa’s founding of Prophetstown is one crucial context for Apess’s work with the Mashpee – as a former soldier, a minister and a political leader, Apess himself occupied the same roles of the Shawnee brothers. Yet as a Christian Pequot working with New England’s scattered tribes, Apess worked under very different cultural and political imperatives. This paper will focus particularly on how Apess refracted some of the main features of Prophetstown through the lens, first, of New England Indians’ previous efforts to fashion a pan-Indian identity in such places as Stockbridge and Brotherton and, second, through the lens of the various political crises of the 1830s. By drawing on the Nullification Crisis of 1832, the debates about Cherokee removal, and Martin Delaney’s call for black resistance to slavery, Apess, in Indian Nullification, establishes a pan-Indian project that allows for a flexible political and cultural identity. The key for Apess is to bring sympathetic white voices into Mashpee discourse while preserving tribal cohesiveness and autonomy. Since much of the white opposition to the Mashpee cause centered on Apess’s ability, as a Pequot, to represent the tribe, much of the force of his narrative focuses on nullifying white categories of Indian identity. In its place, he constructs a multi-voiced discourse that begins with Apess and his Mashpee brethren but extends outwards to include a wide array of his white neighbors. Apess’s strategy is at once tribal, pan-Indian and cross-cultural. It managed to preserve one native community in an American legal and cultural system that relentlessly enforced the vanishing of countless others.
“Community-Building and Separatism in Two Hymns
by Samson Occom”
Any history of North American pan-Indianism would be incomplete without some discussion of Brotherton. As a place, a pilgrimage, and a cultural movement, Brotherton enabled many Northeastern Indians to re-imagine and legitimate their position within an overwhelmingly white-dominated region. Led by such individuals as Samson Occom and Joseph Johnson, the Brotherton Indians looked to Native Christian identity as an axis for intertribal self-(re)definition and community-building. Joanna Brooks, Hilary E. Wyss, and others have made remarkable in-roads for our understanding of Brotherton as a socio-literary movement and religious project. But while scholars do not doubt the creative textual underpinnings of Brotherton, there has been little effort to focus discussion on individual literary works, such as hymns, actually written by Northeastern Indians associated with the movement.
This paper will examine two hymns that Joanna Brooks has recently (2003) attributed to Samson Occom: “A Son’s Farewell,” or, “I Hear the Gospel’s Joyful Sound,” and “Conversion Song,” or, “Wak’d by the Gospel’s Pow’rful Sound.” On the surface, Occom’s hymns do not seem to concern themselves with Brotherton, relocation, or pilgrimage. The paper will argue, however, that if we read the hymns for specific biblical and literary allusion, Occom’s creative intentions clearly point to Brotherton and its goals. Occom’s textual engagement with, and appropriation of, white missionary discourse enacts what I will call a “silent separatism”—a separatism that is rhetorically adjusted towards self-affirmation rather than open renunciation of previous loyalties. Finally, the paper will reveal how Occom uses biblical and literary allusion to successfully re-write Christian missionary experiences of conversion and evangelization as experiences of Native relocation, redefinition, and legitimation.
“British Promises, Indian Disappointment”
This paper evaluates the relationship between British Indian agents and the Native Americans in the Northwest Territory from the end of the American Revolution until the death of Tecumseh. Despite official orders from the British government not to aid the Indians against the Americans, British Indian agents continually skirted the issue and made vague promises of support to the tribes of the Northwest Territory.
Official documents from the British government explicitly denounce any military aid to the Indians against the Americans. However, when British Indian agents met in council with the tribes, they offered assurances of English assistance that was accepted by the confederacy. Although disappointed by lack of British aid at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the renewed Indian confederacy under Tecumseh was forced into an alliance with the British during the War of 1812. Again, British agents made promises of support to the Indians but abandoned them at the Battle of the Thames.
The perception given by British Indian agents, particularly John Johnson, Alexander McKee and Matthew Elliott, allowed the Indians of the Northwest Territory to wishfully believe that British troops would aid them militarily in a war against the Americans. This paper examines the disconnect between messages from British authority to Indian agents and from Indian agents to the Native Americans leading to renewed Indian disappointment in their British allies and the ultimate destruction of the Indian confederacy.
“‘[T]hey had not understood it was to be done that way’:
Colonial Land Transactions, Interpretation, and Equivocation”
While colonial land transfers are copiously recorded in Indian deeds and treaty minutes,
these legal instruments occlude important dimensions to the transactions by fixing the wording of the agreements and presenting it only in colonial languages. The proposed paper will attempt to recover, partially and speculatively, the role of interpretation between languages and other cultural conventions of communication, and of equivocation, which is the intentionally misleading use of language to convey one meaning while acting upon another. Equivocation is an inherent possibility even in intra-cultural communications, but this paper supposes that crosscultural communications were even more susceptible to its use.
Arguably, equivocation was a more recognized concept and practice within European cultures during the colonial era that it is today; one of the larger issues this paper seeks to explore is the degree to which Native Americans and colonists brought to bear different approaches to language use, or language ideologies, that may have factored in the outcomes of their negotiations. A related issue is the respective perceptions of the truth-value of native and colonial languages. For example, did Native Americans agree with the widespread ethnographic perception that native languages were more inherently truthful, with a more fixed correspondence between word and idea?
While colonial accounts efface equivocation and sleights of wording in order to present a legal face to colonial officials and settlers, at least some native accounts attest to it. The quotation in the title of the proposed paper is from a Yuchi account of a transaction on an island “somewhere under the rising sun” in which the “white man” requested of the natives as much land as could be covered with a cow hide; the Europeans then soaked the hide in water, cut it into a thong, and stretched it out in an enormous circle, claiming all the land thus contained. The story is paralleled by Lenape accounts, which specify that the island was Manhattan and the white settlers were from Holland; indeed, it is paralleled by native accounts from sites of early modern imperialism from Africa and Asia, and also by the classical Roman story of the foundation of Carthage by the Phoenician colonist Dido. All of these accounts depict the colonists as bargaining for as much land as could be covered by a hide and then claiming as much land as the hide can encircle.
While most scholars who discuss these hide stories argue that they should be read as folklore or historical allegory, I argue, elsewhere, that they are historical accounts describing a European “ceremony of possession” that was based upon the classical model. Either way, they speak to the native experience of equivocation. The Lenape version, especially, also relates to their experience of English colonization, in particular the 1737 Pennsylvania Walking Purchase, the notorious land fraud through which the sons of William Penn acquired a huge swath of eastern Pennsylvania. In both the hide stories and the Walking Purchase, the colonial grantees deliberately use one agreement to secure the deal, and another to implement it, cashing in the difference. Part of the agenda of the proposed paper will be to speculate about the differences of linguistic value that allowed for this sleight of language, for example, how the Lenape and English understandings of the semantic possibilities of “walk,” “goe,” and “one day and a half” may not have been equivalent.
Cited: Gunter Wagner, Yuchi Tales, ed. Franz Boas, vol. XIII, Publications of the American Ethnological Society(New York: G.E. Stechert and Co, 1931), 158; Patricia Seed, Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World 1492-1640. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
“Carabasset: Performance, Memory,
and the Slaughter of the Norridgewocks”
In 1724 something happened in Maine. That something left dozens of Norridgewock Indians, including a warrior named Carabasset, and one French Jesuit priest dead, and an army of English alive and victorious. To this day, the what of what happened has been fought over along the same sectarian and nationalist lines of the first encounter. Protestant apologists say that the fault of the conflict rests with the French priest, Sebastian Rasle (or Rallé), a gun-toting bigot who manipulated the Indians at his mission into attacks on English settlers in Maine. Catholic apologists have made a martyr of Rallé, blaming the entire conflict on land-hungry English Protestants who simply came for slaughter and killed the peaceable priest at the base of a large cross. Lost in the skirmish are the very reasons for and victims of the encounter, the Abenaki Indians who lived at the settlement at Norridgewock, on the Kennebec River, and faced obliteration of their people in the massacre and the retributory battles that followed.
Of the many memorials to the event, Nathaniel Deering’s 1829 play Carabasset makes some effort to resurrect the Native presence from a century’s old battle. Because it is little-known now, the play reads something like Metamora Lite compared to that better-known and similar memorial to a New England Indian war, and in fact, Carabasset fell a loser to John Augustus Stone’s play in Edwin Forrest’s contest for a drama he could act with a Native American protagonist. This paper will examine Deering’s play as an attempt to perform history, admittedly altered in its facts to serve the ends of the stage, and concomitantly, to serve as a site of memory for actual Natives who lie hidden beneath the romantic and dramaturgical coats of greasepaint that cover the faces of the white performers of Native suffering.
"American Indian Literary Studies
and the 'New Genre' of the Revitalization Movements"
Writing about the Lakota-language manuscripts of George Sword (1847-1890s), anthropologist Raymond DeMaille has argued that scholars need to pay more attention to this “type of Native American literature that developed out of the contact between Indians and anthropologists” (“Plains Indian Narrative” 131). Calling works like the Sword manuscripts “a new genre of native literature,” DeMallie argues that such texts “are not . . . simply written versions of oral narratives but are instead a new type of written narrative” (126).
In my paper, I extend DeMallie’s observation to include the body of Native texts produced in the first half of the nineteenth century as responses to the nativist and revitalization movements that flourished in the period. I examine mixed-blood narrator George Stiggins’s account of Tecumseh and the Red Stick movement. I then compare this account—as narrative and scribal practice—with the narrative of Handsome Lake’s vision and code that appears in the Seneca writer Benjamin Williams’ 1840s transcription of Chainbreaker’s oral narration. I also briefly touch on William W. Warren’s History of the Ojibwe People (1885) to compare its author’s handling of Tecumseh and the genre of autoethnography the book engenders with the previous works. I conclude by re-contextualizing the Life of Black Hawk within these “new genres” of Native narration.
Because books and writing played significant roles in revitalization movements, it is my contention that the manuscript and print narratives I consider in this paper act as “new genres” that attempt to reconfigure the relationship between Euro-American literacy practices and the traditional cultural values Tecumseh espoused.
“Before Pan-Indian: Multiethnic Communities
and Ethnogenesis in the Indigenous Great Lakes”
Historians have often identified the Western Great Lakes during the 17th century and the Ohio Country during the 18th century as the sites of multiethnic indigenous communities created by colonial disruptions. But the archaeological and earliest historical records indicate that migration, multiethnic mixing, and ethnogenesis were processes with some historical depth in the region. Understanding this experience of cultural mixing and acculturation is critical to placing the Pan-Indian messages that arise in these regions between the mid- 18th and early 19th centuries in proper historical context.
The Illinois and Miamis illustrate how these processes worked in the region before the intrusion of European influences. Both groups have a PreColumbian history linked to the Central Ohio Valley, but at the time of European contact were located on prairies to the northwest along the Mississippi Valley. Indeed the Illinois appeared so dominant in and characteristic of the region southwest of the Lake Michigan that the French named it for them. Yet the speakers of the Illinois-Miami language were relative newcomers to the region, intruders into what had been a Siouan ethnoscape. Yet what emerged in the region was not a borderland between Siouan- and Central Algonkian- speaking peoples, but rather a cross-cultural frontier in which peoples, practices, and ideas frequently intermingled through both peaceful and violent exchange. The Illinois and Miamis were both noted for maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with some of their Siouan neighbors. Beyond coexisting, the Illinois and Miamis both came to resemble their Siouan neighbors in both subsistence practices and social organization. Indeed to early French observers the Miamis and Illinois so thoroughly resembled the Winnebagos, Ioways, Oto-Missourias, and Omahas that their distinct languages did little prevent them from being considered together culturally.
Though the more western-oriented Illinois would play little role in the emergence of Pan-Indian resistance in the Old Northwest. Their linguistic kin the Miamis emerged to play a prominent role. In part their significant role in the late 18th century Pan-Tribal confederacy focused around the Au Glaize in northwestern Ohio reflected their relocation eastwards back towards their PreColumbian ancestral homes. But it also reflected their importance in serving as intermediaries between the confederacy focused around the eastern Great Lakes and Indian communities located in the western Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley, communities that they had forged close ties with during the previous centuries.
Though Pan-Indian resistance in the Great Lakes region was clearly a response to colonialism, it emerged out of much older historical roots reaching into the PreColumbian past. Crosscultural exchange, multiethnic communities, and a willingness to reimagine ethnic identities all were important characteristics of indigenous life for at least three centuries, thus Pan-Indian identity was not simply a novel response to a novel challenge, but rather a synthesis of a long historical experience.
“John Lawson’s Indians: Early Eighteenth-Century Portrayal
of Native Americans of the Southeast in a Comparative Context”
During John Lawson’s time in the Carolinas—from his 1701 trip through the Carolinas to his 1710 publication of A New Voyage to Carolina, to his 1711 death at the hands of the Tuscarora—this explorer, entrepreneur, and writer encountered a variety of Native American cultures. In Eastern North Carolina he encountered the Tuscarora, who were of the Iroquoian cultural-linguistic group, as well as the remnants of the Carolina Algonquians; in the Piedmont, he encountered Siouan cultural-linguistic groups, such as the Occaneechi. Lawson included in his New Voyage ethnographic material that has long been used as source material for understanding North Carolina’s indigenous cultures at the time of European contact. However, little has been done to study Lawson as an ethnographer.
In “John Lawson’s Indians,” I will examine Lawson as a writer of ethnography by looking at his methods of portraying the Native Americans of North Carolina through comparison to works by other European writers of the period, particularly those writing about what is now the southeastern United States. These writers will include people such as John Lederer, Abraham Wood, Robert Beverly, Marcos Delgado, Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares, and Juan de Paiva, among others. Questions about differentiation between cultural groups, attitudes about the viability of Native American cultures, as well as writing techniques such as the use of rhetorical devices and the aesthetic form will be addressed.
Tisquantum and the Etiology of Buried Plague”
This paper focuses on a scene variously recounted by Edward Winslow, William Bradford, and Roger Williams, in which Tisquantum, who, “to the end that he might possess his countrymen with the greater fear of us, and so consequently of himself” (Winslow), is said to have threatened fellow Native Americans by claiming that his English friends could control and release the plague at will. A striking feature of this story -and of it’s persistence in English narratives- is that it provides clear evidence that Native Americans understood the European origins of early epidemics in a way that the English settlers did not, and that they attempted to account for these etiologies in ways that colonists felt compelled to diffuse.
In parallel with these observations, I will investigate the work that this scene performs in demonstrating the power of epidemiology to shape political networks, and further consider how its almost obsessive permutations both reveals anxieties about the dispossession of Native American lands, and reifies colonial assumptions about the biological and moral superiority of English settlers.
“Confederating Bodies and Texts: Hendrick Aupaumut,
Prophetstown and the Contestation of Native Cultural Renewal”
This presentation will focus on two types of Native American writing/performance that served political and ceremonial functions during the years of 1790 to 1813. The first example is Hendrick Aupaumut’s Narrative of an Embassy to the Western Indians, a record of his travels among the tribes of the Ohio River Valley that employs a mixture of transcribed native oratory and European conventions of historical documentation. The second is the mythical record of “sacred slabs” and red stick-calendars that the Shawnee brothers Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa purportedly circulated among their allied tribes during the years preceding the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. I explore both texts as examples of a process whereby the breaking and remaking of textual materials corresponds to the breaking and reassembling of native bodies and political organizations, a process that fostered the powerful new language of cultural renewal that was sweeping across Native America at the turn of the nineteenth century.
In placing these texts into conversation with one another, I hope to explore how different expressions of pan-Indian alliance interrogate the possibilities of native cultural persistence: Aupaumut crafted his narrative with the aim of persuading both native groups and the Washington administration that cultural coexistence and exchange could be sustained, whereas Tenskwatawa utilized the forms of ceremony and prophecy to articulate a renewed native identity in sharp contrast to the Anglo-American presence. I will pay close attention to the resonance of the media by which these pivotal figures conveyed their messages, and I will address why the Shawnee brothers’ legacy eclipsed Aupaumut’s vision among both native groups and American readers.
“Borderland Cultures: Transience
And Ethnogenesis in Woodland Indian History”
Anthropologists and historians have made much of sacred geography and the power of place in American Indian cultures. Historian Colin Calloway writes that for the Shawnees “tribal homelands were hallowed ground. They drew both physical and spiritual sustenance from it.” To the Southwest, anthropologist Keith Basso’s powerful assessment of Western Apache “place-making” makes clear the “moral significance of geographic locations.” In Where the Lightning Strikes, anthropologist Peter Nabokov universalizes these ideas. Nabokov contends that American Indian attitudes and ethics about beings and forces that reside in the natural environment . . . remain a bedrock of American Indian belief systems.” Taken together, these general and specific examples of American Indian religiosity converge on a sweeping thesis: that American Indian cultural identity emanates from the land itself.
Such correlations between the place and identity throughout Indian country have complicated our understanding of revitalization movements in the Eastern Woodlands. Woodland communities, most of whom endured a series of voluntary and forced removals from successive homelands, challenge the paradigm of place. Movement became a colonial-era survival strategy for the Shawnees and their neighbors.
The Prophetstown community, and their most famous residents, Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, must be placed in this longer history of diaspora, coalescence, and survival. The woodland peoples who converged at Prophetstown between 1808 and 1811 emerged out of a borderland culture in which everything from ethnic identity to power relations was contingent, contested, and free from the reach of sovereign tribes or nation-states. In this way, Prophetstown became the denouement of diverse, multi-ethnic groups that had been shattered and then reconstituted by the simultaneous assault of European disease, the Indian slave trade, and Iroquois warfare.
Divorced from both a land-based polity and a sacred landscape, the Shawnees and their neighbors managed to avoid coalescence into either Southeastern Indian or Iroquoian coalescent communities. Language, ritual, and cosmogonic myths that were not linked to place and that could be sustained in a wide variety of geographic contexts allowed Woodland Indian communities to survive. The complex play of geography, history, and religion enabled Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh to articulate a vision of reform borne out of a borderland world, more than three centuries in the making.
Plague, Indian “Brabbles,” and History in the New England Colonies”
Around 1622, the Patuxent translator Tisquantum (or Squanto) informed the Wampanoag Indians with whom he lived that the Plymouth colonists stored the plague in their storehouse for gunpowder and that they could send disease to anyone they wished. His story provides a native interpretation of the 1616-1619 epidemics that devastated native communities, while it also asserts his ability to control the flow of information between native and English communities. In native contexts, Tisquantum’s story of disease and power, together with his role as a translator, defined him as a pneise or powwow, a powerful spiritual and political leader who could mediate between spiritual and material worlds. In colonial literatures, writers from Edward Winslow and William Bradford to Thomas Morton acknowledged their dependence upon Tisquantum’s ability to communicate among different cultures; however, they discounted his medical history as “brabble,” or rumor. Because European and native cultures and textualities have been characterized as incommensurable, colonial histories have been seen to omit or distort non-western modes of history and textuality, portraying only European perspectives of Native Americans and colonists’ own cultural expectations, rather than native knowledge. In particular, Tisquantum’s story has been analyzed as having separate meanings in native and colonial communities. This paper analyzes Tisquantum’s association of disease with gunpowder and colonial power in the contexts of native and colonial interpretations of disease and examines how colonists incorporated Tisquantum’s story of the epidemics into colonial histories, even while categorizing it as inappropriate communication. It will analyze the connections between native interpretations of epidemics and systems of textuality and colonists’ discursive technologies for controlling communication—of disease, gunpowder, and information.