Possessing Indigenous Places: American Indian Land, Law, and Identity in Louisiana

AHA Session 167
Saturday, January 5, 2013: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Balcony I (New Orleans Marriott)
N. Bruce Duthu, Dartmouth College
New Orleans and the Wider World
N. Bruce Duthu, Dartmouth College

Session Abstract

Louisiana is an ideal location for examining the complex and dynamic relationships with place that American Indian communities possess over time.  How indigenous people have lost, acquired, and protected their land varies widely even within this single state, raising important questions about tribal identity and legal status across Indian country.  Originating in a shifting borderland between empires, the Choctaw-Apaches confronted the vexing challenge of racialist and nationalist ideas.  As migrants to Louisiana more than two centuries ago, the Coushattas struggled repeatedly with an uncertainty over status shared by many groups that voluntarily relocated into new territory.  Still situated deep inside their ancient homeland, the Chitimachas nonetheless experienced an intense vulnerability of possession because of their proximity to Louisiana’s plantation economy.  Efforts by all three groups to secure federal recognition during the twentieth century, which will be explored in these papers, offer insight into the intertwined roles that both place and story play in the endurance of indigenous lives.

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