Antebellum Representations of Native Americans in African American Public Culture

Friday, January 3, 2014: 3:10 PM
Columbia Hall 5 (Washington Hilton)
Arika Easley-Houser, Rutgers University–Newark
Many scholars have examined the history of racial ideologies within the "Five Civilized Tribes" to understand how certain Native American former slaveholders perceived African Americans before and after the Civil War.  During the last several years, present-day debates questioning the citizenship rights of descendants of enslaved men and women within these tribes, particularly the Cherokee and Seminole Indians, has sparked further attention on historical research about the nineteenth century.  To grapple with these questions, scholars have published research to understand racial ideas about Native Americans by examining interviews of formerly enslaved African Americans conducted in the 1930s by the Federal Writers Project Worker Progress Administrative.  This paper will examine the history of racial ideas and representations of Native Americans which were included in other primary sources written by African Americans during the antebellum era, namely newspaper articles, pamphlets, sermons and speeches, as part of my larger research project. This paper will offer further critical insight by further complicating our ideas about race in the early American republic.