Native American History: New Perspectives, New Approaches, New Frontiers

AHA Session 259
Saturday, January 6, 2018: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Virginia Suite C (Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level)
Roxanne A. Dunbar-Ortiz, California State University, East Bay
Roxanne A. Dunbar-Ortiz, California State University, East Bay

Session Abstract

Reflecting on the “New Indian History” in 2006, Nicolas G. Rosenthal contended that “scholarship on American Indians often remains isolated from larger currents of North American history.” He summarized the breakthroughs made in the decade before his article, but implied that more work was needed. Chaired and commented by the distinguished Native American historian Roxanne A. Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous People’s History of the United States (2014), this panel seeks to discuss new potentials of Native American history and push Rosenthal’s reflection one step further.

In specific, the panel deals with two major trends in current American historiography: the West (or the Continental) and the global. Jace Weaver’s paper “What Lies Beneath” explores Oklahoma Indians’ collaboration with the State’s socialists (among others) in the Green Corn Rebellion against the Great War draft and then in fighting the KKK in postwar years. Jordan Craddick’s “Rethinking Race through the Alaska Example” studies Europeans’ efforts to classify Alaska Natives meant to dehumanize them and set them apart as a pseudo-species and examines the long-term negative consequences. Simon H. Sun’s “The Yup’ik Country” explores how the Yup’ik people living across the Bering Strait was divided by Russian and American imperialism and seeks to bridge the study of Native Siberians and that of Native Americans.

Moving away from the East Coast to Oklahoma, then to Alaska, the panel seeks to challenge the East-centric perspective of Native American history (and East-centric perspective of American history in general); among them, the Sun and Craddick papers ask scholars to pay more attention to Native Americans (and the history in general) of Alaska, which is as large as half of the rest of the United States. By examining how international relations affected the fate of Native Americans, the panel also calls for the study of Native American history in a truly global perspective. The panel, however, does not claim to cover all new potentials and will welcome contributions from the audience.

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