Native Peoples, Settler Colonialism, and the Early Republic

AHA Session 38
Friday, January 3, 2020: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Bowery (Sheraton New York, Lower Level)
Colin G. Calloway, Dartmouth College
Colin G. Calloway, Dartmouth College

Session Abstract

It has been twenty years since the publication of Native Americans and the Early Republic (Charlottesville, 1999), a field-defining anthology edited by Frederick Hoxie. Since then, Native American history has garnered unprecedented scholarly acclaim and, at times, increased public attention. Despite the field’s overall ascendency, however, key historiographical formations both endure and limit interrogation of Native history. Arguably, nowhere is such formation more restricting that in discussions of Revolutionary America and the Early Republic. Indeed, the “Age of Federalism” continues to be taught, understood, and studied as an era in which Native Americans factored limitedly.

The three papers in this session examine the ways that Indigenous peoples and polities shaped the early United States. Ned Blackhawk argues that settler ideologies in western Pennsylvania after the Seven Years’ War fostered violent aggression toward Indians in colonial society and fueled anti-monarchical sentiment. Susan Sleeper-Smith reveals how Native victories over the US Army in the 1790s Ohio River Valley forced President Washington to pursue a policy of peace framed by the priorities of Algonquian-speaking women. Michael Witgen examines Anishinaabeg efforts to assert US citizenship while maintaining their Indigenous identity during the era of Indian removal in the Michigan and Wisconsin Territories. Drawing on his research and publication expertise in this era, Colin Calloway will chair and comment on the session. All these topics highlight the ways that Indigenous peoples countered settler-colonial efforts for their removal and erasure and contributed to the contingent nature of the new United States.

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