American Literature Indian Removal
by
Angela Calcaterra
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 May 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199827251-0199

Introduction

“Indian Removal” refers to the forced migration of Indigenous communities from their homelands in what is currently the United States. It is often connected to a particular era (the 1820s and 1830s), federal policy (the Indian Removal Act), or event (the singular Trail of Tears). Yet dispossession from ancestral lands has been persistent and pervasive and is an ongoing, lived reality for many Indigenous people. From the first moments of their arrival in what they would call the Americas, Europeans expelled Native Americans and confiscated their lands for themselves. Natives lost not only land but also familial bonds, historical information, sites of religious significance, and ecological knowledge. Beginning with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, in which the United States acquired a vast territory west of the Mississippi, federal efforts to compel Indians to exchange land holdings in the east for lands west of the Mississippi intensified. This practice developed into a political program of ethnic cleansing during the 1820s and 1830s, particularly under the presidency of Andrew Jackson. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 targeted the large southeastern nations (Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles), but since those nations were forced into western territories its effects spread immediately across the Mississippi to tribes such as the Osages. Removal of western tribes onto reservations continued into the 20th century. Many lesser-known communities in the north, such as the Delawares, experienced multiple removals over centuries. The Delaware Tribe currently resides within the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, a forced positioning that has made it difficult for the Delawares to gain federal recognition. Today, the erasure of Indigenous presences and histories from the United States’ national consciousness contributes to public sentiment supporting ongoing forms of removal. Racist sports mascots, stereotypes in film and television, and societal ignorance of specific Native histories and cultures perpetuate the political and cultural marginalization of Indigenous people. It is thus important to recognize the “removal period” as one of immense suffering for the more well-known tribal nations, while also acknowledging removal’s deeper history and ongoing effects. Equally important, Indigenous communities and individuals have always protested and countered the many forms of removal with their own writings, media, cultural practices, and legal and political actions. As it documents scholarship and creative work on Indian Removal, this bibliography also attends to what Anishinaabe author Gerald Vizenor has termed “Native survivance . . . an active sense of presence over absence, deracination, oblivion.” It highlights the voices and presences of Indigenous authors, scholars, and activists who work to reclaim the past and reimagine the future.

General Overviews

Traditional overviews of Indian removal focus on US federal policy and at times take a sympathetic approach to what they view as a paternalistic government attempting to deal rightly with a difficult “Indian problem.” More recent works present overviews not of removal itself (scholars have long pursued more focused studies to add nuance and depth to removal history), but of the ideologies that supported it and that continue to shape the settler colonial United States. This section includes traditional overviews in Foreman 1932, who focuses on removal in the southeast, Prucha 1986, who surveys centuries of federal Indian policy, and Satz 1975, who studies Jacksonian era policy. It also includes recent theoretical approaches to the historic and ongoing dispossession of Indigenous peoples. Wolfe 2006 is essential reading in settler colonial studies and has been very influential. The piece has also been criticized by some Indigenous scholars who argue that it does not fully attend to Indigenous resistance. Byrd 2011 (Chickasaw) considers ongoing ways that “Indian” is produced as a category and how this continues to shape Indigenous dispossession. Lyons 2010 (Ojibwe/Dakota) focuses on Native identity, culture, and nations and considers migration as a counterpoint to removal, as well as helpfully defining “removalism” as an ideology. Banner 2005 is a general history of land transactions between Indians and Anglo-Americans that takes a nuanced approach to the historical archive but largely overlooks the settler-colonial ideologies that informed removal. Littlefield and Parins 2011 is the one encyclopedia of Indian removal and thus has been included in this general overview section. The Library of Congress offers a primary-source overview of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and related documents, while The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History introduces and excerpts Pope Alexander VI’s Demarcation Bull, which became the basis for European land claims in the Americas.

  • Banner, Stuart. How the Indians Lost Their Land: Law and Power on the Frontier. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005.

    DOI: 10.4159/9780674020535Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Counters the consensus among historians and legal scholars that Europeans did not recognize Indian property rights; argues that Anglo-Americans largely (and self-servingly) acknowledged Indian land ownership to protect their own purchases. Banner asserts that federal removal policy, like policies preceding it, operated on a middle ground between contract and conquest and “was structured as a series of voluntary transactions” (p. 191).

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  • Byrd, Jodi A. The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816676408.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Removal is one trajectory of what Chickasaw scholar Byrd calls the “transit of empire,” which depends upon and produces “Indianness” to support ongoing colonialist violence and dispossession. Byrd views removal through a theoretical and transhistorical lens, tracing its ramifications in recent phenomena such as the Cherokee Freedmen controversy and the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act and linking these events to broader problems in theoretical approaches to colonialism and indigeneity.

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  • Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal: The Emigrations of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1932.

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    Detailed yet dated account of the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Seminole removals. Foreman makes problematic statements such as that the “weaker and more primitive” northern tribes “yielded” to removal “with comparatively small resistance” (p. 13). Nonetheless, he allows his source material, including many eyewitness accounts of removals, to shine in powerful, informative ways.

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  • The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The Doctrine of Discovery 1493. In History Now.

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    Pope Alexander VI’s Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” of May 4, 1493 declared that Christians could “discover” and take possession of lands not inhabited by other Christians. This “Doctrine of Discovery” laid the foundation for all European land claims in the Americas and for US expansion. It was cited by Chief Justice John Marshall in Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), in which he argued that Native Americans could not sell land because they held only a right of occupancy, which could be extinguished.

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  • Library of Congress. Primary Documents in American History: Indian Removal Act. In The Library of Congress Virtual Services Digital Reference Section. Edited by Ken Drexler. Washington, DC: Library of Congress.

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    Includes links to the full text of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, published congressional debates, congressional voting results, and President Andrew Jackson’s Second Annual Message to Congress. Also links to the Andrew Jackson papers, “Correspondence on the Emigration of the Indians,” maps, exhibitions, and various external websites related to Indian Removal.

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  • Littlefield, Daniel F., Jr. and James W. Parins, eds. Encyclopedia of American Indian Removal. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2011.

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    Focused on the decades following the 1830 Removal Act, the first volume comprises 125 entries on events, issues, and people, plus a timeline and annotated bibliography. The second volume assembles thirty-eight primary documents, including congressional acts, editorials, and eyewitness accounts. Expands removal history beyond the southeast; Volume 1 includes entries on Ho-Chunk, Kickapoo, and Wyandot removals, for example. The authors note that theirs is a representative, not comprehensive, encyclopedia of removal.

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  • Lyons, Scott Richard. X-Marks: Native Signatures of Assent. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816666768.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Ojibwe/Dakota scholar Lyons theorizes “x-marks” historically used by Native leaders to sign treaties as an “assent to the new” (p. 33) under coercive circumstances and applies this concept to ongoing debates about Native identity. Defines “removalism,” one situation of coercion, as an “underlying ideology” that “justified and encouraged the systematic losses of Indian life: the removal of livelihood and language, the removal of security and self-esteem, the removal of religion and respect” (p. 8).

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  • Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. Abridged ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

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    Survey of federal American Indian policy in the United States from the Revolutionary War to 1980. Three chapters focus directly on removal policy, emigration, and the aftermath of removal. Prucha presents a benevolent “great father” who could not control what happened on the frontier; he does not trace the effects of federal policies on the ground, nor does he consider the ways Indigenous people shaped Indian policy.

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  • Satz, Ronald N. American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1975.

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    Historical study of removal and federal policy under the Jackson administration. Useful to get a sense of the congressional debates, public opinions, and political parties. Gives very little attention to Native leaders and Native opposition to removal, and does not take into account racism and settler colonial ideologies.

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  • Wolfe, Patrick. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8.4 (2006): 387–409.

    DOI: 10.1080/14623520601056240Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Famously argues that “Territoriality is settler colonialism’s specific, irreducible element” (p. 388) and “settler colonizers come to stay: invasion is a structure, not an event” (p. 388). Wolfe’s theorization of settler colonialism takes up the important question of why “ostensibly sovereign nations, residing in territory solemnly guaranteed to them by treaties” (p. 391) would decide to leave their lands. Views removal as part of the settler colonialism’s logic of elimination. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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Collections of Primary Texts

Collections on Indian removal include writings by key authors and activists from the removal era; assemblages of political documents, eyewitness accounts, and other texts that shed light on particular removals; and literary anthologies from particular regions that document both removal and ongoing presence. Boudinot 1996 collects the writings of one of the most famous figures of Cherokee removal history; Elias Boudinot edited the Cherokee national newspaper and famously changed from anti- to pro-removal over the course of the Cherokee fight. Evarts 1981 presents Jeremiah Evarts’ famous anti-removal essays (focused on the Cherokees) under the pseudonym William Penn. Writing in Connecticut and Massachusetts during the removal era, Apess 1992 (Pequot) offers a northern Indigenous perspective on Native oppression and marginalization. Rozema 2003 and Perdue and Green 2005 are both collections of documents related to Cherokee removal; Perdue and Green is also an introduction to historiography with a variety of documents, while Rozema offers a narrative of Cherokee removal on the ground with a particular archive of eyewitness accounts. Haveman 2018 includes an array of documents related to Creek removal, including powerful Creek-authored letters. Hobson, et al. 2010 collects literature by Native people who stayed in the south despite removal; Senier 2014 anthologizes literature by Native people who remained and remain in the northeast, presenting a set of mini tribal-national literary histories. Parker 2010 is a collection of little-known American Indian poetry to 1930 that includes poems on removal and addresses the ways scholarly neglect of this archive enacts its own type of removal.

  • Apess, William. On Our Own Ground: The Complete Writings of William Apess, a Pequot. Edited by Barry O’Connell. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992.

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    Although Pequot minister, author, and activist William Apess does not often address removal directly, his writings published from 1831–1836 protest the deliberate economic, social, and political marginalization of New England’s Indigenous communities in the early 19th century. A petition coauthored by Apess and the Mashpee tribe asks the people of Massachusetts, “You plead for the Cherokees, will you not raise your voice for the red man of Marshpee?” (p. 205).

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  • Boudinot, Elias. Cherokee Editor: The Writings of Elias Boudinot. Edited by Theda Perdue. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1996.

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    Assembles a large selection of Cherokee Phoenix editor Elias Boudinot’s writings, including his famous “Address to the Whites,” editorials from the Phoenix, and his pamphlet in response to Principal Chief John Ross’s anti-removal publications. Perdue’s biographical and historical introduction helps to contextualize the writings, as do her brief introductions to each section of documents. Originally published in 1983 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press).

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  • Evarts, Jeremiah. Cherokee Removal: The “William Penn” Essays and Other Writings by Jeremiah Evarts. Edited by Francis Paul Prucha. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1981.

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    In 1829 Jeremiah Evarts, secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, published twenty-four essays protesting Cherokee removal in the National Intelligencer, under the pseudonym William Penn. These remarkable documents demand that the reader consider, among other relevant information, “every material article, in every treaty” (p. 58) made between the Cherokees and the United States. Prucha’s volume also includes memorials to Congress and other writings by Evarts.

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  • Haveman, Christopher D., ed. Bending Their Way Onward: Creek Indian Removal in Documents. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2018.

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    Includes letters and journals documenting Creek removal, as well as muster rolls for the “voluntary emigrations” (p. xvi) from 1827–1835. Provides historical context and biographical information. Particularly striking are Creek-authored letters that address land claims, request persons of their “own choice” (p. 249) to remove them, and rebuke the United States government for unreasonable requests, such as that Creek warriors in the midst of removal help fight the Seminoles.

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  • Hobson, Geary, Janet McAdams, and Kathryn Walkiewicz, eds. The People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing after Removal. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010.

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    Collection of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by Native authors who trace their ancestry to those who “stayed” in the southeast after the removal period. Many pieces address removal directly; others confront the ongoing erasure of Native identities in the South and the memory practices of Native communities. A particularly valuable source because of the diversity of communities represented, including Pamunkey, Lumbee, Chickasaw, Catawba, Seminole, and many others.

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  • Parker, Robert Dale, ed. Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

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    Several poems in this collection of little-known poetry by Native authors deal directly with removal: William Walker Jr.’s (Wyandot) “The Wyandot’s Farewell”; Israel Folsom’s (Choctaw) “Lo! The Poor Indian’s Hope”; and Te-con-ees-kee’s (Cherokee) “Suggested by the Report, in the Advocate . . .” and “Though far from thee Georgia in exile I roam”, for example. Additional poems address the boarding school experience, allotment, and other forms of dispossession.

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  • Perdue, Theda, and Michael D. Green. The Cherokee Removal: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005.

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    A useful primary source introduction to both Cherokee removal and practices of historiography. The editors provide an overview of Cherokee history and Cherokee relations with Euro-American governments prior to and during the removal period. They also contextualize and consider the historiographical value of each of the documents, which include Cherokee women’s petitions, Catharine Beecher’s “Circular,” the 1827 Cherokee constitution, and proremoval arguments by Andrew Jackson and others.

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  • Rozema, Vicki. Voices from the Trail of Tears. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2003.

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    Collection of journal excerpts, letters, and newspaper articles that offer eyewitness accounts of Cherokee removal on the ground. Focused on the detachments of 1837–1839, Rozema presents short narrative documents with extensive introductions that contextualize the events described. With this combination of primary source material and editorial crafting, the book tells a detailed story of a particular episode of removal history.

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  • Senier, Siobhan, ed. Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014.

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    Senier’s introduction describes how the myth of the “vanishing Indian” continues to shape assumptions about the Native literatures of New England. This collection of Indigenous writings from the period of European contact to the present instead emphasizes “continuous presence” (p. 8). Senier worked closely with Native community members to select the texts. Organized by tribe or nation, many of the writings address removal and other forms of dispossession either directly or obliquely.

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Southeastern Removals

Most tribal-centered removal histories focus on the five prominent nations of the southeast—Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles—whose removals, particularly that of the Cherokees, received the most attention from the broader American public. The Cherokee removal is treated in a separate section of this bibliography, while the sources below offer a sampling of studies on the other most well-known southeastern nations. Green 1982 is a classic study of Creek removal that highlights US policy and government negotiations. Derosier 1970 and Covington 1993 focus on treaty negotiations between the US government and the Choctaws and Seminoles, respectively. Note that Derosier does give the impression of removal’s inevitability, a position that other scholars have refuted. Where these more traditional, tribal-focused histories of southern removal center treaties and their negotiators in southeastern removal history, Akers 2004 (Choctaw), Akers 1999, and Hogan 2015 (Chickasaw) present tribal-centric perspectives that bring Indigenous spirituality and ecology more prominently into the removal story. Haveman 2016 updates Green as it offers a more recent perspective on Creek removal that analyzes, among other aspects, the settler-colonial circumstances that produced “voluntary” emigrations. Paige, et al. 2010 is a recent study of Chickasaw removal that, like Haveman’s Creek-focused study, takes into account the significance of intertribal relations in Indian territory. Garrison 2002 turns to the overlooked role of the southern judiciary in the removal negotiations.

  • Akers, Donna L. “Removing the Heart of the Choctaw People: Indian Removal from a Native Perspective.” In Special Issue: Disease, Health, and Survival Among Native Americans. Edited by Clifford E. Trafzer and Diane Weiner. American Indian Culture and Research Journal 23.3 (1999): 63–76.

    DOI: 10.17953/aicr.23.3.p52341016666h822Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines Choctaw stories of their homeland, as well as their beliefs about the West as the Land of the Dead, in order to convey the devastating effects of removal on the Choctaws. Akers describes the immense suffering of Choctaws on the journey and after their arrival in Indian Territory. Important supplement to scholarship that analyzes political negotiations without attention to the human and spiritual cost of removal. Available online by subscription.

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  • Akers, Donna. Living in the Land of Death: The Choctaw Nation, 1830–1860. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2004.

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    Choctaw historian Akers works to center Choctaw oral traditions, language, and spirituality; the ecology of Indian Territory; and the relationships between Plains tribes and removed eastern communities in a removal history that has generally overlooked these components of the story. While the book does not always engage existing scholarship or thoroughly develop an alternative history based on Choctaw language and oral traditions, it nonetheless makes an important theoretical intervention.

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  • Covington, James W. The Seminoles of Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993.

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    Chronicles US attempts to expel the Seminoles from Florida in a series of treaty negotiations—the Treaty of Moultrie Creek (1823), the Treaty of Payne’s Landing (1832)—and wars, most significantly the Second Seminole War of 1835–1842. In addition to its detailed study of political negotiations and military actions during the removal period, the book covers Seminole-U.S. relations up to the 1990s.

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  • DeRosier, Arthur H. The Removal of the Choctaw Indians. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1970.

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    Chronicles twelve years of Choctaw removal negotiations under the “moderate Indian policy” (p. 98) of John C. Calhoun and Thomas L. McKenny, during which no more than fifty Choctaws emigrated, and then negotiations under President Jackson’s policy of forced removal, resulting in the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Describes the miserable conditions of removal and the reconstitution of the Choctaw nation in Indian Territory. Informative study of sustained Choctaw refusal to remove for many years.

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  • Garrison, Tim Alan. The Legal Ideology of Removal: The Southern Judiciary and the Sovereignty of Native American Nations. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2002.

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    Analyzes the southeastern removals in the context of the southern judiciary. Focused mainly on the Cherokees, Garrison convincingly demonstrates that southern state courts and the interplay between federal and state legal positions played a decisive role in removal. He also considers legal precedents dating back to 15th-century European approaches to property rights, sovereignty, and conquest.

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  • Green, Michael D. The Politics of Indian Removal: Creek Government and Society in Crisis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982.

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    Study of Creek removal focused on social and political organization, in particular the development and decisions of the Creek National Council. Green emphasizes policy, treaty negotiations, and the difficulties faced by Creek leadership.

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  • Haveman, Christopher D. Rivers of Sand: Creek Indian Emigration, Relocation, and Ethnic Cleansing in the American South. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt1d988rcSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A recent, comprehensive historical study of Creek Indian removal. Haveman highlights Creek motivations and resistance and elucidates the ways the federal government and white settlers made living circumstances in the east untenable for the Creeks in order to force emigrations and further their program of what Haveman carefully defines as “ethnic cleansing.” Also details the travels of various emigrating parties and the difficult circumstances they faced in the West.

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  • Hogan, Linda. “New Trees, New Medicines, New Wars: The Chickasaw Removal.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 42.1 (2015): 121–129.

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    Part of a special issue on “Migrants and Their Memories,” Chickasaw author Hogan’s essay includes poetry, storytelling, memoir, and research that highlight removal’s cost to the Chickasaw community: “one singular community” inclusive of the land, water, plants, animals, and ancestors they were forced to abandon (p. 124). Hogan mourns both Chickasaw removal and the ongoing, global “forced removal of tribal people from their lands by continued colonization and warfare” (p. 126).

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  • Paige, Amanda L., Fuller L. Bumpers, and Daniel Littlefield Jr. Chickasaw Removal. Ada, OK: Chickasaw Press, 2010.

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    Detailed historical account of Chickasaw removal that foregrounds primary source material, the social and economic upheaval caused by removal, Choctaw-Chickasaw relations (the Chickasaws at first resettled on a district in the Choctaw nation in Indian Territory), and Chickasaw investment in their national identity during and after the removal process. The Chickasaw case was somewhat unique, as they sold their lands in Mississippi and Alabama to pay for their own removal.

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The Cherokees and the Trail of Tears

Perdue and Green 2007 is a general historical introduction to Cherokee removal; Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is a Cherokee-directed-and-endorsed documentary film that presents an overview of Cherokee removal history. The other sources compiled here cover specific aspects of Cherokee removal. Johnston 2003 focuses on gender and Cherokee women, and Miles 2009 highlights the importance of Cherokee women’s removal protests. Schneider 2008 analyzes Elias Boudinot’s shifting response to removal and the competing views of John Ross. Miles 2005 traces one Afro-Cherokee family’s story through Cherokee history and draws attention to the relationship between slavery and removal. Vick 2011 considers the significance of ecology and medicinal plants in Cherokee removal history. Smithers 2015 draws attention to a broader history of Cherokee migration and diaspora. Cherokee literary scholar Justice 2006 analyzes Cherokee literature from the removal era, as well as the later 19th and early 20th centuries, according to Cherokee worldviews. Contemporary creative works by Cherokee authors supplement the historical record and earlier literature by imagining the human cost of removal, the stories that went unrecorded, and removal’s complex legacy. Conley 1992 is a novel about love that survives removal and Cherokee storytelling and memory. Glancy 1996 might supplement policy-focused narratives of removal that overlook the devastating effects of removal on the ground: her characters’ suffering forces the reader to imagine the physical and spiritual effects of loss of home, family, plants, food, blankets, and more on a visceral level. Meyer 2017 analyzes how the domestic, romantic, and sentimental elements of both of these novels intervene in the legal debates of their time. Hausman 2011 takes Cherokee removal into the realm of science fiction with a novel centered on a virtual Trail of Tears, raising questions about history, memory, and identity.

  • Conley, Robert J. Mountain Windsong: A Novel of the Trail of Tears. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992.

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    In Cherokee author Conley’s novel, “Grandpa” tells a young Cherokee boy named LeRoy the love story of Oconeechee and Waguli, set in the removal era. Amidst this story, the novel includes historical documents such as the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, a letter from Ralph Waldo Emerson to President Martin Van Buren, and selections from James Mooney’s Historical Sketch of the Cherokee. Layering removal history and Cherokee storytelling practices, the novel suggests that Cherokees hear the “windsong” of the past in particular ways.

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  • Glancy, Diane. Pushing the Bear: A Novel of the Trail of Tears. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996.

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    Cherokee author Glancy uses the metaphor of a broken and reassembled pottery bowl to describe her novel’s structure, which alternates between many narrators who tell of the Cherokees’ nine-hundred-mile forced walk from North Carolina to Indian Territory during the winter of 1838–1939. At the center is Maritole, a new wife and mother who experiences unimaginable loss on the trail. A vivid, wrenching portrayal of removal’s trauma, particularly for Cherokee women and children.

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  • Hausman, Blake. Riding the Trail of Tears. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011.

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    In Cherokee author Hausman’s innovative novel, Cherokee tour guide Tallulah Wilson leads visitors on a virtual Trail of Tears at an amusement park in Georgia. The tourists’ desire for a user-friendly experience confronts Tallulah’s complex relationship to Cherokee history and identity, as well as the supernatural Cherokee beings that infiltrate the ride from within. Deeply engages Cherokee oral literature, history, and geography as it wrestles with the popular consumption of Indigenous trauma.

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  • Johnston, Carolyn Ross. Cherokee Women in Crisis: Trail of Tears, Civil War, and Allotment, 1838–1907. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003.

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    Analyzes crises of gender in Cherokee society during removal, the American Civil War, and the allotment period. Describes traditional Cherokee gender roles and approaches to sexuality and documents how trade, Christian missionaries, the development of new laws, and the shift from clan authority to national power in efforts to resist removal altered these practices and diminished women’s political authority. Also details women’s resistance to and experiences of removal.

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  • Justice, Daniel Heath. Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

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    Examines nationhood, removal, and regeneration in Cherokee literature. Justice (Cherokee) reads removal-era writings in the context of traditional Cherokee sociopolitical divisions. John Ross’s writings express “Chickamauga consciousness,” or separatism and resistance, while the Treaty of New Echota exemplifies an increasingly narrow Beloved Path of adaptation and continuity. Considering allotment as another removal, Justice analyzes an ongoing desire for home in works by Lynn Riggs, John Oskison, Will Rogers, and Emmet Starr.

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  • Meyer, Sabine N. “From Federal Indian Law to Indigenous Rights: Legal Discourse and the Contemporary Native American Novel on the Indian Removal.” Law & Literature 29.2 (2017): 206–290.

    DOI: 10.1080/1535685X.2016.1246902Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers Conley’s Mountain Windsong and Glancy’s Pushing the Bear “interventions in the legal debates virulent at the time of their publication” (p. 271). Meyer frames her claims among scholarship by key Indigenous scholars in legal and literary studies as she analyzes Conley’s inclusion of legal documents in his novel and Glancy’s novel’s engagement in debates over individual versus collective human rights. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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  • Miles, Tiya. Ties that Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

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    Traces the story of the Afro-Cherokee Shoe Boots family through key events in Cherokee history, including removal. Considers the ways “slavery and removal are intimately connected” in the context of Cherokee history (p. 153), observing that the enslaved bore the hardships of removal in particular ways and that displacement from their homelands weakened certain bonds and relationships between Cherokees and Afro-Cherokees.

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  • Miles, Tiya. “‘Circular Reasoning’: Recentering Cherokee Women in the Antiremoval Campaigns.” American Quarterly 61.2 (2009): 221–243.

    DOI: 10.1353/aq.0.0078Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Important essay that highlights Cherokee women’s role in the women’s antiremoval campaigns discussed in Portnoy 2005 (cited in Literary and Rhetorical Studies). Miles situates Lydia Sigourney and Catharine Beecher’s antiremoval writings among the work of Cherokee women who protested removal via petitions to the Cherokee National Council and letters to Anglo allies. Cherokee Margaret Ann Crutchfield wrote directly to Sigourney after reading her poetry; Crutchfield’s action of protest, Miles observes, owes much to Cherokee societal practice. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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  • Perdue, Theda, and Michael D. Green. The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears. New York: Penguin Group, 2007.

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    A highly readable introduction to Cherokee removal that summarizes Cherokee relationships to their homelands, the broader ideologies behind and effects of removal policy, Cherokee resistance, public debates about removal, the Treaty of New Echota, the Trail of Tears, and Cherokee efforts to rebuild their nation in Indian Territory.

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  • Richie, Chip, dir. Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy. DVD. USA: Rich-Heape Films. E-video Amazon Prime, 2014.

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    Endorsed by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation, this documentary presents an overview of removal history from a Cherokee perspective. Cherokee actor Wes Studi narrates some of this history in Cherokee, making this a particularly valuable source for those who want to get a sense of the Cherokee language. Non-Cherokee historians, including Perdue and Littlefield, also contributed to the film.

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  • Schneider, Bethany. “Boudinot’s Change: Boudinot, Emerson, and Ross on Cherokee Removal.” ELH 75.1 (2008): 151–177.

    DOI: 10.1353/elh.2008.0008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Theoretically complex analysis of Cherokee Phoenix editor Elias Boudinot’s change of mind from resistance to support of removal in 1832. Schneider questions scholars like Perdue who position Boudinot as a tragic figure; she instead frames Boudinot’s decisions according to the ontological ruptures involved in separating sovereignty from place. Principal Chief John Ross’s censorship of the press, she concludes, sought to maintain the connection between place and people. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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  • Smithers, Gregory D. The Cherokee Diaspora: An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300169607.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers Cherokee removal within a history of Cherokee diaspora, focusing on migration and resettlement, memory, and identity in Cherokee history from the mid-18th century through the Second World War. Highlights multiple sites (Texas, California, Arkansas) and moments of migration and settlement, stories of place that shaped Cherokee identity, settler colonialism and removal, displacement during the American Civil War, and the struggle to define Cherokee legal identity in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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  • Vick, R. Alfred. “Cherokee Adaptation to the Landscape of the West and Overcoming the Loss of Culturally Significant Plants.” American Indian Quarterly 35.3 (2011): 394–417.

    DOI: 10.5250/amerindiquar.35.3.0394Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Vick determines that nearly one third of the plant species the Cherokees used in the Southern Appalachian region were not indigenous to the Oklahoma ecosystem. He analyzes the ways Cherokees adapted to the new land, by such means as species substitutions; genus substitutions (using buckbrush instead of rivercane for basket weaving, for instance); learning from the Old Settlers and other Native communities; and cultivation and trade. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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Northern Removals

Turning to the north, as Bowes 2016 and Tiro 2015 argue, enhances our understanding of removal and offers new insights applicable to this region and others. The sources here make clear that, in Bowes’ words, “Indian removal cannot be confined to a specific chronology or geography. Instead . . . the American era was, and is, the removal era” (p. 17). Bowes 2016 takes the long view of removal, highlighting northern communities that experienced multiple removals and other forms of dispossession over centuries. Warren 2005 details the experiences and actions of Shawnees and their neighbors in the face of US expansion into the Ohio country to 1870. Tiro 2015 considers the relationship between removal and the War of 1812. McCarthy 2016 (Onondaga) focuses on Iroquois/Haudenosaunee land reclamation in the 20th and 21st centuries, a fight with roots in the massive Haudenosaunee land reduction following the American Revolution. This account challenges the “scholarly fixation on Iroquois factionalism,” asking “why internal divisions and conflicts within a community are coded differently when that community is Indigenous” (p. 155). Factionalism, attributed to cultural weakness and unorganized politics, has often framed discussion on Indigenous responses to removal and struggles to retain their lands (in Saltz, for example), and McCarthy’s intervention might also be applied to scholarship on other groups. Hauptman 2011 focuses on another Haudenosaunee/Iroquois fight against dispossession, that of the Tonawanda Senecas, while essays and stories collected in Hauptman and McLester 1999 document the removal of another Haudenosaunee nation—the Oneida—from multiple perspectives, including those of academics, legal experts, and Oneida community members. In her place-based study of the memory of King Philip’s War, DeLucia 2018 reminds scholars to consider not only the moment of violent conflict but what came before and after, an insight especially crucial to studies of removal. Newman 2012 focuses on the historical and current memory of various colonial land transactions involving the Delaware Indians, in two of which colonists cheated them out of vast tracts of land. O’Brien 2010 (White Earth Ojibwe) considers how local historians in New England attempted to write Indians out of existence in the 19th century. Brooks 2009 (Abenaki) counters ongoing scholarly removal of Indigenous presences and histories, reclaiming Indigenous space, history, and writing in the 18th- and 19th-century northeast by mapping networks of relations.

  • Bowes, John P. Land Too Good for Indians: Northern Indian Removal. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016.

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    Dense historical study of removal north of the Ohio river. Bowes’s focus on multiple removals experienced by the Shawnees, Delawares, Wyandots, and others yields important insights on “attempts to eliminate Indian property and presence in the United States over the course of more than two hundred years” (p. 231). Extends removal’s chronology to earlier migrations in response to US expansion, late 19th-century removals, and dispossession via the 1880s allotment policies.

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  • Brooks, Lisa. The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

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    Abenaki scholar Brooks maps Indigenous geographic and kinship networks of the 18th and 19th centuries and highlights Native writing from this period (petitions, journals, wampum, maps). The book itself functions as a map of Native presence in the northeast and reclaims the significance of Indigenous space and writing in a region and time period from which they are often removed in literary studies.

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  • DeLucia, Christine M. Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018.

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    A place-based study of the legacy and memory of King Philip’s War (1675–1678), a conflict that contributed to Native displacement, diaspora, and marginalization in the northeast. Highlights Indigenous investments in particular places and ecosystems and considers how memory of the war “has unfolded within a framework of ongoing dispossession” (p. 11). Also discusses the specific removal of Indigenous people from their homes to Deer Island during the winter of 1675–1676.

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  • Hauptman, Laurence M. The Tonawanda Senecas’ Heroic Battle Against Removal: Conservative Activist Indians. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2011.

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    Study of the Tonawanda Senecas’ struggle to retain a reservation in western New York State, a struggle in which they were ultimately successful despite great losses. Chronicles the strategies and efforts of elected chiefs, religious leaders, activists, and clan mothers to fight the US government and the Ogden Land Company’s assaults on Tonawanda Seneca lands from the post-Revolutionary era through the 1860s.

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  • Hauptman, Laurence M., and L. Gordon McLester III, eds. The Oneida Indian Journey: From New York to Wisconsin, 1784–1860. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.

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    Focuses on Oneida removal from New York to Wisconsin. Part 1 includes essays from scholars and legal experts on the key figures, events, and treaties involved in Oneida removal. Part 2 consists of Oneida stories (printed in the Oneida language and in English) collected as part of the Works Progress Administration program of 1938–1941, as well as contemporary Oneida perspectives. Part 3 discusses sources and areas for future research.

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  • McCarthy, Theresa. In Divided Unity: Haudenosaunee Reclamation at Grand River. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2016.

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    Considers recent Six Nations efforts to reclaim lands along the Grand River in Ontario within a history of outsider knowledge produced about the Iroquois that contributes to settler colonialist mentalities in Canada. Charting Haudenosaunee resistance to the massive land reduction of the territory promised them after the American Revolution, Onondaga scholar McCarthy tells of the Six Nations’ ongoing struggle to reclaim political, intellectual, and physical space.

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  • Newman, Andrew. On Records: Delaware Indians, Colonists, and the Media of History and Memory. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt1d9nq9vSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Investigates memory practices among Delaware Indians and colonial European communities. Newman analyzes the recording, reception, and reproduction of four stories told by colonial Delawares and their descendants, colonists, early historians, and contemporary scholars. Chapter 2 deals with Dutch colonists’ land acquisition in the New York area (pp. 55–93); chapter 4 investigates the Walking Purchase of 1737, in which Pennsylvania proprietors cheated Delawares out of approximately five hundred thousand acres of land (pp. 133–183).

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  • O’Brien, Jean M. Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816665778.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important study of the ideologies underlying discursive removal. O’Brien (White Earth Ojibwe) considers how and why 19th-century historians in southern New England wrote Indians out of existence even as Indigenous people in this region remained, survived, and wrote their own histories. Examines hundreds of local histories from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island that claimed Indian extinction and denied them modernity in order to assert the primacy of Anglo American culture and institutions.

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  • Tiro, Karim M. “The View from Piqua Agency: The War of 1812, the White River Delawares, and the Origins of Indian Removal.” Journal of the Early Republic 35.1 (2015): 25–54.

    DOI: 10.1353/jer.2015.0006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers removal as a legacy of the War of 1812, examining the first northern removal treaty at St. Mary’s, Ohio, in October 1818. Although they were US allies, the White River Delawares were nonetheless dispossessed of their lands following the war. British defeat, increased emphasis on removal in Washington, and wartime anti-Indian sentiment contributed to their removal, which set precedent for future dispossessions. Argues for looking northward to deepen our understanding of removal. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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  • Warren, Stephen. The Shawnees and Their Neighbors, 1795–1870. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2005.

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    Focuses on the Shawnees and neighboring groups (Wyandots, Delawares, Ottawas, Miamis, Senecas) during and beyond the era of United States expansion into the Ohio country. Some Shawnees migrated into southeastern Missouri from 1780–1820, while others worked to remain in Ohio until eventually being forced to move to a tribal reservation in Indian Territory. Explores the tension between village-based authority, national leadership, and transnational alliances in response to dispossession.

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Western Removals

Western removals occurred later and on different terms, but they echo in some ways those of the southeastern removal era. What Hyer 2001 calls the “California Trail of Tears,” the forced Cupeño removal from Warner’s Ranch to the Pala Reservation, did not occur until 1903. Yet it took shape similarly to the southern removals of the 1830s: although the Cupeño people employed various strategies to fight this removal, including seeking assistance from government officials and appealing to white allies, federal authorities forced them from their homes and drove them to an unfamiliar land. At other times, western removals look quite different from those of the southeast: as Iverson and Roessel 2002 and the Diné of the Eastern Region of the Navajo Reservation 1991 detail, the Navajo Nation or Diné experienced temporary exile from their homelands during the 1860s, but ultimately returned to their homelands and, in Iverson’s words, “added land at a time when most Indian groups lost acreage and they remained in the cultural center of their world” (p. 73). Combs 2002 and Wilson 2004 each offer focused studies of specific instances of removal; while Combs 2002 takes a traditional historical approach to analysis of treaties, Wilson 2004 (Dakota) focuses on the little-acknowledged forced exile and suffering of the Dakota people following the Dakota-US War of 1862. Anderson 2005 takes a revisionist approach to Texas history, arguing that “Texans gradually endorsed (at first locally and eventually statewide) a policy of ethnic cleansing that had as its intention the forced removal” (p. 7) of Indians and, to a lesser extent, Tejanos. Spence 1999 details the many removals that accompanied the creation of national parks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • Anderson, Gary. The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land, 1820–1875. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005.

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    A study of conflict over land in Texas intended to replace exculpatory, hagiographic accounts that glorify the Texas Rangers and Anglo settlers and portray a just conquest of the “savage” frontier. Details complex relationships among the diverse Indigenous inhabitants of Texas (including Comanches, Wichitas, Apaches, and Caddos), immigrant Indians from eastern regions, Tejanos, Anglos, and others. Analyzes ethnic and racial violence that eventually led to ethnic cleansing in the region.

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  • Combs, H. Jason. “The Platte Purchase and Native American Removal.” Plains Anthropologist 47.182 (2002): 265–274.

    DOI: 10.1080/2052546.2002.11932095Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Brief study of Native American removal from the Platte Purchase Region in northwest Missouri. Combs describes the Prairie du Chien Treaty of 1830 and the Tippecanoe and Chippewa Treaties of 1832 and 1833, both of which entitled Native nations to lands in the Platte region. The US government quickly altered these treaties and renegotiated their claims to exclude the region from lands that could be granted to removed Indians. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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  • Diné of the Eastern Region of the Navajo Reservation. Oral History Stories of the Long Walk = Hwéeldi Baa Hané. Crownpoint, NM: Lake Valley Navajo School, 1991.

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    A collection of recorded and transcribed Diné (or Navajo) oral histories about the Diné removal to Fort Sumner (Hwéeldi) and eventual return to their homelands. These accounts contextualize the removal within a history of fighting with other tribes and various “enemies” the Diné faced in their region. They detail suffering at Hwéeldi, stories of escape, and the eventual return home.

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  • Hyer, Joel R. “We Are Not Savages”: Native Americans in Southern California and the Pala Reservation, 1840–1920. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2001.

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    Study of the Cupeños, Kumeyaayas, and Luiseños of southern California, focused on these communities’ experiences of and responses to centuries of invasion that included the Spanish missions, the American takeover, the Gold Rush, racist state legislation intended to control and enslave Native people, and the “hunting” and murder of at least 4,500 Indigenous people from 1848–1880. Hyer highlights Indigenous people’s efforts to maintain cultures and sovereignty amidst oppression and dispossession.

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  • Iverson, Peter, and Monty Roessel. Diné: A History of the Navajos. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.

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    The first three chapters detail the Navajos’ deep connection to Diné Bikéyah, their homeland, and tensions as the Spanish and eventually the United States invaded what became New Mexico. From 1863–1866, Kit Carson led the “Long Walk,” the forced removal of the Diné to Fort Sumner. When General Sherman raised the possibility in 1868 that the Navajos move to Indian Territory, Diné leaders fought instead to return home and succeeded.

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  • Spence, Mark David. Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    Spence examines the relationship between wilderness preservation and Native American dispossession by focusing on Indian removal at Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Glacier national parks from the 1870s to the 1930s. Spence unpacks tourist assumptions, park policies, and federal legislation related to these parks’ development alongside Indigenous uses of and claims to these lands long before and after they were made parks.

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  • Wilson, Waziyatawin Angela. “Decolonizing the Dakota Death Marches.” American Indian Quarterly 28.1–2 (2004): 185–215.

    DOI: 10.1353/aiq.2005.0027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Dakota scholar Wilson documents the forced removals of Dakota men, women, and children from their Minnesota homelands after some Dakotas violently resisted colonization in the US-Dakota War of 1862. Reframing these events within a history of oppression and drawing on Dakota accounts, Wilson turns the lens on “the culpability of white Minnesota settlers” (p. 187) and demonstrates that acknowledging this history has important implications for Dakota political claims and well-being today.

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Literary and Rhetorical Studies

Although some texts in other sections of this bibliography could also be classified as literary studies (Justice 2006, cited under The Cherokees and the Trail of Tears, and Brooks 2009, cited under Northern Removals, for example), the sources here present more general approaches to literature, rhetoric, writing, and linguistics during the removal era. Maddox 1991 and Mielke 2008 study colonialist mentalities in antebellum literature by such authors as Henry David Thoreau and Lydia Maria Child; Mielke also includes Native authors William Apess and Jane Johnston Schoolcraft in her analysis of the relationship between sentimental literary practice and removal. Rifkin 2014 adds an intriguing dimension by analyzing antebellum literature that ostensibly has little do with Indians yet nonetheless reveals modes of settler colonial occupation. Konkle 2004 focuses entirely on the political writings and speeches of Native authors from this period who protested disenfranchisement and dispossession. Portnoy 2005 analyzes the rhetoric of white women activists who participated in the removal debates. Round 2010 focuses on Native print culture, while Snyder 2017 turns to textbooks and student writing to understand the relationship between removal and Choctaw intellectual culture. Black 2015 takes a rhetorical studies approach to the removal negotiations and debates, while Havery 2010 highlights the role that study of Indian languages played in removal era thought and policy.

  • Black, Jason Edward. American Indians and the Rhetoric of Removal and Allotment. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2015.

    DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628461961.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Study of the “rhetorical relationship between the US government and American Indian nations” (p. 19). Black analyzes both governmental rhetoric used to promote removal and Native responses to these rhetorical constructions of Indian identity. Although the historical ground covered is explored in more nuance and depth in other texts, this book effectively highlights Native speeches, editorials, and other forms of communication and explores their influences on the removal debates.

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  • Havery, Sean P. “‘Must Not Their Languages Be Savage and Barbarous Like Them?’: Philology, Indian Removal, and Race Science.” Journal of the Early Republic 30.4 (2010): 505–532.

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    Considers how “philological questions” (p. 531) shaped the removal debates and the development of race science in the United States. Questions about the qualities of Native languages and the ideas they expressed, Harvey shows, were crucial to debates about “savagery” and “civilization.” Among those at the center of Native language study were American statesmen and missionaries, as well as bilingual Natives such as David Brown (Cherokee) and Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (Ojibwe). Available online by subscription or purchase.

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  • Konkle, Maureen. Writing Indian Nations: Native Intellectuals and the Politics of Historiography, 1827–1863. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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    Konkle focuses on mid-19th-century Native authors who defended Indigenous political autonomy in the face of developing Euro-American racism and the contradictions inherent in United States-Indigenous treaty negotiations. She highlights the sophisticated intellectual arguments of authors such as Elias Boudinot, John Ridge, William Apess, David Cusick, and Red Jacket, all of whom resisted forms of removal.

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  • Maddox, Lucy. Removals: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Politics of Indian Affairs. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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    Early literary study of 19th-century writings about Indians that address overtly or obliquely the question of Indians’ place in America. Chapter 1 (pp. 15–51) analyzes the public debate about Indian removal, while subsequent chapters treat literature by Melville, Hawthorne, Child, Sedgwick, Fuller, Thoreau, and Parkman. Removals focuses on the rhetoric of white authors; Maddox considers public debates about Indians central to American literature but does not document Native voices that shaped those debates.

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  • Mielke, Laura. Moving Encounters: Sympathy and the Indian Question in Antebellum Literature. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2008.

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    Mielke analyzes literary representations in the decades surrounding the 1830 Removal Act in order to better understand the logics of colonialism. In literature by Lydia Maria Child, James Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, William Apess, and others, Mielke locates “moving encounters” (p. 2), or emotional exchanges between characters that posit the possibility of mutual sympathy between Indians and non-Natives. Such episodes, she finds, often conclude with the failure of sympathy.

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  • Portnoy, Alisse. Their Right to Speak: Women’s Activism in the Indian and Slave Debates. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.

    DOI: 10.4159/9780674042223Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rhetorical analysis of texts central to women’s participation in the Indian Removal, African colonization, and second-wave abolitionist debates. Portnoy considers the ways white women such as Catharine Beecher claimed their authority to speak on these matters of federal policy and situates their discursive activism among related cultural productions such as Jeremiah Evarts’ anti-removal essays, novelistic depictions of Native and African Americans, and articles and advertisements in the National Intelligencer.

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  • Rifkin, Mark. Settler Common Sense: Queerness and Everyday Colonialism in the American Renaissance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816690572.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers the feelings and practices that arise from everyday settler occupation of Indigenous lands. Rifkin analyzes texts by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Herman Melville that ostensibly have little to do with Indians and shows how quotidian modes of settler occupation nonetheless frame their approaches to personhood, politics, property, and place. These authors, Rifkin argues, raise queer opposition to state structures yet simultaneously erase Indigeneity.

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  • Round, Phillip H. Removable Type: Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1633–1880. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

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    In this study of Indigenous uses of print from 1663 to 1880, Round briefly analyzes memorials produced by Native nations facing removal in the 1830s and 1840s; he also discusses Cherokee Elias Boudinot’s editorship of the Cherokee Phoenix and the Boudinot-Ross conflict in context of the removal crisis.

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  • Snyder, Christina. “The Rise and Fall and Rise of Civilizations: Indian Intellectual Culture During the Removal Era.” The Journal of American History 104.2 (2017): 386–409.

    DOI: 10.1093/jahist/jax175Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines Native intellectual culture during the removal period, focusing on curriculum and students at Choctaw Academy, the first federally operated Indian school. Snyder analyzes textbooks and student writings to show how Native students engaged global history and classical models to articulate arguments about civilizations and, later, to develop national frameworks and institutions in removed Indian nations. Available online by request.

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Removal’s Aftermath and Memory

This section includes a sampling of historical studies and creative works that consider the legacy and memory of removal in the South, Indian Territory/Oklahoma, and elsewhere. Chang 2010 (Native Hawaiian) studies the relationship between Creek nationhood and land policies in Indian Territory/Oklahoma following removal. The University of Oklahoma’s Indian-Pioneer Papers Collection includes accounts of removal remembered in families and transcribed from Oklahoma residents in the early 20th century. Dennison 2012 (Osage) analyzes the process of creating the Osage constitution in 2006 on their reservation in Oklahoma, demonstrating the ongoing effects of colonialism and the maneuvers Indigenous people make within this situation. Tapahonso 1993 (Navajo) is a poem that explores the memory of the Diné Long Walk. Denson 2016 studies the impact of Cherokee removal through the lens of public memory in the 20th and 21st centuries. Lowery 2017 (Lumbee) focuses on the situation of the Lumbee Indians in North Carolina following the removal era, when their lands and livelihoods were targeted through other means than physical removal. Perdue 2012 is an insightful overview of the legacy of Indian Removal in the South and a call for further study of that legacy. Garrison and O’Brien 2017 assembles essays by leading scholars on the Native South.

  • Chang, David A. The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1832–1929. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.5149/9780807895764_changSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Study of the relationship between land ownership, race, and nation in the Creek Nation and eastern Oklahoma from before removal through the early 20th century. Chang (Native Hawaiian) considers how removal exacerbated divisions between those Creeks “who embraced and those who resisted the innovations of wealth, racial slavery, and centralized power” (p. 19) and traces the ways allotment, Oklahoma statehood, and other land-related policies redrew racial and national lines in the region.

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  • Dennison, Jean. Colonial Entanglement: Constituting a Twenty-First Century Osage Nation. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.5149/9780807837443_dennisonSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Osage scholar Dennison studies Osage governmental reform from 2004–2006 to illustrate both the legacy of colonialism and the power of Indigenous forms of sovereignty. She describes “the colonial process as at once devastating and full of potential,” a situation she calls “colonial entanglement” (p. 7).

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  • Denson, Andrew. Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and the Contest over Southern Memory. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016.

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    Examines the public memory of Cherokee removal from the 1920s through the 21st century. Chapter 1 offers a historical overview of Cherokee removal (pp. 18–52); subsequent chapters explore the meanings behind parks, monuments, pageants, and other forms of public commemoration in the South. Considers the ways non-Natives have claimed Cherokee history as heritage, and how Cherokees have participated in this construction of heritage to draw attention to tribal persistence and sovereignty.

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  • Garrison, Tim Alan, and Greg O’Brien, eds. The Native South: New Histories and Enduring Legacies. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017.

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    Several essays in this volume honoring the work of Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green deal with removal. Julie L. Reed studies removal’s effects on Cherokee forms of justice that sought balance and community restoration. Tim Alan Garrison interrogates the ongoing assumption of removal’s inevitability. Mikaëla M. Adams examines race relations among the Florida Seminoles following their resistance. James Taylor Carson considers the ways Indigenous ghosts resist the South’s erasure.

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  • Indian-Pioneer Papers Collection. In University of Oklahoma Digital Collections: Western History Collections.

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    Transcribed interviews of Oklahoma residents recorded in the 1930s. Many of the interviews describe removals experienced by the interviewee’s ancestors in the 19th century. A Miami woman named Elizabeth Lindsey Palmer, for instance, tells of her grandmother and mother’s journey by canal boat from Indiana to Kansas during the forced Miami removal of 1846; others offer accounts of Cherokee removal, and one tells of the Choctaws finding a Shawnee town on their Indian Territory land.

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  • Lowery, Malinda Maynor. “On the Antebellum Fringe: Lumbee Indians, Slavery, and Removal.” Native South 10.1 (2017): 40–59.

    DOI: 10.1353/nso.2017.0003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lumbee scholar Lowery emphasizes “the larger structural relationship between slavery and Indian Removal” (p. 53). For Native southerners in North Carolina after 1838, she shows, removal was “legal, intellectual, and cultural rather than physical” (p. 42). The Lumbees held property individually rather than collectively; whites thus sought to acquire their lands by legally determining them “free people of color” who, like black North Carolinians, could not vote or testify in court. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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  • Perdue, Theda. “The Legacy of Indian Removal.” The Journal of Southern History 78.1 (2012): 3–36.

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    Documents continued state and federal efforts to dispossess Native southerners of their lands and identities after the 1830s removals; examines the racial legacy of removal in the Jim Crow era and beyond; analyzes the efforts of white southerners to sentimentalize, romanticize, and claim the history of removal; describes Indigenous resistance and political sovereignty; and argues for the significance of Indians in the narrative of southern history after removal. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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  • Tapahonso, Luci. “In 1864.” In Sáanii Dahataal/The Women Are Singing: Poems and Stories. By Luci Tapahonso. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993.

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    A poem about the Navajo “Long Walk” from Dinetah to Bosque Redondo in 1864 that focuses on generational memory, storytelling, suffering, and survival. Available online.

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Other Forms of Removal: Allotment, Residential Schools, Relocation

Government policies of allotment, forced assimilation, removal of Indigenous children from their communities, and relocation of Native people from tribal reservations to urban areas were forms of colonization that extended the goals and consequences of removal. The Dawes or General Allotment Act of 1887 aimed to break up reservations and abolish tribal governments by dividing commonly held land among individual tribal members. The federal government sold “surplus” lands to non-Indians, and many Native people were defrauded of their lands as a result of this act and similar ones that followed (such as the Nelson Act [1889] that targeted the Ojibwe and the Curtis Act [1898] that targeted tribes in Indian Territory). Erdrich 1988 dramatizes the effects of such acts on a fictional Ojibwe community in the early 20th century. Jacobs 2009 shows that government assimilation policies that included removing Indigenous children from their families for schooling “shared the fundamental goal of earlier strategies—that of dispossessing indigenous people of their land—and aimed to complete . . . colonization” (p. xxx). Architects of policies of removing children sought to break Indigenous children’s ties to kin and country and thereby attack the persistence of Indigenous nations. Adams 1995 offers a detailed general history of US boarding schools; Lomawaima 1994 (Mvskoke/Creek) presents a case study of Chilocco Indian School in Oklahoma focused on student voices and memories. Tohe 1999 is a collection of poems centered largely on the author’s experience at the Diné reservation boarding school. Churchill 2004 considers residential schooling in the United States and Canada in the context of assimilation policy that aimed to abolish the practice of commonly held tribal land and attack traditional modes of governance; he observes that the forcible transfer of children from one national or cultural group to another is foundational to the internationally accepted definition of genocide. Child 2018 (Red Lake Ojibwe) shows that, like the Trail of Tears, the boarding school institution has become “symbolic of American colonialism at its most genocidal” (p. 38). In some cases, such as that of Child’s own Ojibwe community, the boarding school experience has become a stand-in for colonialism writ large and for such policies as “the duplicitously layered assimilation campaign that unfolded in the late 19th and early 20th century United States which manipulated federal and state policy to get at Indian lands and resources, while stomping on tribal political and cultural sovereignty” (p. 51). Another duplicitous campaign, the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ relocation policy, facilitated the removal of tens of thousands of Indigenous people from reservations to major cities beginning in the 1950s. Furlan 2017 focuses on post-relocation era literature’s reclamation of place and notes that “relocation policy represents ongoing strategies of removal and assimilation” (p. 7). In narrating her own relocation to San Francisco, former Cherokee principal chief Wilma Mankiller (Mankiller and Wallis 1993) makes clear the intimate links between 1830s removal and 1950s relocation: “I learned through this ordeal about the fear and anguish that occur when you give up your home, your community, and everything you have ever known to move far away to a strange place” (p. 62).

  • Adams, David Wallace. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875–1928. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

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    Detailed study of US residential boarding schools designed to remove Native children from their Indian homes and lifestyles and place them in all-encompassing institutions that would make them like white Americans. Analyzes policy, the institutions themselves, and Native resistance and forms of strategic accommodation.

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  • Child, Brenda J. “The Boarding School as Metaphor.” Journal of American Indian Education 57.1 (2018): 37–57.

    DOI: 10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0037Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Ojibwe scholar Child considers how the boarding school experience serves as a metaphor for colonialism more broadly. Child seeks to account for pleasant experiences in the schools as well as abuse and suffering; her essay also historicizes the boarding schools both to clarify the ways they changed over time and to show that they were accompanied by other catastrophic forms of colonialism (allotment, suppression of spiritual practices) that have shaped their historical memory. Available online by subscription or purchase.

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  • Churchill, Ward. Kill the Indian, Save the Man: The Genocidal Impact of American Indian Residential Schools. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2004.

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    Analyzes Indian residential schools in both the United States and Canada as part of a genocidal assimilation policy that aimed “to eliminate all American Indians culturally recognizable as such by some point in the mid-twentieth century” (p. 12). This is a harrowing account of the treatment of children at such schools, where they were subjected to corporal punishment, sexual abuse, and many other forms of trauma.

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  • Erdrich, Louise. Tracks. New York: Harper Perennial, 1988.

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    Ojibwe author Erdrich’s novel centers on the aftermath of allotment on the Ojibwe reservation during the early 20th century. As its characters navigate land loss, disease, and hunger, the novel suggests that “tracks” can be vehicles for survival within and resistance of the structure of allotment “tracts,” for tracks are traces of mobility and choice, the connection between humans and animals, and writing as political action.

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  • Furlan, Laura M. Indigenous Cities: Urban Indian Fiction and the Histories of Relocation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt1vjqnb4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Furlan studies representations of urban Indians in postrelocation era literature and other media and shows that “land, location, and belonging” (p. 19) are major themes of these works. She aims to shift the focus from reservations and the dispossession of Native lands to Native mobility in urban, modern locales, and to the “retakings of place” (p. 24) that occur in urban Indian writing.

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  • Jacobs, Margaret D. White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880–1940. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009.

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    Bancroft Prize-winning comparative study of the removal of Indigenous children from their families in Australia and the United States, beginning in the late 19th century. Jacobs details government policies; the role of white women’s maternalism in the removals; the specific processes by which children were removed; the trauma incurred by this invasion of Indigenous families’ most intimate spaces; and the harrowing experiences of these children in residential schools.

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  • Lomawaima, Tsianina W. They Called it Prairie Light: The Story of Chilocco Indian School. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

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    Approaching Native boarding school students as “living archives” (p. xii), Lomawaima (Mvskoke/Creek) focuses on student experiences at Chilocco Indian Agricultural School in northern Oklahoma from 1920 to 1940. Through interviews with alumni of Chilocco as well as analysis of institutional policy and records, Lomawaima acknowledges the complexity of Native boarding school experiences and shows that the schools largely did not succeed in their assimilative aims.

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  • Mankiller, Wilma, and Michael Wallis. Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1993.

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    Tells the story of Cherokee removal within the context of both former Chief of the Cherokee Nation Wilma Mankiller’s own life story and the larger history of the Cherokee people. The US government removed Mankiller’s family from Oklahoma to California during the 1950s as part of the federal relocation program. As Mankiller puts it, “I experienced my own Trail of Tears when I was a young girl” (p. 62). Mankiller’s account highlights Cherokee resilience over centuries of colonialism.

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  • Tohe, Laura. No Parole Today. Albuquerque: West End Press, 1999.

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    In this collection of poems largely about her experience at the Diné reservation boarding school, Tohe (Diné) writes, “Separation from home, land, and culture equals loss of identity and language” (p. x). Many of the poems confront the boarding school experience, addressing such topics as the attempt to stamp out Indigenous languages and the trauma of separation from family. Despite these hardships, Tohe also highlights humor, play, and romance among Diné youth.

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