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Week 8

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Revitalization and Native Space


October 22: Revitalization and Racialization in Native North America




In the early nineteenth century President Jefferson imagined the United States as a continental agrarian empire. Several key events during this period had important effects on US-Indian relations. The Louisiana Purchase (1803) gave the United States a claim (at least in the eyes of European nations) to a 828,000 square mile area of land that stretched from the Mississippi River to present-day New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. This area was inhabited by numerous Indian nations, but to US officials this land purchase gave to the young nation a tract of "empty" land to which eastern tribes could potentially be removed. The end of the War of 1812, moreover, represented the end of an era during which Native nations were able to forge strong alliances with the British to resist the United States. In this module we will consider how President Jefferson and other US officials forged an Indian policy during this time of increased US imperial aspirations.








Study Questions 


  1. By what logic does Jefferson (in his letter to Benjamin Hawkins) promote the "superior value of a little land, well cultivated, over a great deal"? How would you summarize Jefferson's beliefs about agrarianism, American Indians, and citizenship?
  2. In his letter to William Henry Harrison, how does Jefferson propose to accelerate American Indians' "disposition to exchange lands"? And what does he see as the two only options available to Indian people to persist historically?
  3. What do you think Jefferson means with the idea of the United States' "paramount sovereignty"? And what seem to be his priorities in terms of Indian and foreign policy? 
  4. In his "Address to Congress," what is James Monroe's cause of dissatisfaction with the Spanish government? And what are the recent events he is alluding to?
  5. What is Monroe's vision for what is to be done with Florida? And how do Indian nations figure in this plan?
  6. Thinking across these texts, how would you summarize what these documents tell you about Indian affairs and US nation-building?




October 24: The United States and the Colonization of Anishinaabewaki



In the 1820s and 1830s the Great Lakes region was home to a range of dynamic and modern Native American nations that had long interacted with one another, as well as with European and American traders. As the US sought to expand westward, however, the region was seen as a important area for the mining of minerals, and various expeditions were organized to chart the region's mineral resources. The Michigan Territory, which ranged as far west as the Mississippi River, was established by an act of Congress in 1805. It was first governed by the Territorial Governor William Hull and later (from 1813 to 1831) by Lewis Cass. In this area the Anishinaabeg had longstanding ties with French, British, and American fur traders, and present-day Michigan was densely populated by various native nations. In this module we will think about the key term "settler colonialism" to think about how US nation-building (in this case in the Michigan Territory) was hinged on the appropriation of native lands and on narratives of native disappearance. In Lorenzo Veracini's terms, if colonialism is centered on the domination of foreign territories and the exploitation of native labor, settler colonialism is centered on making foreign territories into domestic ones, and the attempt to take native land rather than labor. Keeping Veracini's framework in mind, we will think about how this settler-colonial logic surfaced in the history of the Michigan Territory in the nineteenth century.








Study Questions 


  1. According to Lorenzo Veracini, what are the main differences between colonialism and settler colonialism? How is the role of American Indians different in both of these situations?
  2. What does it mean to think about the United States as a settler colony? How does this explain the country's dealings with American Indians, both in the period discussed this week and previously?
  3. What does the history of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and Jane Johnston Schoolcraft tell you about the logic of racial difference in the 1820s and 1830s? How was mixed-race identity perceived? 
  4. In Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's "Report," in what ways is there a settler-colonial logic at work? How does Schoolcraft talk about the landscape of what is now southwest Michigan? How are his descriptions of Sault Ste. Marie different from his earlier observations, and what does this mean to you?
  5. Can you detect any settler-colonial logic at work in the 1826 Treaty of Fond du Lac? What seem to be the treaty's most important stipulations? 


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