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Choctaw Nation

A Story of American Indian Resurgence

Valerie Lambert

Publication Year: 2007

Choctaw Nation is a story of tribal nation building in the modern era. Valerie Lambert treats nation-building projects as nothing new to the Choctaws of southeastern Oklahoma, who have responded to a number of hard-hitting assaults on Choctaw sovereignty and nationhood by rebuilding their tribal nation. Drawing on field research, oral histories, and archival sources, Lambert explores the struggles and triumphs of a tribe building a new government and launching an ambitious program of economic development in the late twentieth century, achieving a partial restoration of the tribe’s former glory as a significant political and economic presence in what is now the United States.
An enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation who was reared in Oklahoma, Lambert describes in vivid detail what this nation building has meant for the Choctaw people and for non-Indians. Choctaw nation building has strengthened the tribe’s ongoing efforts to defend their sovereignty and protect their rights to land, water, and other natural resources. It has also helped produce new ways of imagining, constructing, and expressing Choctaw identity. Yet, as Choctaw Nation also shows, Choctaw sovereignty—the bedrock of Choctaw empowerment—remains under threat, as tribal sovereignty is not only a bundle of inherent rights but also an ongoing, complex consequence of Native initiatives and negotiations on local, state, and national levels.
In addition to wrestling with the topics of sovereignty, identity, tribal nationalism, and contemporary tribal governance, this book gives considerable ethnographic attention to tribal elections, non-Indians, urban Indians, economic development, and tribal water rights.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: North American Indian Prose Award


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

"It is impossible to thank adequately the many people who made it possible to write this book. I have benefited enormously from the generosity, support, insight, and kindness of many wonderful people along the way, and my feelings of gratitude and appreciation run deep."

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-18

"In the spring of 1995, when I began conducting anthropological field research among members of my own tribal nation, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, I was struck by the extent to which formal membership (or citizenship) in our tribe had become a measure of Choctaw..."

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2. The Journey Has Been Long and Hard: Chocktaw Culture, Society, and History through 1970

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pp. 19-60

"The Choctaws and Chickasaws, say Choctaw leaders and storytellers, come from a land far to the west of the homeland in which we lived when Europeans first encountered our two tribes. At that time, it is said, the..."

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3. "Because We Were Proud to Be Chocktaw" Political Mobilization and the Reconstitution of the Tribe

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pp. 61-110

"In 1969, I got a knock on the door,' said seventy-five-year-old Choctaw Charles Brown about the beginning of the Choctaw youth movement that helped effect the repeal of the 1959 Choctaw termination legislation. Brown, a Choctaw full-blood, had been the youth movement's most..."

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4. "Tomorrow Is the Day YOU Are Chief" Leaders, Citizens, and Political Groups in the 1995 Election

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pp. 111-156

"Tomorrow is the day you are chief!' roared Hollis Roberts to a crowd of about four hundred on the eve of the 1995 Choctaw tribal election. 'You call the shots! Do you want your friends and neighbors lifted up? Or, do you want to slip back and go by the wayside? . . . Do you want to continue..."

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5. "The First of Many Good Things to Come from the Tribe" Identity, Race, and Economic Development in Kalichito Town

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pp. 157-206

"Much fanfare accompanied the completion in the mid-1990s of a tribal travel plaza in the three-hundred-member community of Kalichito in the south-central part of the Choctaw Nation. The day of the Kalichito project's 'Grand Opening,' dozens of residents of the town-mostly Choctaws- huddled together in clumps in the wide black parking lot of the new..."

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6. "We Don't Believe That Claim Is Valid" Chocktaw Sovereignty Assertions and the Water-Rights Conflict of 2001

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pp. 207-250

"At a regular session of the Choctaw Nation Tribal Council in the summer of 1992, tribal councilman Charley Jones reported on his recent trip to France. Representing the Choctaw Nation, Mr. Jones said that he was one of seven 'ambassadors' from 'various Indian nations' with whom..."

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7. Conclusion

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pp. 251-262

"This book has explored one of the most important and inspiring eras in the history of the Choctaw Nation, the era of tribal nation building that began in the late twentieth century. I have addressed questions about how, specifically, this era was forged, how it unfolded, and the ways by which..."


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pp. 263-278

Works Cited

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pp. 279-294


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pp. 295-303

E-ISBN-13: 9780803206687
E-ISBN-10: 0803206682

Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: North American Indian Prose Award