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Area and Ethnic Studies > Native American and Indigenous Studies

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Chocolate and Corn Flour Cover

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Chocolate and Corn Flour

History, Race, and Place in the Making of "Black" Mexico

Laura A. Lewis

Located on Mexico's Pacific coast in a historically black part of the Costa Chica region, the town of San Nicolás has been identified as a center of Afromexican culture by Mexican cultural authorities, journalists, activists, and foreign anthropologists. The majority of the town's residents, however, call themselves morenos (black Indians). In Chocolate and Corn Flour, Laura A. Lewis explores the history and contemporary culture of San Nicolás, focusing on the ways that local inhabitants experience and understand race, blackness, and indigeneity, as well as on the cultural values that outsiders place on the community and its residents. Drawing on more than a decade of fieldwork, Lewis offers a richly detailed and subtle ethnography of the lives and stories of the people of San Nicolás, including community residents who have migrated to the United States. San Nicoladenses, she finds, have complex attitudes toward blackness—as a way of identifying themselves and as a racial and cultural category. They neither consider themselves part of an African diaspora nor deny their heritage. Rather, they acknowledge their hybridity and choose to identify most deeply with their community.

Choctaw Nation Cover

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Choctaw Nation

A Story of American Indian Resurgence

Valerie Lambert

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.

Choctaw Prophecy Cover

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Choctaw Prophecy

A Legacy for the Future

Written by Tom Mould

This intriguing study explores the power and artistry of prophecy among the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, who use predictions about the future to interpret the world around them.

This book challenges the common assumption that American Indian prophecy was an anomaly of the 18th and 19th centuries that resulted from tribes across the continent reacting to the European invasion. Tom Mould's study of the contemporary prophetic traditions of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians reveals a much larger system of prophecy that continues today as a vibrant part of the oral tradition.

Mould shows that Choctaw prophecy is more than a prediction of the future; it is a way to unite the past, present, and future in a moral dialogue about how one should live. Choctaw prophecy, he argues, is stable and continuous; it is shared in verbal discourse, inviting negotiation on the individual level; and, because it is a tradition of all the people, it manifests itself through myriad visions with many themes. In homes, casinos, restaurants, laundromats, day care centers, and grocery stores, as well as in ceremonial and political situations, people discuss current events and put them into context with traditional stories that govern the culture. In short, recitation is widely used in everyday life as a way to interpret, validate, challenge, and create the world of the Choctaw speaker.

Choctaw Prophecy stands as a sound model for further study into the prophetic traditions of not only other American Indian tribes but also communities throughout the world. Weaving folklore and oral tradition with ethnography, this book will be useful to academic and public libraries as well as to scholars and students of southern Indians and the modern South.


Chosen People, a Promised Land Cover

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Chosen People, a Promised Land

Mormonism and Race in Hawai’i

Hokulani K. Aikau

Christianity figured prominently in the imperial and colonial exploitation and dispossession of indigenous peoples worldwide, yet many indigenous people embrace Christian faith as part of their cultural and ethnic identities. A Chosen People, a Promised Land gets to the heart of this contradiction by exploring how Native Hawaiian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (more commonly known as Mormons) understand and negotiate their place in this quintessentially American religion.

Mormon missionaries arrived in Hawai‘i in 1850, a mere twenty years after Joseph Smith founded the church. Hokulani K. Aikau traces how Native Hawaiians became integrated into the religious doctrine of the church as a “chosen people”—even at a time when exclusionary racial policies regarding black members of the church were being codified. Aikau shows how Hawaiians and other Polynesian saints came to be considered chosen and how they were able to use their venerated status toward their own spiritual, cultural, and pragmatic ends.

Using the words of Native Hawaiian Latter-Day Saints to illuminate the intersections of race, colonization, and religion, A Chosen People, a Promised Land examines Polynesian Mormon articulations of faith and identity within a larger political context of self-determination.

Climate and Culture Change in North America AD 900–1600 Cover

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Climate and Culture Change in North America AD 900–1600

By William C. Foster

Correlating climate change and archaeological data, an award-winning historian offers the first comprehensive overview of how the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age significantly impacted the Native cultures of the American Southwest, Southern Plains, and Southeast.

Climate, Culture, Change Cover

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Climate, Culture, Change

Inuit and Western Dialogues with a Warming North

by Timothy B. Leduc

Every day brings new headlines about climate change as politicians debate how to respond, scientists offer new data, and skeptics critique the validity of the research. To step outside these scientific and political debates, Timothy Leduc engages with various Inuit understandings of northern climate change. What he learns is that today’s climate changes are not only affecting our environments, but also our cultures. By focusing on the changes currently occurring in the north, he highlights the challenges being posed to Western climate research, Canadian politics and traditional Inuit knowledge.


Climate, Culture, Change sheds light on the cultural challenges posed by northern warming and proposes an intercultural response that is demonstrated by the blending of Inuit and Western perspectives.

The Collected Works of Benjamin Hawkins Cover

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The Collected Works of Benjamin Hawkins

Written by Benjamin Hawkins and introduction by Howard Thomas Foster

A comprehensive collection of the most important sources on the late historic Creek Indians and their environment.

In 1795 Benjamin Hawkins, a former U.S. senator and advisor to George Washington, was appointed U.S. Indian agent and superintendent of all the tribes south of the Ohio River. Unlike most other agents, he lived among the Creek Indians for his entire tenure, from 1796 to 1816. Journeying forth from his home on the Flint River in Georgia, he served southeastern Indians as government intermediary during one of the longest eras of peace in the historic period.

Hawkins's journals provide detailed information about European-Indian relations in the 18th-century frontier of the South. His descriptions of the natural and cultural environment are considered among the best sources for the ethnohistory of the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and, especially, the Creek Indians and the natural history of their territory.

Two previously published bodies of work by Benjamin Hawkins are included here-A Sketch of the Creek Country in the Years 1798 and 1799 and The Letters of Benjamin Hawkins 1796-1806. A third body of work that has never been published, "A Viatory or Journal of Distances" (describing routes and distances of a 3,578-mile journey through parts of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi), has been added. Together, these documents make up the known body of Hawkins' work—his talks, treaties, correspondence, aboriginal vocabularies, travel journals, and records of the manners, customs, rites, and civil polity of the tribes. Hawkins' work provides an invaluable record of the time period.


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Colonial Entanglement

Constituting a Twenty-First Century Osage Nation

Jean Dennison

From 2004 to 2006 the Osage Nation conducted a contentious governmental reform process in which sharply differing visions arose over the new government's goals, the Nation's own history, and what it means to be Osage. Osage anthropologist Jean Dennison do

Color of the Land Cover

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Color of the Land

Race, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929

David A. Chang

Chang brings the histories of Creek Indians, African Americans, and whites in Oklahoma together into one story that explores the way races and nations were made and remade in conflicts over who would own land, who would farm it, and who would rule it. He argues that in struggles over land, wealth, and power, Oklahomans actively defined and redefined what it meant to be Native American, African American, or white.

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Comanche Ethnography

Field Notes of E. Adamson Hoebel, Waldo R. Wedel, Gustav G. Carlson, and Robert H. Lowie

Thomas W. Kavanagh

In the summer of 1933 in Lawton, Oklahoma, a team of six anthropologists met with eighteen Comanche elders to record the latter’s reminiscences of traditional Comanche culture. The depth and breadth of what the elderly Comanches recalled provides an inestimable source of knowledge for generations to come, both within and beyond the Comanche community. This monumental volume makes available for the first time the largest archive of traditional cultural information on Comanches ever gathered by American anthropologists.

Much of the Comanches’ earlier world is presented here—religious stories, historical accounts, autobiographical remembrances, cosmology, the practice of war, everyday games, birth rituals, funerals, kinship relations, the organization of camps, material culture, and relations with other tribes.

Thomas W. Kavanagh tracked down all known surviving notes from the Santa Fe Laboratory field party and collated and annotated the records, learning as much as possible about the Comanche elders who spoke with the anthropologists and, when possible, attributing pieces of information to the appropriate elders. In addition, this volume includes Robert H. Lowie’s notes from his short 1912 visit to the Comanches. The result stands as a legacy for both Comanches and those interested in learning more about them.

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