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Nearly two centuries ago, Native scholars and activists published calls for histories of their people that emphasized their humanity and agency and engaged Indigenous intellectual traditions. Renewing and extending their calls, this William and Mary Quarterly and Early American Literature joint Forum challenges early American studies to embrace the materials and methods of Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS). In the Forum introduction, we note that in more recent decades the New Indian History and early Native literary studies rearticulated calls for this turn; however, our assessment of the field demonstrates that we have yet to realize fully its potential. Foregrounding Native people as enduring agents, rather than representations, and centering Native peoples' and nations' intellectual, literary, and material histories requires sustained structural shifts in our field. Scholars working to complete early American studies' turn to NAIS, including the seven authors featured in this Forum, are generating new approaches to the field's established archives, periodizations, and geographic boundaries, along with expanded understandings of evidence and genre. We conclude by anticipating consequent institutional changes, from innovations in graduate training to exchanges with NAIS scholars and a reevaluation of terms central to our field, from colonial to history and literature.

WE begin this joint Forum by sounding a call and marking that call's history. In this introduction, published in both Early American Literature and the William and Mary Quarterly, we urge practitioners of early American studies to engage in structural and substantive ways with the materials and methods of Native American and Indigenous studies (NAIS). This engagement will enliven and strengthen our scholarship, even as it asks literary scholars and historians to reimagine the objects of our study and to grapple with the political ramifications of our research on the past. Far from a novel or unprecedented argument, our call to embrace NAIS's materials and methods is an old one. In the early nineteenth century, Haudenosaunee scholar David Cusick and Pequot activist William Apess critiqued texts by non-Native writers for inaccurately portraying Native American histories and cultures, pointing out that these works created problematic representational categories and perpetuated stereotypes about Native peoples. In response, Cusick and Apess penned books [End Page 207] depicting Native peoples on their own terms, and their texts are emblems of a Native intellectual tradition that insists on Native peoples' centrality and humanity.1

Nearly two centuries later, early Americanist scholars continued this call for new approaches to studying and writing about Native peoples. In 1989, writing in the WMQ, James H. Merrell urged historians to attend to the New Indian History and, in doing so, to shift their assumptions about America's past.2 Reflecting on the same subject in 2012, Merrell noted that historians had increasingly turned to study Native peoples and their "vital" role in shaping the "strange land called colonial America," investigating Native Americans' place in tried and true early American topics and approaching Native peoples as legitimate subjects of study in their own right. Yet Merrell also sounded a note of caution, pointing out that scholars' interest in Native peoples and histories remained intermittent and often cosmetic, and thereby reiterated his own earlier call for scholarship that centers on Native history to reshape early American historiography.3 Meanwhile, literary scholars were engaging in similar reassessments of their field. A 2010 EAL article by Stephanie Fitzgerald and Hilary E. Wyss urged literary scholars to revise their treatment of periodization and textuality to account for Indigenous literatures. Fitzgerald and Wyss noted that scholarship on early American texts has particular relevance to the concerns of Native nations today, and they argued that early Americanist scholars have a responsibility to construct interpretations that are both sensitive to their effects on Native communities and attentive to culturally specific literacies. As a result, scholars must often venture beyond the study of Euro-American [End Page 208] alphabetic and literary texts.4 Fitzgerald and Wyss's article echoed a 2007 call Robert Warrior made in a review essay for EAL, urging literary scholars to broaden their archives to include tribal repositories and oral histories and to consider texts written by Native people rather than limiting their studies to representations of Native peoples as they were imagined by colonists. Warrior, in turn, cited Lucy Maddox's Removals as a "pivotal" text urging early Americanists to include Native topics in their studies; Maddox's book opens by noting, "Our working definition of American literature has not yet been able to accommodate Indian texts, oral or written, very comfortably."5

Collectively, Cusick, Apess, Merrell, Fitzgerald, Wyss, Warrior, Maddox, and many others encouraged early Americanists to change the ways they studied and wrote about Native American literatures and histories. The fact that these calls have been repeated over the centuries—and that we are once again echoing them here—suggests the incomplete nature of the methodological turn that began in early American history with the New Indian History in the 1970s and in early American literary studies with a focus on alternative literacies in the 1990s.6 We believe that our fields are poised for new structural and organizational relationships with NAIS's methods and materials that can help us complete this turn and thereby move beyond the cycle of calls for methodological change we have identified here. [End Page 209]

For the purposes of this Forum, we take NAIS to be an established and evolving interdisciplinary field defined by key tenets: first, that Native people were and continue to be active presences who shape texts, political discourse, and historical events, none of which have predetermined forms or outcomes; second, that Native people have always communicated and expressed themselves in a variety of media, from speeches to images to inscribed materials; third, that Native communities and their knowledge bearers, past and present, possess expertise critical to our fields' analytic and interpretive work; and fourth, that Native literatures and histories manifest tribally specific genres, languages, chronologies, and geographic boundaries, which often contrast with European phenomena.7 These four tenets in turn have implications for scholarly methodologies, with the result that NAIS analyzes Indigenous peoples' intellectual traditions, literatures, histories, and sociopolitical formations; foregrounds Native perspectives and contexts as foundational to accurate and conscientious scholarship; and shows that scholars are responsible for knowing that what they say about the past and how they say it has an ethical obligation to and tangible impact upon descendant communities and polities. If early Americanists take up NAIS's methods as delineated here, they can ask different questions, return to established topics from new perspectives, and find novel approaches to the materials—some that are quite familiar, some that will be less so—at the center of their research. Scholarship of this sort promises to transform intra- and interdisciplinary conversations with new methods and new orientations to our disciplinary expertise.8

This joint Forum accordingly takes as its focus materials and methods, rather than the customary sources and interpretations. We discuss materials to draw attention to the objects of our study and to query the archives, secondary scholarship, and experts we consult in order to create knowledge about early America. We ask how centering spoken, image-based, material-object, and Indigenous-language texts might productively revise our respective disciplines' conceptions of literary and historical evidence. [End Page 210] We aim, as well, to draw attention to the material structures that shape our research and its results, from archives and graduate training to processes of peer review and citation practices. These various materials likewise require a reconsideration of our methods, and we focus on this term, rather than interpretation, because methods speak to both how we do our work and what questions we ask. Methods influence the possibilities for our production of knowledge—in other words, for the stories we learn and tell about early America. We keep our focus on methods to foreground the significance of practice—of doing—and the consequences that either adopting or ignoring some scholarly practices might have for the field. Moreover, foregrounding methods reminds us that, in addition to being a field, NAIS is a discipline with a discrete history, discrete methodologies, and discrete institutional structures. Though many of the field's leaders were trained in disciplines such as history, literature, and anthropology, they have subsequently built institutional spaces for NAIS. Multiple universities in the United States and Canada now offer graduate degrees in Native American and Indigenous studies, and the field's scholarly organization and journal—which we discuss below—theorize and circulate NAIS disciplinary principles. This Forum's focus on materials and methods is thus one that simultaneously calls for new conversations with NAIS and reorients our relationships to familiar stories and sites of knowledge.

The Forum's articles model and discuss the implications of this move to ask what early American studies might learn from NAIS materials and methods. Seven essays are divided between the WMQ and EAL: article-length pieces by Lisa Brooks, David A. Chang, and Alejandra Dubcovsky appear in the WMQ, along with a shorter essay—more in line with the journal's Sources and Interpretations offerings—by Christian Ayne Crouch, and article-length pieces by Daniel Radus, Phillip H. Round, and Scott Manning Stevens appear in EAL. We asked each contributor to choose one object—a text, an archive, an artifact in a museum, an image—on which to focus and to use methodologies drawn from NAIS to analyze those materials. Though some authors subsequently expanded the number of objects under scrutiny, the attention to materials and materiality remains the foundation for our consideration of NAIS methodologies and their potential to invigorate early American studies.

We call for attending more substantively to NAIS because we recognize the scholarly benefits of engagement with the field. We are a Native and two non-Native scholars, each with various relationships to tribal nations and urban Native communities. Like that of many early Americanists, our formal training reflects the uneven ways that NAIS has been institutionalized. Two of us did not attend a graduate program in NAIS, while the third has a graduate minor in American Indian studies. Indeed, our training has often relied on the informal networks that have been critical to NAIS's [End Page 211] development, reflecting the field's uneven integration into graduate curricula and the recent creation of several stand-alone doctoral programs.9 We benefit from the mentorship of generous senior colleagues, seminars sponsored by research libraries, participation in Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) meetings, and reading in the field's scholarship. We write here out of a conviction that NAIS scholarship can enliven studies of early American texts and peoples, as well as out of a hope that future early American studies research will complete the turn toward NAIS's materials and methods.


It is an opportune moment to renew the call for and to model scholarship that draws on NAIS within an early American studies context. Recent conference themes and plenary panels at the Society of Early Americanists (SEA) and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture (OIEAHC) annual meetings have highlighted Native histories, authors, and textualities. Several SEA presidents, the director of the OIEAHC, and program committees have worked successfully to increase the number of papers and panels on Native American and Indigenous topics at the organizations' conferences. Indeed, papers focusing on Native American texts and subjects at SEA conferences have steadily increased since 2007, with an upsurge in 2013 and sharp increases at the joint OIEAHC-SEA conference in 2015 and at the SEA conference in 2017. The 2016 OIEAHC annual conference chose "Native American Transformations" as one of its key themes, resulting in many papers and panels oriented around Native American histories. In 2017 the OIEAHC annual conference included a roundtable titled "Clearing a Path: Methods, Materials, Training, and Publications in Native American Scholarship," chaired by one of this Forum's organizers.10 These developments complement, and in some ways rely on, NAISA's institutional development. Since 2007 NAISA has provided an intellectual home for scholars working in the field. The association's development is discussed below, but here it is worth noting its dramatic growth during the past decade: the annual meeting regularly draws 800–1,000 registered participants and features 160–80 [End Page 212] sessions.11 To be sure, the NAISA conference program tends to emphasize contemporary topics, but in 2014 two linked sessions on "indigenizing early modern and early American studies" drew audiences that exceeded room capacity, and the 2015 NAISA annual meeting featured twenty-four panels addressing early American topics.12 Contributors to this Forum frequently attend NAISA meetings, and several have held leadership positions within the association.

These trends signal welcome, field-wide, and long-standing interest in Native American authors and topics, but it is worth turning to early Americanist flagship journals to determine how this energy is translated into published scholarship and to assess the degree to which published articles engage with the materials and methods of NAIS. To what extent does early American studies scholarship take understanding Native American peoples, cultures, and literatures as a primary goal? Does this scholarship foreground Indigenous perspectives and contexts? Do early Americanists consider their work's ethical obligations to descendant communities and polities?

In terms of early American history, WMQ issues from 2010 to 2016 include a considerable number of articles, Forums, and Sources and Interpretations essays on subjects related to Native American and Indigenous tribal nations and communities.13 Out of around one hundred total articles and Forums, roughly thirty either foreground Native American peoples and communities as a primary or substantive secondary subject of study or focus on the material and environmental cultures of Native peoples—moccasins, wild rice, and tobacco—although these latter pieces do not always explicitly identify their topics as Native ones. Of these Native-centered offerings, about twenty discuss Indigenous peoples as agents, with around ten engaging the discoveries and sources of other disciplines—anthropology, archaeology, art history, linguistics, literary studies, political science—and with seven focusing on particular Indigenous people or nations. Out of the twenty-six Sources and Interpretations essays, 15 percent discuss or recover primary sources produced by Native peoples. This review of the WMQ's recent issues suggests both that the New Indian History continues to influence [End Page 213] early American historiography and that many scholars understand Native American peoples, intellectual traditions, and histories as central to the project of writing early American history.

Yet a consideration of the articles' citations and geographic scope gives us pause. The articles rarely include perspectives and interpretations produced by tribal communities and informed by NAIS methodologies. Very few authors attend to the stakes of their work for living Native peoples and their legal and cultural statuses. And some articles and Forums—such as a Forum on tobacco, slavery, and empire in Virginia—offer surprisingly little mention of Native peoples. These issues of the WMQ are also characterized by a dearth of essays on Native and Indigenous peoples in the West, Northwest, Caribbean, Pacific Coast, Mississippi Valley, and South America.14

In the same period, EAL published nearly 150 articles and seven Forums composed of short pieces. Twenty-seven—just under 20 percent—of these publications consider Native American literary histories or peoples in a substantive way, either by taking Native American topics as their primary subject or by including them as a significant secondary focus. In the book review section, around 15 percent of reviews focus on publications that employ NAIS methodologies to study Native writers in the early Americas, with the result that EAL book reviews offer an excellent guide to the most recent monographs in this area. And starting in 2013, about two articles per issue make reference to NAIS subjects, from Native peoples to colonialism and indigeneity.15

Yet a focus on colonial representations of Native peoples—perhaps an inheritance from New Historicism's influence on the field—remains central to publications in EAL. Nineteen of the twenty-seven articles about Native topics focus on representations in texts by colonists. These articles examine such portrayals as a facet of colonial discourse connected to Euro-American contexts and literary histories but are less concerned with Native literary histories, media, and intellectual or cultural contexts. European genres [End Page 214] and languages, especially English, continue to orient the articles, which also center printed or written texts as primary objects of study. With the exception of one article on adopted Mohawk John Norton published in late 2016, no essay focuses on a Native author writing before 1830, meaning that from 2010 to 2016 the journal's authors did not analyze, for example, the writings of Samson Occom or William Apess, authors whose works have recently appeared in modern editions and anthologies (although we note that an article on Apess appeared in late 2017 and an article on Pontiac in early 2018).16 The Northeast and the East Coast remain key areas of focus, as do representations of Native people in the imaginations of canonical early American authors such as Mary Rowlandson, Charles Brockden Brown, and James Fenimore Cooper.

Our review of the journal issues suggests that, in the two flagship journals of early American studies, many scholars are eager to incorporate Native and Indigenous materials and methods but remain uncertain about whether or how to complete the turn. This uncertainty is evident in historians' and literary scholars' continued focus on colonial representations rather than sustained consideration of Indigenous people as agents and authors, whether Native peoples are the main subject of research or part of a larger investigation. It is also evident in the dominant presence of colonial archives and their categories of inquiry, genre, language, and periodization over NAIS materials and categories. The interpretive and critical expertise of Native communities and their knowledge bearers is often not foundational to analysis, nor have literary scholars and historians fully grappled with the significance of early American studies research for the present. In short, we have yet to fully embrace the significance of NAIS for our scholarship. Moreover, NAIS materials and methods have yet to influence early American studies' institutional structures in an enduring and substantive way that would affect peer-review processes, editorial boards, graduate training, archival research, and the other practices that constitute our fields and that would encourage scholars working with those materials and methods to view EAL and the WMQ as sympathetic venues for publication. We posit that the growing activity and interest surrounding Native American literatures and histories, on the one hand, and our field's imperfect attention to what it means to understand Native American people as complex agents, [End Page 215] on the other, is a structural imbalance that requires a structural solution if we hope to successfully address the calls from writers such as Cusick, Apess, and beyond.

In what follows, we describe some of the causes and consequences of this intermittent and incomplete engagement with NAIS and propose ways that early American studies might be productively restructured by a deep and long-lasting conversation with NAIS. We begin by examining the challenges of working with materials collected and sometimes created by Euro-Americans. We foreground the consequences of uncritically reproducing methodologies grounded in colonial perspectives, and we suggest strategies for expanding our archives and archival methods. Next, we consider the geographic and temporal boundaries that have shaped our fields and delimited our objects of study. Here we call for a theoretical and practical reorientation of these boundaries to account for Native American temporalities and political structures, a reorientation that might align with but also departs from recent geographic "turns," from Atlantic studies to hemispheric approaches. We conclude with specific suggestions for actions early Americanists can take to interact with NAIS at structural and institutional levels. Scholars in other arenas of early American studies—such as women's writing, queer history, and Black Atlantic studies—are making parallel calls for reorientations as well as querying material legacies and the methodological challenges they present.17 This Forum, therefore, addresses pressing questions that pertain throughout early American studies. We have much to teach each other, and we have much to learn from other fields, even as we also have much to share.


Materials shape our methods, from the questions we pose to the practices we use to answer them and the language with which we report our findings. Because early American studies necessarily relies primarily on materials in archives created by and for colonists, their aims and biases have historically configured the field even as scholars have begun to call attention [End Page 216] to the myriad materials created by Native people that reside in these archives and elsewhere. Colonialist and Native materials and archives alike present challenges to integrating NAIS methodologies, yet concrete steps can address those challenges.

In the case of materials created by and for colonists, the field from its earliest manifestations made its name by studying materials devoted to justifying European settlement in the Americas and to defending the particular socioeconomic, religious, linguistic, and environmental qualities by which colonists defined themselves. We have access to particular documents and texts for various reasons: because they were records of imperial administration or created as part of religious missions; because a text was seen as contributing to efforts to collect the evidence of a uniquely American past; because Native people intentionally created objects for exchanges with colonists; or because documents were collected as part of what we might call salvage bibliography, the effort to gather Indigenous poetry, narratives, and oratory before Native peoples allegedly vanished. As this partial list suggests, Native materials that are now archival objects and texts were frequently obtained in contexts of duress or without permission; they were nearly always enfolded into colonialist narratives that aimed to determine the meaning of Indigenous writing and actions. Recent scholarship has attended to the colonial origins and aims of early American archives, but the field remains largely centered around materials in these archives, and scholars conduct archival research in the same libraries originally erected to facilitate scholarship that served national and imperial frameworks.18

Early American studies necessarily and fruitfully engages with these sources, but doing so uncritically can risk retransmitting the biases and assumptions encoded in colonists' language and worldviews. As Lisa Brooks has observed, studies that continue to privilege what is known—the traditional regions, languages, and objects of early Americanist study—over "what many do not know"—Indigenous "network[s] of kinship and waterways," languages, and modes of communicating—risk constructing Indigenous materials as "foreign," unknowable, invisible, or unimportant.19 For example, studies that refer to settlers and settlements without a modifier such as "European" quietly reiterate colonists' claims that America was empty and that Native peoples lacked concepts of possessing land or [End Page 217] establishing settlements. Such studies may also overlook the processes of negotiation or violence by which European settlers claimed land in the Americas. Meanwhile, as James H. Merrell pointed out in 2012, studies that quote colonists' references to Native people as "savages" or their lands as "frontier" or "backcountry" without acknowledging the inaccuracy of this language and its ongoing harmful effects make distinguishing between a scholar's and a colonist's voice difficult. Such studies risk recirculating the categories of human difference embedded in colonial language even as they may reiterate settler colonial processes of making ongoing violence against Native peoples invisible. The "pervasive, pernicious language problem" that Merrell critiqued at length in 2012 has not only had remarkable staying power but risks trapping the field in another cycle of scholarship that foregrounds colonial archives, representations, and frameworks.20 Without also engaging with NAIS materials and methods, scholars—including those not working solely on Native American subjects—may miss these biases and assumptions and thereby produce partial and skewed research. Finally, this continuing reliance on colonial sources and non-NAIS scholarship inaccurately suggests that we lack methodologies and sources for studying topics such as colonization, exploration, and settlement from Indigenous perspectives or that Native people never commented on these topics in early periods.

One consequence of our reliance on these archives is that scholars' parsing of materials—of what we categorize as "literature" or "evidence"—emerges from colonists' own conceptions of these categories. For example, Christian Ayne Crouch's study of plans in this Forum shows that scholars have studied these documents "through a European colonial lens of spatial relationships and interimperial conflict" in no small part because they have been housed in map departments and archives created by colonial bureaucracies. Additionally, colonists' emphasis on alphabetic literacy and insistence that trustworthy history take written forms continue to orient both historiographical practices and conceptions of the literary, despite the ongoing importance of oral traditions and nonalphabetic materials for Native authors and communities.21 As Robert Warrior points out, the discipline of literary [End Page 218] studies has privileged some genres over others as "literary," resulting in blindness to Native American texts that do not seem to fit dominant generic and archival categories.22 Allowing genres such as the captivity narrative, novel, and sermon and forms of literacy such as alphabetic writing to orient our literary histories can silence Indigenous literary and intellectual histories while leaving to the side or framing through colonial categories the diverse media and oratorical practices on which Native people drew.

How, then, might early Americanists create research that relies on materials held in colonial archives without implicitly or unconsciously replicating their analytic, linguistic, and generic categories? How might NAIS methodologies enable early Americanists to resist colonialist narratives and to consider our materials in terms that account for Native perspectives, generic definitions, and modes of evidence? In the case of materials created by Native people, how can our scholarship attend to these materials' histories, especially the processes—often linked to colonialism—by which they came to be placed in archives? Answering these questions requires expanding and redefining early Americanist archives in light of NAIS materials and methodologies by foregrounding Native genres, authors, and categories of evidence. Shifting our citation practices and, by extension, our methodologies by grounding our scholarship in NAIS can alter the status of the colonial archive to center Native peoples and to foreground Native literary and historical categories.

These shifts in materials and methods involve a rethinking of our field's key disciplinary categories, a process that manifests in different ways for literary scholars and historians. Engaging with NAIS requires literary scholars to revisit our definition of literature, both by adopting tribally specific frameworks of analysis and by expanding the texts that count as literary. In the first case, NAIS methods define literary histories by beginning with the genres, media, and contexts specific to a writer's tribal nation as frameworks for analysis. How, for example, might we understand Samson Occom's sermons not only through the lens of Protestant religious genres but also through Mohegan practices of oratory? Reflecting on tribally specific [End Page 219] methodologies in the context of Cherokee literatures, Daniel Heath Justice contends that they are a "direct intervention in a representational history that has consistently and aggressively denied Indigenous peoples the right to be heard or even recognized as having any sort of authority over our own ideas and expressions."23 One might interpret his stance to include authority over naming and describing what counts as literature and what functions as genre. Indeed, for Indigenous peoples, scriptive and nonscriptive texts alike constitute literary traditions. Thus archival expansion must also entail giving Native-authored oral or material texts weight as literature. Kiowa and Lakota histories, for example, have taken written form in treaties and collaboratively created printed histories, but these nations' genres can be fully understood only when we also consider winter counts (paintings on hide or cloth representing historically significant events). Of course, the skills necessary for working across multiple media are not always valued by modern language departments such as English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. An early Americanist turn toward an expanded definition of literature and genre would provide intellectual and scholarly support to our colleagues in all departments and disciplines.

As for historians, an archival expansion challenges the field's conception of what materials count as evidence. Native peoples have their own documentary practices that preexisted and continue alongside colonization. Historians can look to textual and nontextual archives and address the material circumstances of archive creation and arrangement in order to craft histories that escape the biases and assumptions of settler colonization and account for the contingency of the past. Scott Manning Stevens's pointed commitment to considering material objects and paintings as well as more traditional forms of evidence such as historical archives and novels serves as a case in point. His article for this Forum meditates on the processes by which some materials have been categorized as art and others as evidence, and he proposes new methodologies, oriented by a Haudenosaunee-centric approach, to illuminate interconnections among these materials and to investigate how Haudenosaunee peoples crucially shaped textual and [End Page 220] nontextual records representing their people. Stevens's article attests to the ways that NAIS methodologies can produce knowledge otherwise thought impossible from the standpoint of traditional early Americanist archives and practices.24

Moreover, historians and literary scholars alike can expand early Americanist archives by shifting the sites of our research. For example, NAIS scholarship draws on community-engaged and community-driven research, and in doing so it highlights archives that have the potential to reshape early American studies and to make our scholarship more relevant to tribal nations and other descendant communities. In one model of this methodology, Lisa Brooks's contribution to this Forum invites readers into an "activity of ôjmowôgan (history, or collective telling/narration, raconter)," a process in which she, in collaboration with undergraduate students, created a map for Mary Rowlandson's captivity narrative informed by Wabanaki and Nipmuc knowledge keepers that recenters northeastern places within Indigenous geographies. Brooks troubles conventional notions of literary history by illuminating the shortcomings of traditional archives if considered apart from oral histories, even while she offers a model for community-engaged, land-based methodologies.25 Following her lead will bring early Americanists to archives that look nothing like those found in the traditional repository.

Such an expansion of the archive to include tribal libraries, oral histories, and community members recognizes that Native Americans are not simply the objects of archiving. Instead, they maintain their own familial and tribal archives, whether in formally organized repositories such as the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center and the Archives at the Cherokee Heritage Center or in family stories and private collections. The presence of these archives should encourage scholars to approach Native writers and historical figures from our periods as subjects who themselves maintained collections documenting interactions with empires and nations and detailing the effects of colonialism and the survival of Native peoples. Similarly, tribal nations presently maintain deeply researched understandings of their pasts, which themselves constitute archives that significantly complicate and sometimes contradict colonial histories. Engaging with these material and knowledge archives requires scholars to consider their ethical relationship to Native communities. As Christine M. DeLucia has suggested, early Americanists can reckon with their responsibilities to the descendants of the peoples they study by engaging in collaborations in which research questions and outcomes are shaped by tribal concerns and questions or in consultations during which scholars reach out to communities to confer or comment. Importantly, these [End Page 221] methodologies also entail establishing relationships with tribal nations and individuals; such engagements require reorienting the value of local, communal knowledge by placing it alongside the textual and archival research that has historically held the most authority in our fields.26

These proposed shifts will likely require the acquisition of new expertise for many scholars, such as learning Indigenous languages and about specific tribal histories, knowledge-keeping practices, and expressive traditions. As several scholars have recently pointed out, Indigenous language archives are crucial sites for understanding tribal nations' history and diplomacy as well as Indigenous responses to Western religious and literacy practices.27 Nonetheless, they are scarcely studied by early Americanist scholars, who are usually trained in European languages. Similarly, depth of knowledge about a Native culture and its expressive traditions assists scholars in producing rich and nuanced analyses. In this Forum Daniel Radus's article not only considers the Anishinaabe contexts for Margaret Boyd's nineteenth-century quillworked book covers, thereby centering the Odawas as a sovereign nation with unique political and aesthetic goals and practices, but also uses the insights gained through an immersion in tribally specific material practices to understand earlier written materials.28 Developing new expertise, establishing relationships with Native communities, and incorporating new archives and approaches require considerable commitments of time and effort. Graduate programs, tenure-review committees, and peer-review processes will need to prepare and account for these challenges. Doing so is necessary to facilitate the production of more complete histories and literary analyses, ones that have the potential to reorient the field. [End Page 222]


Engaging with the materials and methods of NAIS reorients early American studies because the field's geographic and temporal contours, like its archives, have been defined by colonial categories and experiences. The early of early America has long held a certain supple vagueness while also remaining tethered to the first centuries of colonization, the American Revolution, and the initial decades of the United States. Likewise, American has been used in an ambiguous fashion, usually serving as a synonym for British North American regions that became the early national United States; occasionally stretching to include parts of eastern Canada, the Caribbean, and non-British territories that later were incorporated into the United States; and only in the past few decades coming to refer—in theory and rhetoric, if not always in practice—to an entire continent or hemisphere.29 Even in the case of Latin American studies, European languages, colonial eras, and emergent nationalisms often define geographic and temporal borders. The materials and methods of early American historians and literary scholars alike—in their focus on European-language writings, especially English, and in their disciplinary origins in European scholarly methods—have serially reconfirmed and re-inscribed boundaries defined by colonialist perspectives, even when the subjects in question are not wholly European or Euro-American.

Early American scholarship must reorient—in theory and in practice—the traditional borders of the field. This reorientation resonates with a growing consensus that the field should attend to what OIEAHC director Karin Wulf called "#VastEarlyAmerica" in her 2016 Twitter project.30 For Wulf, vastness refers to "subjects, chronologies and geographies."31 Early American literary scholars have also nodded toward a similar intellectual shift through both special topic conferences such as the Early Ibero/Anglo-Americanist Summits (held in 2002, 2004, 2010, and 2016) and the articles in EAL's recent fiftieth-anniversary issue (2015), which foregrounded questions of [End Page 223] time, geography, and genre; that journal, moreover, will soon publish a special issue devoted to the Spanish Americas. As these undertakings suggest, early Americanists are already substantively and institutionally grappling with early America's multidimensional vastness.32

Indeed, the field is experiencing an ongoing geographic turn, one that follows a concomitant shift among Americanists more broadly, who have adopted hemispheric, Atlantic, continental, and global outlooks. While still studying its traditional base along North America's eastern shoreline, scholars have also directed their gazes in other directions. Indeed, one of the most important transformations of the field in recent years has been brought about by Atlantic studies. Yet the turn to multiple geographies is proving to be a slow and difficult one, as evidenced by the preponderance of scholarship that continues to focus on the Eastern Seaboard of North America, and one effect of the rise of Atlantic studies has been to deepen the marginalization of Native peoples. Like those scholars who critique the hemispheric turn in American studies for continuing to place the United States and imperialism at its center, we argue that uncritical expansion can continue to privilege European colonialisms and postrevolutionary nationalisms and imperialisms while diluting the significance of Native geographies, genres, and temporalities.33 As Claudio Saunt put it a decade ago, "the importance of incorporating lands and peoples west of the Appalachians into early American history is acknowledged and then ignored. As a result, though a number of scholars are producing notable works on those lands and peoples, [End Page 224] the field as a whole still minimizes the vast areas of the continent west of the Appalachians and overlooks most early Americans," the "majority" of whom, Saunt demonstrated, were "native peoples."34 The above analysis of the WMQ's and EAL's recent issues shows some change in these regards but also much opportunity for the field to turn more fully toward the neglected regions where most Native and Indigenous peoples lived, told stories, and made history.

Though early America's chronological breadth and distinct eras have been less well theorized than its geographic scope and focus, some evidence—such as the joint WMQ-Early Modern Studies Institute workshop in May 2013 entitled "Before 1607" and the Society of Early Americanists' recent vote to extend its purview to 1830—suggests we are on the cusp of a temporal turn.35 Given the importance early plays in defining the field's bailiwick, its temporal borders may necessarily be the most unmovable. That said, the field might also more consciously acknowledge that its chronological boundaries are a direct result of settler colonialism and choose beginning points and endpoints for its research when studying Native peoples that emerge from their eras, milestones, and epistemologies. Despite nascent revolutions in chronology and geography, we have yet to reckon fully with the implications of an early American field that accounts for the histories and literatures of all its peoples.

Engaging with NAIS's materials and methods prompts methodological and conceptual shifts in the geographic and temporal revolutions already occurring in early American studies. This engagement necessarily changes the scale of these revolutions and reconceptualizes their terms. It does so in relation to geography because Native and Indigenous networks are different from those of Euro-American settlers. They are continental and hemispheric as well as spiritual, tribal, coastal, migratory, ancestral, trans-Pacific, circum-Atlantic, Global Southern, and Arctic. As recent work in NAIS argues, Indigenous literature "has been globalized from its inception," and the same is true, of course, of Indigenous history, as Native peoples in different parts of the world interacted with and influenced each another. When they made contact with colonists, Native nations and individuals expanded and altered their networks, even as they also maintained older ones. In fact, long-standing frameworks of tribe, family, and clan remain vitally important today, and NAIS scholars have recently argued both for moving "through"—or starting from—such local frameworks to consider the "global dimensions [End Page 225] of Native American literature" and for adopting "trans-indigenous" approaches that place literatures and histories from different places and cultures in conversation without collapsing their differences.36

Importantly, the definitions of tribe and nation must also arise from specific Native contexts. As Francis Jennings, Pekka Hämäläinen, Ned Blackhawk, and Steven C. Hahn have shown, Haudenosaunee, Comanche, Great Basin Indian, and Creek "social formations" resemble but do not replicate European—or Mexica and Incan, for that matter—structures of empire and confederation.37 In this Forum David A. Chang's contribution models such a geographic shift by offering an early trans-Pacific analysis of a nineteenth-century Hawaiian-language letter written by Hawaiian chieftain Keali'iahonui. The letter demonstrates how leaders such as Keali'iahonui used their written language to mold colonial relationships with foreigners in ways that advanced individual and communal interests. As a result, understanding the forms of U.S. imperialism requires familiarizing ourselves with political and genealogical networks among Indigenous peoples. But Chang's goal is not to help early Americanists better understand Euro-Americans and their nascent nationalisms and imperialisms. Rather, the article's signal contribution is creating knowledge about Native Hawaii and its histories, cultures, and agencies, all of which are often thought to be irrecoverable or of secondary importance.38 In doing so, Chang's article models how NAIS reshapes early American studies by revealing the other geographies that preexisted, countered, and coevolved with those of European colonization and imperialism. As Scott Richard Lyons has suggested, centering on geographic scales relevant to Indigenous peoples allows scholars to study them "without endless recourse to American literary and cultural history."39 [End Page 226]

Reconsidering the field's temporal boundaries, including its beginning and ending points, presents similar opportunities to reshape early American studies in ways that attend to Native experiences and knowledge. To begin with, an analysis of these boundaries from a NAIS perspective recognizes that sharp divides between pre-Columbian, colonial, and national periods are inaccurate. By considering tribal nations' periodization of their own histories and evaluating carefully the applicability (or inapplicability) of the familiar temporal yardsticks of Euro-American history, early Americanists can address the limits of standard chronologies. This turn may also involve a rethinking of the field's endpoint, especially since 1830 can unduly emphasize the Indian Removal Act passed that year, thereby making removal seem the inevitable conclusion to "early" periods. Additionally, a NAIS approach to early American chronology might well lead scholars to abandon the habit of describing the "colonial" period as ending in 1776; after all, Native peoples remain under a colonial regime to the present day. And finally, this turn means developing methodologies for studying earlier "early" Americas. Phillip H. Round's piece in this Forum demonstrates that urban centers such as Cahokia, which at its height from 1050 to 1200 C.E. rivaled Europe's largest cities in terms of population, had an ongoing influence upon Native and Indigenous nations even if Europeans only encountered these cities as architectural ruins. Though colonists may have been ignorant of the cultural interdependencies and legacies of the Native centers situated along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, Native peoples were not. Early Americanists can avoid replicating such temporal misapprehensions by building upon materials and methods that help to illuminate those legacies, particularly oral histories and tribal archives. But Round does not simply propose an earlier "early" for early Americanists. Nor does he apply the discoveries of archaeology and folklorists only until there are European-language records. Instead, he looks forward as well and argues that studying ancient pasts can illuminate interconnections among the precolonial Americas, the periods on which early Americanists traditionally work, and the present. Knowledge about how Native communities narrate, use, and interpret their pasts offers models and insights for early Americanists as we contend with alternative chronologies and literary histories.40

Rethinking our field's temporal boundaries requires as well that scholars conduct research with the knowledge that our studies of the past have [End Page 227] significance not only for our disciplines but also for contemporary legal contexts and living peoples. Though our materials and subject matter might seem firmly rooted in the past and though scholars sometimes intentionally avoid engaging with contemporary issues to sidestep accusations of pres- entism, the early American period nonetheless figures centrally in matters of crucial importance to modern Native peoples, such as legal cases involving land claims, federal recognition, and the return of sensitive cultural materials and ancestral remains from museums. For example, courts in both Canada and the United States have repeatedly rejected tribal nations' land claims cases by ruling that Native peoples' oral accounts of their ongoing and unbroken connection to the land and of their cultural heritage were insufficient forms of legal evidence. Margaret M. Bruchac has noted that courts in what is now the state of Vermont privileged colonial "myths" of Indigenous disappearance over evidence of "continuous presence"; these courts explicitly argued that Abenaki narratives of presence were overturned by the "weight of history."41 Meanwhile, in 1953, courts dismissed Sauk and Fox petitions that submitted Black Hawk's 1833 autobiographical narrative as evidence for their original land claims.42 A judge ruled that Black Hawk's as-told-to text was untrustworthy because it had been created collaboratively: spoken by Black Hawk, transcribed by a French translator, and edited and published by an American publisher. As these brief examples show, scholars' practices in editing books, defining authorship, and drawing on (or refusing to include) oral narratives have sweeping implications for Indigenous sovereignty, past and present.

Turning to oral history and other sources from NAIS's alternate archives may feel uncomfortable to early Americanists who think of their research subjects as fully consigned to the past. It may be especially strange for literary scholars, who serve as expert witnesses or consultants for museums less frequently than historians do. But the possibilities for both reconfiguring the field around its ability to bring historical depth to analyses of present phenomena and establishing new, more ethically sound relations with Native communities are enormous. Recognizing the contemporary consequences of colonial texts opens up new avenues and audiences for our research while also framing the stakes of that research in new ways.43 In the United States [End Page 228] alone, more than five million Native people and more than 560 federally recognized tribal nations continue to live, survive, resist, adapt, and remember under settler colonialism.44 As early Americanists, we study colonization, an ongoing process. The materials early Americanists choose to study and cite and the methods that we deploy influence the stories we tell about early America and, by extension, the stories repeated and validated in legal contexts and popular culture. NAIS's materials and methods demonstrably advance early Americanists' substantive and ongoing efforts to address the field's temporal scope. Though we do not advocate a wholesale abandonment of existing boundaries, early Americanists can resist assigning false endpoints to their research questions and siloing primary sources and knowledge that come from outside the traditional chronological boundaries of the field.45

Engaging with NAIS requires early Americanists to be deliberate about their subjects and endpoints, and NAIS offers methods for accomplishing exactly that. One key contribution of NAIS is that it provides a model for cultivating analytic specificity and texture by emphasizing dense units of analysis even while accounting for vastness. Alejandra Dubcovsky's contribution to this Forum, for example, foregrounds an underutilized archive of Apalachee voices, memory, and culture in Spanish imperial records, one that helps elucidate Apalachee history during the devastating slaving raids from 1704 to 1706. Dubcovsky grounds her analysis in Apalachee geographies and chronologies—not the British colonial and U.S. national ones usually associated with the southeastern region of the present-day United States—as she constructs a narrative that repositions Apalachees as historical subjects in their own right. Focusing on a single Spanish letter written in 1704, she emphasizes the plurality of Apalachee voices and the persistence of their networks and epistemologies in the midst of incomplete colonial projects intended to eliminate them. By embracing NAIS methodologies that center Native peoples and take seriously their beliefs, understandings, and perspectives, Dubcovsky produces a narrative of Indian slavery that is about Apalachee individuals, rather than an undifferentiated tribal nation [End Page 229] victimized by slavery and colonial expansion.46 As she demonstrates, NAIS methods help scholars identify and analyze Native voices and agency even in more readily accessible and familiar early American objects and texts such as European-language letters, poems, travel narratives, court records, and maps. When analyzed in the light of archaeological, genealogical, linguistic, tribal, and oral knowledge, well-trodden subjects and familiar archives reveal the longue durée and specificity of Native knowledge and experience.

Without a structural transformation of early American studies, an ingrained temporal and geographic trajectory of first Indigenous, then colonial, and finally national regimes will continue to haunt much of our scholarship, even when we acknowledge and interrogate early America's vastness. But with the materials and methods of NAIS we can bring into view other kinds of borders and regions as well as an ever-broadening array of modernities, styles, narratives, languages, confederacies, sovereignties, and ecologies. Native-centered geographic borders and temporalities might overlap and connect with those of other early American populations, such as free and enslaved Africans, and it is incumbent upon all early Americanist scholars to be cognizant of such alternatives. Otherwise, we risk perpetuating and participating in settler colonialism by confining our study of early America and its Native and Indigenous peoples to European-based geographic and temporal models while ignoring the rich opportunities and insights already occurring within NAIS.47


How, then, might early Americanists engage more substantively with the field of NAIS? Considering NAIS's own institutional turn offers one model for how to continue querying early America's vastness in ways that attend to Native American and Indigenous archives, temporalities, and geographies. A decade ago NAISA began to take shape on the University of Oklahoma campus at a meeting organized by a committee of senior scholars headed by Robert Warrior. At that initial gathering, nearly three hundred participants from a wide range of disciplines, geographic locations, and institutional affiliations articulated a global outlook for the new scholarly association.48 Since then, NAISA has grown dramatically. It now features [End Page 230] very well-attended annual meetings and, as of 2014, a scholarly journal, NAIS, which received the 2015 Council of Editors of Learned Journals award for Best New Journal.

In recent years NAISA annual meetings have attracted growing numbers of early American historians and literary scholars, thus offering exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary engagements grounded in NAIS. The contributors to this Forum move between NAISA and early Americanist organizations, and several of them have participated in roundtables and plenary sessions at NAISA annual meetings or the OIEAHC-SEA joint conference during which they explored the opportunities and challenges for those working at the interstices of early American studies and NAIS. In both venues speakers addressed topics ranging from evidentiary bases, analytic frameworks, and disciplinary training to intellectual communities and demographics within the profession. Identifying potential benefits of an early Americanist turn to NAIS, scholars relying on both NAIS and early American studies raised possibilities for incorporating Indigenous intellectual frameworks into scholarship through Indigenous language sources and oral traditions and also advocated for paying increased attention to material and visual culture as a corrective to the "tyranny of documentary evidence" in Native literary and cultural histories.49 The work of NAIS scholars offers models for how to engage with questions such as: What is a colonial period? What is a national period? What is history? What is literature?50

Scholars working in NAIS have also questioned terms such as colonial by deploying the analytic framework of settler colonialism, thereby naming the ongoing process and structure by which Indigenous peoples and tribal nations are made to disappear through "extermination, expulsion, [End Page 231] incarceration containment, and assimilation … and an ultimate affirmation of settler control" over Indigenous homelands.51 These policies and practices included forced removals from homelands; pressure to convert to Christianity and adopt the conventions of nuclear, patriarchal households; and erosion of traditional landholding practices and customary laws. Jean M. O'Brien's important study of New England local histories demonstrates how narrative strategies of "firsting" and "lasting," as well as the development of "replacement narratives," reinforce settler colonial processes by defining legitimate, normative settlement and settlers in Euro-American terms, identifying the alleged "last" Native person to inhabit a town or village, and creating monuments and commemorations that allow settler histories to replace Native pasts and presences.52 The publication by David Cusick, the nineteenth-century Haudenosaunee scholar, suggests that O'Brien's study could easily be replicated in other regions, and the same patterns surface repeatedly in the U.S. history publications and classrooms that are discussed by James H. Merrell, the editors of Why You Can't Teach U.S. History without American Indians, Warrior, and Stephanie Fitzgerald and Hilary E. Wyss. The fact that Indigenous declension and vanishing remain significant features of the master narratives of American history and literature begs the question of how scholars explain the persistence of more than 560 federally acknowledged tribal nations as well as numerous tribal nations that have government-to-government relationships with various states.53 [End Page 232] This is a question of serious import for the present day, when economic development, resource extraction, and water rights (to name only a few pressing concerns) are often entangled with the interests and rights of tribal nations that are protected by treaties. Early Americanists can help address this question, which is rooted in the United States' prenational and early Republic past, by attending to the treaty agreements negotiated during that time and the varied strategies and tactics Native peoples employed to maintain their tribal nations as they confronted systematic efforts to eliminate them. Early Americanists invested in interrogating settler colonial processes, reconsidering geographic and temporal boundaries, and acknowledging descendant communities whose persistence belies familiar declension narratives can turn to NAIS materials and methods as they extend and transform their approaches to research and teaching.

In addition to generating new scholarship at the interstices of early American studies and NAIS, there is also room to cultivate new groups of scholars. Participants in a roundtable discussion about early American studies and NAIS at the 2014 NAISA annual meeting observed that there are fewer than ten Native people with doctoral degrees in history who specialize in the early American period and hold tenured or tenure-track positions in the United States; moreover, very few Native scholars are in the pipeline. Warrior addressed similar patterns for Native scholars in literary studies in a 2013 article published in Profession.54 After acknowledging that their absence is a problem, how do we explain it? Perhaps the slow pace of change described by Merrell, Warrior, and others is a powerful deterrent for aspiring Native scholars and those interested in NAIS, with standard-issue terminologies, materials, and methods potentially discouraging them from engaging early American studies. If this is so, then it seems clear that completing the turn to NAIS's materials and methods is an essential condition for creating more welcoming intellectual environments for junior Native scholars. Such a turn might also prompt reviews of course offerings and requirements and approaches to graduate advising. Graduate advisers should reflect on how they can best signal that NAIS topics are welcome in our departments, and [End Page 233] faculty need to consider whether they require additional training to support students who wish to study NAIS materials. Early Americanists can also revisit their undergraduate teaching strategies, since we know that the work we do in our classrooms through lectures, discussions, readings, and assignments sparks—or, conversely, dampens—sustained student interest in our fields.

At the same time, it is essential to acknowledge the enduring investments Native people have already made in writing and publishing studies that develop narrative histories grounded in oral traditions, critique master narratives, and challenge settler colonialism. The work that NAIS and early Americanist scholars undertake in the twenty-first century engages a long-standing intellectual tradition. In words that prefaced longer works and careers, for example, the nineteenth-century authors Cusick and Susette La Flesche noted the powerful compulsion to tell the stories of their peoples and nations and to do so in ways that intervened in and counteracted potent narratives that misrepresented, ignored, and diminished Native peoples. In 1826 or 1827, as the Erie Canal ushered in a new period of American expansion and threatened further dispossession, Cusick "endeavoured to throw some light on the history of the original population of the country" by publishing his Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations at the Tuscarora village near Lewiston in western New York. Noting that he had "taken much pains" to collect and translate oral traditions, Cusick underlined the labor and commitment required to produce one of the earliest histories written and published by an American Indian.55 More than fifty years later, La Flesche, an Omaha author and political activist, introduced Thomas Henry Tibbles's book The Ponca Chiefs by expressing her hope that "a simple narration of facts" might "arouse the [U.S.] nation from the sin of its indifference," which had "withheld from an oppressed and unfortunate race, justice and mercy." "Wrongs more terrible than those related here," she continued, "have been practised on others of my people, but they have had no writer to make them known."56 In the decade that followed, she answered her own call and wrote journalism and fiction about her people. The fact that in 1880 La Flesche took up many of the same concerns that William Apess and Cusick had articulated in the early nineteenth century points to historical and generic connections that exceed the traditional temporal boundaries of early American studies. These publications, like other [End Page 234] literary productions by Native authors writing before the twentieth century, are tangible evidence of the enduring commitment Native people have made to bring their voices and visions to the attention of wider audiences as they worked to sustain their communities in the face of accelerating settler colonial pressures.

Responding to the persistent call to develop historical narratives and literary analyses that do justice to Native peoples and communities requires substantive engagement with the methods and materials of NAIS. As this Forum demonstrates, scholars working at the intersection of early American studies and NAIS seek out new archives and venture beyond familiar collections in well-known repositories. This scholarship also requires practitioners to develop additional competencies, to familiarize themselves with the languages, beliefs, social and political structures, and artistic practices (to name a few areas) of the specific tribal nations that are the subject of their research. NAIS scholars undertake this work in much the same way that those who focus on European or Euro-American subjects build a base of essential knowledge about their ways of knowing, understanding, and interacting with the world prior to attempting analytic and interpretive work. But NAIS methodologies also mean that scholars reach outside the academy (as it is traditionally defined) to consult tribal experts and archives and to consider the impact of their work on Native communities. NAIS materials and methodologies can help us to interpret the past in ways that center Indigenous intellectual traditions, textualities, and temporalities, thereby facilitating robust analyses of tribal nations and settler colonial societies that generate new understandings of America's past and its significance in the present.


The pieces that follow here and in the companion journal emerge from precisely this intersection of NAIS and early American studies. Written by scholars who navigate early American studies and NAIS and who regularly attend both NAISA and either SEA or OIEAHC conferences, the articles broach questions of methodology, language, disciplinarity, geographic and temporal boundaries, and standards of evidence in order to model what an early Americanist engagement with NAIS's materials and methods can look like. These scholars are working in multiple disciplines and at different career stages, and they take up materials that are infrequently the subjects of early American inquiry yet, the authors show, are crucial to understanding the period: Hawaiian-language letters, a Mississippian copper plate, Odawa quillworked book covers, a Haudenosaunee tomahawk, Apalachee testimonies, plans from French colonialist archives, and maps produced in contemporary collaboration with Wabanaki experts. Just as importantly, these scholars draw on both NAIS and early American studies methods even while acknowledging how their materials foster new conceptions of periodicity, geography, literature, and [End Page 235] history. Taken as a whole, this Forum urges early Americanist scholars to deepen their engagement with the materials and methods of NAIS; welcomes the provocations of interdisciplinary associations; and invites new scholars, Native and non-Native, to join our conversations. Moreover, the arrangement of this Forum's seven essays, divided between the journals, models the interdisciplinary conversation we seek to stimulate while also pointing to the cross-disciplinary work each of these scholars has already performed in writing his or her article.

This Forum does not claim to settle methodological or material questions. Rather, it continues the tradition of discussing how scholars might complete a long-contemplated turn in our field. It calls attention to opportunities to expand the explanatory power and scope of historical narratives and literary analyses, both where early American scholarship intersects with NAIS and where it does not. Fully reckoning with the materials and methods of NAIS and making the structural changes necessary to account for such a reckoning will help end the cycle of calls for engagement and create scholarship that is transformative, enduring, and ethical. To do otherwise—to rely exclusively on methods, archives, and boundaries defined by Euro-American disciplines—risks participating in and extending colonization. We call upon early American studies to produce and publish scholarship informed by tribal communities, scholarship that welcomes and nurtures Native graduate students, expands that scholarship's archives, reorients its boundaries, redefines its terms and temporalities, and refuses to colonize its objects of study. [End Page 236]

Alyssa Mt. Pleasant

Alyssa Mt. Pleasant is an assistant professor of Transnational Studies at the University at Buffalo and program director of the Native American Scholars Initiative at the American Philosophical Society.

Caroline Wigginton

Caroline Wigginton is an assistant professor of English at the University of Mississippi.

Kelly Wisecup

Kelly Wisecup is an associate professor of English at Northwestern University.

This Forum was inspired by two sessions at the joint Society of Early Americanists–Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture conference in Chicago, June 18–21, 2015: "Roundtable: The Materials and Methods of Native Studies" and "Indigenous History: Speaking to Core Issues in Early American History." We thank the participants on those panels: Margaret M. Bruchac, David A. Chang, Michael Gaudio, Heather Miyano Kopelson, Daniel Radus, Phillip H. Round, and Coll Thrush. We also wish to thank Patricia Marroquin Norby, Hilary E. Wyss, and the anonymous readers of our introduction for Early American Literature and the William and Mary Quarterly for their feedback and contributions.


1. David Cusick, David Cusick's Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations…. (Lewiston, 1827); William Apes[s], A Son of the Forest…. (New York, 1829). For the publication history of Sketches, see Phillip H. Round, Removable Type: Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1663–1880 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2010), 150–52, 188–89. An electronic edition of Sketches is available as Paul Royster, ed., David Cusick's Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations (Tuscarora Village, 1828), Faculty Publications, UNL Libraries, For an excellent modern edition of Apess's work, see Apess, A Son of the Forest and Other Writings, ed. Barry O'Connell (Amherst, Mass., 1997).

2. James H. Merrell, "Some Thoughts on Colonial Historians and American Indians," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 46, no. 1 (January 1989): 94–119.

3. James H. Merrell, "Second Thoughts on Colonial Historians and American Indians," WMQ 69, no. 3 (July 2012): 451–512 (quotations, 454). Even more recently, the editors of the collection Why You Can't Teach United States History without American Indians have repeated Merrell's initial call to bring Native histories and texts into scholarly studies and classrooms. See Susan Sleeper-Smith et al., Why You Can't Teach United States History without American Indians (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2015). As they note, scholars working in American Indian history have been organizing conferences and initiatives to address the invisibility of Native peoples in U.S. historical and literary narratives since at least the 1980s, each time confronting the dilemma that Indian history forces students and scholars to address uncomfortable histories of "genocide, dispossession, and other colonizing practices that helped make the United States what it is today" (ibid., 2).

4. Stephanie Fitzgerald and Hilary E. Wyss, "Land and Literacy: The Textualities of Native Studies," Early American Literature 45, no. 2 (2010): 241–50, esp. 242. This article was published as part of a joint special issue, "Projecting Early American Literary Studies," and also appeared as Fitzgerald and Wyss, "Land and Literacy: The Textualities of Native Studies," American Literary History 22, no. 2 (Summer 2010): 271–79.

5. Robert Warrior, "The Role of Native American Voices in Rethinking Early American Literary Studies," review of Sovereign Selves: American Indian Autobiography and the Law, by David J. Carlson, and The Indian Chief as Tragic Hero: Native Resistance and the Literatures of America, from Moctezuma to Tecumseh, by Gordon M. Sayre, EAL 42, no. 2 (2007): 369–75 ("pivotal," 374); Lucy Maddox, Removals: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Politics of Indian Affairs (Oxford, 1991), 3 ("working definition"). For a collection of Native-produced texts that broadens what constitutes the literary, see Kristina Bross and Hilary E. Wyss, Early Native Literacies in New England: A Documentary and Critical Anthology (Amherst, Mass., 2008). For one of the first articles in EAL to urge scholars to consider Native peoples and voices in studies of American historical writings and to shift their conceptions of evidence accordingly, see Arnold Krupat, "American Histories, Native American Narratives," EAL 30, no. 2 (1995): 165–74.

6. For just two examples of the New Indian History, see Robert F. Berkhofer Jr., "The Political Context of a New Indian History," Pacific Historical Review 40, no. 3 (August 1971): 357–82; Pekka Hämäläinen, "The Futures of Native American History in the United States," Perspectives on History, December 2012, On studies of alternative literacies, see Elizabeth Hill Boone and Walter D. Mignolo, eds., Writing without Words: Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica and the Andes (Durham, N.C., 1994); Sandra M. Gustafson, Eloquence Is Power: Oratory and Performance in Early America (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2000); Hilary E. Wyss, Writing Indians: Literacy, Christianity, and Native Community in Early America (Amherst, Mass., 2000); Birgit Brander Rasmussen, Queequeg's Coffin: Indigenous Literacies and Early American Literature (Durham, N.C., 2012).

7. We use the terms Native, Native American, and Indigenous throughout this Forum to signal that NAIS scholarship extends to consider Indigenous peoples across the globe as well as in the Americas.

8. In the twenty-first century, NAIS has emphasized questions of sovereignty and of land and treaty rights and adopted a tribally specific approach that privileges the "Native intellectual, cultural, political, historical, and tribal national contexts from which Indigenous literatures [and histories] emerge"; James H. Cox and Daniel Heath Justice, "Introduction: Post-Renaissance Indigenous American Literary Studies," in The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature, ed. Cox and Justice (Oxford, 2014), 1–14 (quotation, 1). For definitions of NAIS, see also Robert Warrior, ed., The World of Indigenous North America (New York, 2015); Chris Andersen and Jean M. O'Brien, "Introduction: Indigenous Studies: An Appeal for Methodological Promiscuity," in Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies, ed. Andersen and O'Brien (London, 2017), 1–11.

9. In 1997 the University of Arizona became the first higher-education institution in the United States to offer a Ph.D. in American Indian studies. See

10. Programs for OIEAHC and SEA conferences are archived on the organizations' websites: "Past Conferences," Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture,, accessed Mar. 29, 2016; "Conferences," Society of Early Americanists,, accessed Mar. 29, 2016. Phillip H. Round and Patricia Marroquin Norby coorganized a plenary session on NAIS for the 2015 OIEAHC-SEA conference. Round (facilitator), Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, Michael Witgen, and Scott Manning Stevens, "'The European Question': Indigenous Scholars Interrogate Early American Studies" (plenary discussion at the joint OIEAHC-SEA conference, Chicago, June 18–21, 2015).

11. Programs for past NAISA meetings are archived on the association's website: "Past Programs," Native American and Indigenous Studies Association,, accessed Apr. 3, 2018.

12. Coll Thrush, Jean M. O'Brien, Christian Ayne Crouch, Daniel Heath Justice, and Ashley Riley Sousa, "Indigenizing Early Modern and Early American Studies: Part 1" (session, Annual Meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, Austin, Tex., May 29–31, 2014); Thrush, Christine DeLucia, Lisa Brooks, Colin Calloway, Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, O'Brien, and Daniel H. Usner, "Indigenizing Early Modern and Early American Studies: Part 2" (roundtable, Annual Meeting of NAISA, Austin, Tex., May 29–31, 2014).

13. We examined WMQ issues for 2010–16 (vols. 67–73). When a Forum includes an article followed by a series of brief pieces, we treat the Forum as a single unit. When a Forum includes a series of full-length articles, we count them separately.

14. For the Forum on Virginia, see James Horn et al., "Forum: Transformations of Virginia: Tobacco, Slavery, and Empire," WMQ 68, no. 3 (July 2011): 327–426. This Forum is assessed as a whole in the data. For similar assessments noting the absence of studies of Native peoples outside eastern North America and especially the Northeast, see Merrell, WMQ 46: 94–119; Claudio Saunt, "Go West: Mapping Early American Historiography," WMQ 65, no. 4 (October 2008): 745–78.

15. The upswing in the number of EAL articles per issue referencing NAIS subjects may be due in part to the publication of books that draw on NAIS to study early Native orators and writers, such as Gustafson, Eloquence Is Power (2000); Wyss, Writing Indians (2000); Lisa Brooks, The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast (Minneapolis, 2008); Bross and Wyss, Early Native Literacies in New England (2008); Round, Removable Type (2010). In the WMQ 20 percent of reviews focus on publications with NAIS methodologies. When we tallied the WMQ book reviews, Critical Forums about particular books (of which there were four in total during the period under consideration) were not included in the data.

16. Jeffrey Glover, "Going to War on the Back of a Turtle: Creation Stories and the Laws of War in John Norton's Journal," EAL 51, no. 3 (2016): 599–622; Clayton Zuba, "Apess's Eulogy on King Philip and the Politics of Native Visualcy," EAL 52, no. 3 (2017): 651–77; John DuVal and Kathleen DuVal, "Writing Translations, Writing History: Colonial American Voices and the Problem of Verticality," EAL 53, no. 1 (2018). Two articles on pre-1830 Native writers appeared in earlier journal issues: Joanna Brooks's introduction to Samson Occom's hymns in 2003 and Granville Ganter's article on Red Jacket in 2009. See Brooks, "Six Hymns by Samson Occom," EAL 38, no. 1 (2003): 67–87; Ganter, "'Make Your Minds Perfectly Easy': Sagoyewatha and the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee," EAL 44, no. 1 (2009): 121–46.

17. Early American studies has built on scholarship in other fields, especially post- colonial studies, African American studies, and women's, gender, and sexuality studies, as it has developed archival and analytic strategies to consider materials compiled to manage the lives and agency of those materials' subjects. See for example Thomas A. Foster, ed., Long Before Stonewall: Histories of Same-Sex Sexuality in Early America (New York, 2007); Ann Laura Stoler, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton, N.J., 2009); Catharine Brown, Cherokee Sister: The Collected Writings of Catharine Brown, 1818–1823, ed. Theresa Strouth Gaul (Lincoln, Neb., 2014); Marisa J. Fuentes, Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive (Philadelphia, 2016). Adjacent fields have also undertaken studies that examine how past narratives continue to bear—sometimes with extraordinary violence—on the present. See for example Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham, N.C., 2016). Such examinations of materials and methods offer useful foundations to place in conversation with the questions explored in this Forum.

18. For an example of salvage bibliography, see Daniel G. Brinton, Aboriginal American Authors and Their Productions…. (Philadelphia, 1883). On the colonial origins of early American archives, see Matt Cohen, The Networked Wilderness: Communicating in Early New England (Minneapolis, 2010), 1–28, esp. 17.

19. Lisa Brooks, "Turning the Looking Glass on King Philip's War: Locating American Literature in Native Space," American Literary History 25, no. 4 (Winter 2013): 718–50 (quotations, 729). Nancy Shoemaker provides a history of how Native and European peoples came to see themselves as different, illuminating the process whereby Native peoples were constructed as foreign in colonial texts, in Shoemaker, A Strange Likeness: Becoming Red and White in Eighteenth-Century North America (Oxford, 2004).

20. Merrell, WMQ 69: 459 ("pervasive"). For the ways that early Americanists remain "shackled to a lexicon crafted by the victors in the contest for America" and a discussion of specific examples, see ibid., 457–66 ("shackled," 458). Indeed, in reflecting on our own respective writing processes, we have observed the ways that such colonial language can perniciously creep into our sentences if we are not on guard, and we point to Merrell's observation here to note the ongoing rhetorical power of colonial language and epistemological categories and the need for NAIS methodologies to critique that language. On the colonial language of vanishing and its verification of certain narratives about the past over others, see Jean M. O'Brien, Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England (Minneapolis, 2010).

21. Christian Ayne Crouch, "Surveying the Present, Projecting the Future: Reevaluating Colonial French Plans of Kanesatake," WMQ 75, no. 2 (April 2018). On oratory, see Gustafson, Eloquence Is Power; Cohen, Networked Wilderness; Sandra M. Gustafson, "Literature," in Keywords for American Cultural Studies, ed. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler, 2d ed. (New York, 2014), 158–61. For a study that looks at material texts but does not center alphabetic writing, see Rasmussen, Queequeg's Coffin. Early Americanists' studies of orality and orature are indebted to work by Native tribal historians such as Roger C. Echo-Hawk in "Ancient History in the New World: Integrating Oral Traditions and the Archaeological Record in Deep Time," American Antiquity 65, no. 2 (April 2000): 267–90; anthropologists such as Julie Cruikshank in "Oral History, Narrative Strategies, and Native American Historiography: Perspectives from the Yukon Territory, Canada," in Clearing a Path: Theorizing the Past in Native American Studies, ed. Nancy Shoemaker (New York, 2002), 3–28; and postcolonial theorists such as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in "Notes towards a Performance Theory of Orature," Performance Research 12, no. 3 (2007): 4–7.

22. Robert Warrior, The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction (Minneapolis, 2005), xix. See also Mark Rifkin, "'But Is It Literary?' Generalist Racisms, Disciplinary Insularity, and the Limits of Too-Big-to-Fail Thinking," J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 4, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 130–35.

23. Daniel Heath Justice, "Reflections on Indigenous Literary Nationalism: On Home Grounds, Singing Hogs, and Cranky Critics," in Andersen and O'Brien, Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies, 23–30 (quotation, 26). For just a few examples of scholarship that discusses tribally specific methods, see Robert Allen Warrior, Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions (Minneapolis, 1995); Craig S. Womack, Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism (Minneapolis, 1999); Warrior, The People and the Word; Justice, Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History (Minneapolis, 2006); Christopher B. Teuton, Deep Waters: The Textual Continuum in American Indian Literature (Lincoln, Neb., 2010). For the relationship between an Indigenous nation's language, culture, and identity, see Simon J. Ortiz, "Foreword: Speaking-Writing Indigenous Literary Sovereignty," in American Indian Literary Nationalism, by Jace Weaver, Craig S. Womack, and Robert Warrior (Albuquerque, N.Mex., 2006), vii–xiv, esp. xi.

24. Scott Manning Stevens, "Tomahawk: Materiality and Depictions of the Haudenosaunee," EAL 53, no. 2 (2018).

25. Lisa Brooks, "Awikhigawôgan ta Pildowi Ôjmowôgan: Mapping a New History," WMQ 75, no. 2 (April 2018).

26. Christine M. DeLucia, "Speaking Together: The Brothertown Indian Community and New Directions in Engaged Scholarship," review of Becoming Brothertown: Native American Ethnogenesis and Endurance in the Modern World, by Craig N. Cipolla, and Red Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians and the Problem of Race in Early America, by David J. Silverman, EAL 50, no. 1 (2015): 167–87, esp. 181. For an article that draws on oral traditions along with material culture and the documentary record to illuminate new findings about "Wabanaki winter ways," see Thomas Wick-man, "'Winters Embittered with Hardships': Severe Cold, Wabanaki Power, and English Adjustments, 1690–1710," WMQ 72, no. 1 (January 2015): 57–98, esp. 63–73 (quotation, 72). For a recent example of scholarship that engages archaeological evidence, oral histories, popular discourse, and tribal nations, see James F. Brooks, Mesa of Sorrows: A History of the Awat'ovi Massacre (New York, 2016). Prescribing one avenue or method for consultation with descendant communities and tribal nations would be a mistake. The critical point is that these consultations should emerge out of relationships founded upon mutual understanding and shared goals. The shape of those relationships will necessarily differ according to context.

27. For examples, see Beth H. Piatote, "Our (Someone Else's) Father: Articulation, Dysarticulation, and Indigenous Literary Traditions," Kenyon Review 32, no. 1 (Winter 2010): 199–217; Brooks, American Literary History 25: 720, 724–25.

28. Daniel Radus, "Margaret Boyd's Quillwork History," EAL 53, no. 2 (2018).

29. Here we refer to early American studies as constituted by the WMQ and EAL. In Spanish, Portuguese, and French language departments as well as in comparative literature departments, these geographic and temporal borders have long varied.

30. Karin Wulf, "For 2016, Appreciating #VastEarlyAmerica," Uncommon Sense (blog), OIEAHC, Jan. 4, 2016, In her introduction to the hashtag and its impetuses, Wulf observes, "There has been no end of consideration in the pages of the William and Mary Quarterly and elsewhere about what Early America is, where it is, when it begins, and when it ends" (ibid.). For Wulf's and others' posts to the Twitter hashtag, see Though there is a growing consensus, there is also resistance and critique. Historian Gordon S. Wood, for example, laments that early American historical studies is at risk of "losing its way" and urges a return to a focus on U.S. origins and "coherent national narrative[s]" (Wood, "History in Context: The American Vision of Bernard Bailyn," Weekly Standard, Feb. 23, 2015,

31. Karin Wulf, "#VastEarlyAmerica and Origins Stories: WMQ 1:1," Uncommon Sense (blog), OIEAHC, Feb. 22, 2016,

32. For the anniversary issue, see EAL 50, no. 1 (2015). For a description of the scope and goals of the special issue, see "Call for Submissions: Special Issue on 'The Spanish Americas,'" For an argument in favor of hemispheric American studies, see Shelley Fisher Fishkin, "Crossroads of Cultures: The Transnational Turn in American Studies—Presidential Address to the American Studies Association, November 12, 2004," American Quarterly 57, no. 1 (March 2005): 17–57.

33. For studies that work to revise the absence of Native peoples from Atlantic studies, see Jace Weaver, The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000–1927 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2014); Coll Thrush, Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire (New Haven, Conn., 2016). See also the contributions of James Sidbury and Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra to "Forum: Ethnogenesis," WMQ 68, no. 2 (April 2011): 181–246, which seek to "put the experiences of Africans and Amerindians right at the center of Atlantic history" (Sidbury and Cañizares-Esguerra, "On the Genesis of Destruction, and Other Missing Subjects," ibid., 240–46 [quotation, 246]). For critiques of the hemispheric approach, see Claudia Sadowski-Smith and Claire F. Fox, "Theorizing the Hemisphere: Inter-Americas Work at the Intersection of American, Canadian, and Latin American Studies," Comparative American Studies 2, no. 1 (2004): 5–38; Ralph Bauer, "Early American Literature and American Literary History at the 'Hemispheric Turn,'" EAL 45, no. 2 (2010): 217–33. For examples of comparative literary and historiographical NAIS studies that do not privilege European and Euro-American geographies, see Justice, Our Fire; Mark Z. Christensen, Nahua and Maya Catholicisms: Texts and Religion in Colonial Central Mexico and Yucatan (Palo Alto, Calif., 2013); Clint Carroll, Roots of Our Renewal: Ethnobotany and Cherokee Environmental Governance (Minneapolis, 2015).

34. Saunt, WMQ 65: 767–68 ("importance," "native peoples," 767, "majority," 768). Saunt notes that the same point had been made in part more than a decade earlier in James A. Hijiya, "Why the West Is Lost," WMQ 51, no. 2 (April 1994): 276–92. Hijiya himself notes that critics of the misleadingly and "extravagantly named" field of "American colonial history" have been around for more than a century (ibid., 276).

35. For the convener's essay from the 2013 WMQ-EMSI workshop, see Karen Ordahl Kupperman, "Before 1607," WMQ 72, no. 1 (January 2015): 3–24.

36. Scott Richard Lyons, "Introduction: Globalizing the Word," in The World, the Text, and the Indian: Global Dimensions of Native American Literature, ed. Lyons (Albany, N.Y., 2017), 1–16 ("globalized," 1); Chadwick Allen, Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies (Minneapolis, 2012). As Allen argues, the trans- in his term allows literatures to be considered "together (yet) distinct" (ibid., xiii). On such networks and their adaptation to account for colonists, see David A. Chang, The World and All the Things Upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (Minneapolis, 2016).

37. "Social formations" is the framework through which Michael Witgen analyzes the Anishinaabeg. See Witgen, An Infinity of Nations: How the Native New World Shaped Early North America (Philadelphia, 2012), 26 (quotation). See also Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies from Its Beginnings to the Lancaster Treaty of 1744 (New York, 1984); Steven C. Hahn, The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670–1763 (Lincoln, Neb., 2004); Ned Blackhawk, Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West (Cambridge, Mass., 2006); Pekka Hämäläinen, The Comanche Empire (New Haven, Conn., 2008).

38. David A. Chang, "The Good Written Word of Life: The Native Hawaiian Appropriation of Textuality," WMQ 75, no. 2 (April 2018).

39. Lyons, "Introduction," 12.

40. Phillip H. Round, "Mississippian Contexts for Early American Studies," EAL 53, no. 2 (2018). For additional examples of early Americanist scholarship that resists narrow temporal boundaries, see Annette Kolodny, In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vin-land, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery (Durham, N.C., 2012); Brooks, Mesa of Sorrows; Juliana Barr, "There's No Such Thing as 'Prehis-tory': What the Longue Durée of Caddo and Pueblo History Tells Us about Colonial America," WMQ 74, no. 2 (April 2017): 203–40.

41. Margaret M. Bruchac, "Earthshapers and Placemakers: Algonkian Indian Stories and the Landscape," in Indigenous Archaeologies: Decolonizing Theory and Practice, ed. Claire Smith and H. Martin Wobst (New York, 2005), 56–80 (quotations, 68). Bruchac quotes "weight of history" from F. W. Allen, Chief Justice of the Vermont State Supreme Court, State v. Elliott, 159 Vermont 102, 616 A.2d 210 (1992).

42. See Round, Removable Type, 185.

43. For example, while Christine M. DeLucia studies processes of memory making linked to the violence of seventeenth-century colonial wars, she also attends to the contemporary significances of these narratives for Native peoples in legal decisions, laws such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), and contemporary markers of memory. See Christine DeLucia, "The Memory Frontier: Uncommon Pursuits of Past and Place in the Northeast after King Philip's War," Journal of American History 98, no. 4 (March 2012): 975–97; Christine M. DeLucia, "Locating Kickemuit: Springs, Stone Memorials, and Contested Placemaking in the Northeastern Borderlands," Early American Studies 13, no. 2 (Spring 2015): 467–502.

44. The Native American population in the United States is both young, with many school- and college-aged individuals, and growing. As a result, early Americanists can expect our research and teaching to reach increasing numbers of Native people in the years to come. See "Facts for Features: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month: November 2015," Nov. 2, 2015, U.S. Census Bureau, The U.S. Census Bureau noted that the median age of Native citizens of the United States was 31.4 in 2014, which was younger than the U.S. population as a whole (median age 37.7). By 2060 the Native population is projected to be 10.2 million.

45. See O'Brien, Firsting and Lasting; Jodi A. Byrd, The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (Minneapolis, 2011); Kolodny, In Search of First Contact.

46. Alejandra Dubcovsky, "Defying Indian Slavery: Apalachee Voices and Spanish Sources in the Eighteenth-Century Southeast," WMQ 75, no. 2 (April 2018).

47. For more on the abiding interconnection between colonization, imperialism, and research practices, as well as a discussion of methods for disentangling them, see Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (London, 1999).

48. For a reflection on the collaborative, interdisciplinary, and global roots of NAISA, see Robert Warrior, "Friday Plenary Close," 2007 meeting, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association,, accessed Apr. 3, 2018. Members of the steering committee who issued the call and developed the programs for a series of three initial conferences were Ines Hernandez-Avila (University of California, Davis), J. Kehaulani Kauanui (Wesleyan University), K. Tsianina Lomawaima (University of Arizona), Jean M. O'Brien (University of Minnesota), Robert Warrior (University of Oklahoma), and Jace Weaver (University of Georgia). During the third conference at the University of Minnesota in 2009, the first elected council of NAISA took office. For a quantitative analysis of papers presented and presenters' geographic origins from 2007 to 2013, see Claudia Salomon Tarquini, "Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Annual Meetings," American Indian Culture and Research Journal 39, no. 2 (2015): 111–25. For a discussion of the global outlook, see Chadwick Allen, "2014 NAISA Presidential Address: Centering the 'I' in NAISA," NAIS: Journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association 2, no. 1 (Spring 2015): 1–14.

49. Scott Manning Stevens's comments regarding the "tyranny of documentary evidence" are quoted in Paul Erickson (@MrSidetable), "Stevens: visual/material culture is a new area of opportunity for NAIS research, way around the 'tyranny of documentary evidence' #oisea2015," Twitter, June 19, 2015,; Rachel L. Smith (@historicgal), "Plenary: Are Native American studies hampered by 'tyranny of documentary evidence'? (Or: More #materialculture, anyone?) #oisea2015," Twitter, June 19, 2015,

50. For an example of Native scholars explicitly and collectively discussing some of these questions, see Craig S. Womack, Daniel Heath Justice, and Christopher B. Teuton, eds., Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective (Norman, Okla., 2008).

51. Lorenzo Veracini, Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview (New York, 2010), 16–17 (quotation). As the late Patrick Wolfe wrote, elimination is "an organizing principal [sic] of settler-colonial society" that is manifest in numerous institutions and initiatives intended to undermine tribal nations. Expanding on this claim, Wolfe noted that "the logic of elimination can include officially encouraged miscegenation, the breaking-down of native title into alienable individual freeholds, native citizenship, child abduction, religious conversion, resocialization in total institutions such as missions or boarding schools, and a whole range of cognate biocultural assimilations. All these strategies, including frontier homicide, are characteristic of settler colonialism." See Wolfe, "Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native," Journal of Genocide Research 8, no. 4 (December 2006): 387–409 (quotations, 388). For a brief discussion of both settler colonialism and the NAIS-history intersection, see Nancy Shoemaker, "A Typology of Colonialism," Perspectives on History, October 2015,, accessed Jan. 21, 2016. For ways to bring settler colonial studies' insights into the college and university classroom, see Mikal Brotnov Eckstrom and Margaret D. Jacobs, "Teaching American History as Settler Colonialism," in Sleeper-Smith et al., Why You Can't, 259–72.

52. O'Brien, Firsting and Lasting, 55–56 ("replacement," 55), 107 ("last").

53. Cusick, David Cusick's Sketches; Warrior, EAL 42: 369–75; Fitzgerald and Wyss, EAL 45: 241–50; Merrell, WMQ 69: 451–512; Sleeper-Smith et al., Why You Can't. The National Conference of State Legislatures regularly updates a list of federally and state-recognized tribal nations on its website: "Federal and State Recognized Tribes," National Conference of State Legislatures,, updated October 2016. For a recent anthology addressing the complexities of acknowledgement processes for tribal nations and providing a helpful introduction to some of the topic's key issues, see Amy E. Den Ouden and Jean M. O'Brien, eds., Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2013).

54. Structural challenges faced by Native scholars were an important topic of this discussion in 2014: "Indigenizing Early Modern and Early American Studies: Part 2" (roundtable, Annual Meeting of NAISA, Austin, Tex., May 29–31, 2014). The round-table's estimate regarding Native historians who hold faculty appointments was likely correct about the number of Native historians who do this work. Anecdotal evidence gathered later indicates that there are six individuals. For details regarding demographic patterns among scholars of literary studies, see Robert Warrior, "Double-Crossed (or Stabbed Twice), Again and Again (and Again): Reflections on Our Data-Driven Academic Economy," Profession, Nov. 8, 2013,

55. Cusick, David Cusick's Sketches, preface (quotations).

56. Inshtatheamba (Bright Eyes) [Susette La Flesche], introd. to The Ponca Chiefs: An Indian's Attempt to Appeal from the Tomahawk to the Courts…. , by Zylyff [Thomas Henry Tibbles] (Boston, 1880), vii–viii ("simple narration," "Wrongs more terrible," vii, "arouse," viii). La Flesche later married Tibbles. For a selection of her writings, see Karen L. Kilcup, ed., Native American Women's Writing, c. 1800–1924: An Anthology (Oxford, 2000).

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