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Seeing Like a Settler Colonial State

  • Margaret D. Jacobs

In 1998, the Canadian historian and politician Michael Ignatieff wrote: “All nations depend on forgetting: on forging myths of unity and identity that allow a society to forget its founding crimes, its hidden injuries and divisions, its unhealed wounds.” Ironically, Ignatieff's home country has belied his assertion. Canada has engaged in collective remembering of one of its hidden injuries—the Indian residential schools—through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) from 2009 to 2015. Australia, too, has reckoned since the 1990s with its own unhealed wounds—the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, or, in common parlance, the “Stolen Generations.”

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1 Ignatieff, Michael, The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience (Toronto, 1998), 166. In the nineteenth century, the French political theorist Ernest Renan made a similar point. He said, “… forgetting, I would go so far as to say historical error, is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation,” quoted in Bruyneel, Kevin, The Third Space of Sovereignty: The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.-Indigenous Relations (Minneapolis, 2007), 105.

2 Mick Dodson, interview by the author, July 21, 2014.

3 In Australia, Aboriginal activist Margaret Tucker's memoir, If Everyone Cared (Sydney, 1977), and the non-Indigenous historian Peter Read's occasional paper, Stolen Generations: The Removal of Aboriginal Children in New South Wales, 1883–1969 (Surrey Hills, New South Wales, 1981), were instrumental in bringing Aboriginal child removal to light. See also Huggins, Jackie and Huggins, Rita, Auntie Rita (Canberra, 1994). For Canada, see Johnston, Basil, Indian School Days (Norman, OK, 1989); Haig-Brown, Celia, Resistance and Renewal: Surviving Residential School (Vancouver, 1988); Miller, J. R., Shingwauk's Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools (Toronto, 1996); and Milloy, John S., A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1996 (Winnipeg, 1999).

4 For Canada, see Stasiulis, Daiva and Yuval-Davis, Nira, eds., Unsettling Settler Societies: Articulations of Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Class (London, 1995). For Australia, see Wolfe, Patrick, “Land, Labor, and Difference: Elementary Structures of Race,” American Historical Review 106, no. 3 (June 2001): 866905.

5 For an example of naysayers in Canada, see Rodney E. Clifton and Hymie Rubenstein, “Clifton & Rubenstein: Debunking the Half-Truths and Exaggerations in the Truth and Reconciliation Report,” National Post, June 4, 2015, (accessed June 20, 2017). For a critique of the Stolen Generations Inquiry and Report in Australia, see Windschuttle, Keith, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Vol. III: The Stolen Generations, 1881–2008 (Sydney, 2009).

6 For other calls to address the lack of attention to modern Indigenous histories, see Deloria, Philip J., “American Master Narratives and the Problem of Indian Citizenship in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 14, no. 1 (Jan. 2015): 312; Deloria, Philip, “Conquest Histories and Narratives of Displacement: Civil Rights, Diaspora, and Transnationalism in Ethnic and American Studies,” in Aspects of Transnational and Indigenous Cultures, eds. Huang, Hsinya and Chang, Clara Shu-Chun (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 2014), 129; O'Neill, Colleen, “Rethinking Modernity and the Discourse of Development in American Indian History, an Introduction,” in Native Pathways: American Indian Culture and Economic Development in the Twentieth Century, eds. Hosmer, Brian and O'Neill, Colleen (Boulder, CO, 2004), 124; Cothran, Boyd and Genetin-Pilawa, C. Joseph, “An Introduction to ‘Forum: Indigenous Histories of The Gilded Age and Progressive Era,’Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 14, no. 4 (Oct. 2015): 503–11; and Sleeper-Smith, Susan, Barr, Juliana, O'Brien, Jean M., Shoemaker, Nancy, and Stevens, Scott Manning, eds., Why You Can't Teach United States History Without American Indians (Chapel Hill, NC, 2015).

7 On historical memory and American Indians, see Kelman, Ari, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (Cambridge, MA, 2013); Cothran, Boyd, Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence (Chapel Hill, NC, 2014); Grua, David W., Surviving Wounded Knee: The Lakotas and the Politics of Memory (New York, 2016).

8 My focus on Indian child welfare offers just one example of how Indigenous histories both challenge and enrich our twentieth-century chronicles of American history. There are many other fruitful areas where Indigenous histories may cause us to question and amend our long-held and emerging narratives. New histories of capitalism, for example, are incomplete without attention to Indigenous histories in the twentieth century. See, for example, Harmon, Alexandra, Rich Indians: Native People and the Problem of Wealth in American History (Chapel Hill, NC, 2010); Needham, Andrew, Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest (Princeton, NJ, 2014).

9 See, for example, Nancy Shoemaker, “A Typology of Colonialism,” Perspectives (Oct. 2015): 29–30.

10 Daiva Stasiulis and Nira Yuval-Davis, “Introduction: Beyond Dichotomies—Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Class in Settler Societies,” in Stasiulis and Yuval-Davis, Unsettling Settler Societies, 1–38, here 3.

11 In contrast, because the United States relied on slaves as laborers, Wolfe argues, the American racial system sought to increase their numbers through racial ideologies such as the one-drop rule and laws making children follow the condition of their mothers. See Wolfe, “Land, Labor, and Difference.” If you are new to settler colonialism, I recommend this article by Wolfe for its rigor. For other excellent discussions of the distinct nature of settler colonialism, see Veracini, Lorenzo, Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview (Basingstoke, UK, 2010) and Tuck, Eve and Yang, K. Wayne, “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (2012): 140.

12 For some recent compelling examples of unexpected types of elimination, see Ellinghaus, Katherine, Blood Will Tell: Native Americans and Assimilation Policy (Lincoln, NE, 2017), which looks at how government administrators used bureaucratic maneuvers to eliminate Indigenous peoples; and Maxwell, Krista, “Settler-Humanitarianism: Healing the Indigenous Child-Victim,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 59, no. 4 (Oct. 2017): 9741007, which examines “liberal interventions” that “led … not to annihilation, but rather to new modes of governance that pursued the elimination of Indigenous peoples as distinct social and political entities” (976). Some scholars are concerned that settler colonialism treats all forms of elimination as equal. Indeed its focus on “elimination” has brought it in close contact with genocide studies, an equally contentious field of thought. For two books that wrestle with these questions, see Woolford, Andrew, Benvenuto, Jeff, and Hinton, Alexander Laban, eds., Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America (Durham, NC, 2014) and Moses, A. Dirk, ed., Genocide and Settler Society: Frontier Violence and Stolen Indigenous Children in Australian History (New York, 2005).

13 Ngai, Mae M., Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, NJ, 2004); Pascoe, Peggy, What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America (New York, 2009); Shah, Nayan, Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality, and the Law in the North American West (Berkeley, CA, 2011). The curious case of the federal government's “plenary power” over both Indigenous peoples and immigrants points to a productive area of inquiry. See Coutin, Susan Bibler, Richland, Justin, and Fortin, Véronique, “Routine Exceptionality: The Plenary Power Doctrine, Immigrants, and the Indigenous Under U.S. Law,” UC Irvine Law Review 4, no. 97 (2014): 97120. As legal scholars Coutin et al. write, “Both immigrant and indigenous groups occupy a space of exception vis-à-vis U.S. law: as ‘resident aliens’ and ‘dependent nations’ they are inside and outside at the same time” (99). Coutin et al. argue that “federal law regarding Indians and immigrants relies on the power that accrues to nation-states by positioning persons, places, and practices as exceptions, outside the norm, where rule can be suspended in favor of political will” (105).

14 Lytle-Hernández, Kelly, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771–1965 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2017), 12, 14.

15 Snelgrove, Corey, Dhamoon, Rita, and Corntassel, Jeff, “Unsettling Settler Colonialism: The Discourse and Politics of Settlers, and Solidarity with Indigenous Nations,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3, no. 2 (2014): 132, here 26.

16 DuBois, Ellen Carol and Dumenil, Lynn, Through Women's Eyes: An American History with Documents, 4th ed. (Boston, 2016), 422, 499, 626.

17 Foner, Eric and McGirr, Lisa, eds., American History Now: Critical Perspectives on the Past (Philadelphia, 2011), viii.

18 See James Axtell's withering article, Colonial America Without the Indians: Counterfactual Reflections,” Journal of American History 73, no. 4 (Mar. 1987): 981–96. American History Now’s chapter on slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction unfortunately ignores Indigenous peoples, though there is much new scholarship on Indigenous slavery. For examples, see Reséndez, Andrés, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America (New York, 2016); Saunt, Claudio, Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family (New York, 2006); Miles, Tiya, Ties that Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom, 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA, 2015); and several works cited in footnote 23.

19 Shear, Sarah B., “Cultural Genocide Masked as Education: U.S. History Textbooks’ Coverage of Indigenous Education Policies,” in Doing Race in Social Studies: Critical Perspectives, ed. Chandler, Prentice T. (Charlotte, NC, 2015), 13–40, here 22, 23. See also Shear, Sarah B., Knowles, Ryan T., Soden, Gregory J., and Castro, Antonio J., “Manifesting Destiny: Re/Presentations of Indigenous Peoples in K–12 U.S. History Standards,” Theory & Research in Social Education 43, no. 1 (2015): 68101; Trafzer, Clifford E. and Lorimer, Michelle, “Silencing California Indian Genocide in Social Studies Texts,” American Behavioral Scientist 58, no. 1 (2014): 6482.

20 The effort to confine Indigenous children to such institutions was a particularly egregious overreach of federal power that has no precedent in the modern United States, except perhaps the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and that was a temporary program. See for example Adams, David Wallace, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875–1928 (Lawrence, KS, 1995); Child, Brenda, Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900–1940 (Lincoln, NE, 1998); Lomawaima, K. Tsianina and McCarty, Teresa L., To Remain an Indian: Lessons in Democracy from a Century of Native American Education (New York, 2006); Jacobs, Margaret D., White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880–1940 (Lincoln, NE, 2009); Woolford, Andrew, This Benevolent Experiment: Indigenous Boarding Schools, Genocide, and Redress in Canada and the United States (Lincoln, NE, 2015).

21 On the notion that Indians exist outside modernity, see Deloria, Philip J., Indians in Unexpected Places (Lawrence, KS, 2004); O'Neill, “Rethinking Modernity.”

22 Axtell, “Colonial America Without the Indians.”

23 See, for example, White, Richard, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815 (Cambridge, UK, 1991); Brooks, James F., Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (Chapel Hill, NC, 2002); multiple works by Taylor, Alan, including American Colonies: The Settling of North America (New York, 2002); Gallay, Alan, The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670–1717 (New Haven, CT, 2003); Barr, Juliana, Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands (Chapel Hill, NC, 2007); Duval, Kathleen, The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent (Philadelphia, 2007); Brooks, Lisa, The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Native Northeast (Minneapolis, MN, 2008); Hämäläinen, Pekka, The Comanche Empire (New Haven, CT, 2008); O'Brien, Jean M., Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England (Minneapolis, MN, 2010); Hyde, Anne F., Empires, Nations, and Families: A New History of the American West, 1800–1860 (Lincoln, NE, 2011); Rushforth, Brett, Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France (Chapel Hill, NC, 2012); and multiple works by Calloway, Colin G., including New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America, 2nd ed. (Baltimore, MD, 2013).

24 See, for example, Smith, Paul Chaat and Warrior, Robert Allen, Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (New York, 1996); Hosmer and O'Neill, eds., Native Pathways; Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places; Wilkinson, Charles, Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations (New York, 2005); O'Neill, Colleen, Working the Navajo Way: Labor and Culture in the Twentieth Century (Lawrence, KS, 2005); Cobb, Daniel M., Native Activism in Cold War America: The Struggle for Sovereignty (Lawrence, KS, 2008); Weisiger, Marsha, Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country (Seattle, WA, 2009); Wenger, Tisa, We Have a Religion: The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom (Chapel Hill, NC, 2009); Rosier, Paul C., Serving Their Country: American Indian Politics and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA, 2009); Bauer, William J., We Were All Like Migrant Workers Here: Work, Community, and Memory on California's Round Valley Reservation, 1850–1941 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2009); multiple works by Fixico, Donald L., including Indian Resilience and Rebuilding: Indigenous Nations in the Modern American West (Tucson, AZ, 2013); Davis, Julie L., Survival Schools: The American Indian Movement and Community Education in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN, 2013); Needham, Power Lines; multiple works by Child, Brenda J., including My Grandfather's Knocking Sticks: Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation (St. Paul, MN, 2014); Warren, Louis S., God's Red Son: The Ghost Dance Religion and the Making of Modern America (New York, 2017); and articles by Cothran, Boyd, Genetin-Pilawa, C. Joseph, Norrgard, Chantal, Cahill, Cathleen D., Lowery, Malinda Maynor, Troutman, John W., and Deloria, Philip J. in “Forum: Indigenous Histories of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 14, no. 4 (Oct. 2015): 503579.

25 In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Boston, 2014), Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes, “The main challenge for scholars in revising US history in the context of colonialism is not lack of information, nor is it one of methodology…. Rather, the source of the problems has been the refusal or inability of US historians to comprehend the nature of their own history, US history. The fundamental problem is the absence of the colonial framework” (7).

26 Meg Jacobs (no relation) writes in American History Now, for example, that “As much as the New Deal order defined the postwar period, so, too, did the tensions between liberalism and conservatism that existed within it”: Meg Jacobs, “The Uncertain Future of American Politics, 1940 to 1973,” in American History Now, eds. Foner and McGirr, 151–74, here 168.

27 See, for example, Horton, Carol A., Race and the Making of American Liberalism (New York, 2005).

28 The Commerce Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, section 8, clause 3) mandates that Congress shall have power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes” (Bruyneel, Third Space of Sovereignty, 11). The 1787 Northwest Ordinance and the Trade and Intercourse Act of 1790 both affirmed that dealing with Indians was the province of the federal government. See Wilkins, David E. and Lomawaima, K. Tsianina, Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Law (Norman, OK, 2001), 102–3.

29 Cathleen D. Cahill makes this point about the OIA as an early welfare agency in Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869–1933 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2011), 17–8, 25–6, 30–2.

30 Wolfe, “Land, Labor, and Difference,” 882–7.

31 Jacobs, Margaret D., “Plotting Colonization and Recentering Indigenous Actors: Approaches to and Sources for Studying the History of Indigenous Education,” in Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies, ed. Andersen, Chris and O'Brien, Jean M. (New York, 2017), 266–73.

32 Here I am riffing off Scott's, James C. book, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, CT, 1999).

33 Bruyneel, Third Space of Sovereignty, especially 13, 226.

34 For the libertarian view today, see Riley, Naomi Schaefer, The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians (New York, 2016). Despite the title, which implies empathy toward American Indians, the book primarily espouses the privatization of Indian communal assets. For a critique of the book, see Matthew Fletcher's blog, Turtle Talk, (accessed June 23, 2017).

35 Phillips-Fein, Kim, “Our Political Narratives,” Modern American History 1, no.1 (Spring 2018): 83–6, here 85. See also Cowie, Jefferson and Salvatore, Nick, “The Long Exception: Rethinking the Place of the New Deal in American History,” International Labor and Working-Class History, no. 74 (Fall 2008), 332; Lassiter, Matthew D., “Political History Beyond the Red-Blue Divide,” Journal of American History 98, no. 3 (Dec. 2011), 760–4; Hinton, Elizabeth, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge, MA, 2016).

36 There is a vast literature on liberalism and race. See, for example, Horton, Race and the Making of American Liberalism; Fergus, Devin, Liberalism, Black Power, and the Making of American Politics, 1965–1980 (Athens, GA, 2009). Nearly all this literature conflates questions of race with African Americans. For example, see Cochran, David Carroll, The Color of Freedom: Race and Contemporary American Liberalism (Albany, NY, 1999). Cochran writes that the United States' “deepest and most persistent public problem has always centered on its history of either obliterating or subverting the freedom of black Americans and on their efforts to overcome this history” (1).

37 Some of the material in this section has been published in Jacobs, Margaret D., “Remembering the ‘Forgotten Child’: The American Indian Child Welfare Crisis of the 1960s and 1970s,” American Indian Quarterly 37, nos. 1–2 (Winter/Spring 2013): 136–59; Jacobs, Margaret D., A Generation Removed: The Fostering and Adoption of Indigenous Children in the Postwar World (Lincoln, NE, 2014).

38 Harold Fey, “Indian Winter,” Christian Century, Mar. 2, 1955, 265–7, here 265. For more on the intersections between religion and liberalism, see Cook, Anthony E., The Least of These: Race, Law, and Religion in American Culture (New York, 1997).

39 Quoted in Horton, Race and the Making of American Liberalism, 125.

40 Articles on the “plight of the Navajos,” for example, filled American newspapers and magazines in the late 1940s. See Rosier, Serving Their Country, 123–30; and Weston, Mary Ann, Native Americans in the News: Images of Indians in the Twentieth Century Press (Westport, CT, 1996), 105. See Deloria, Vine Jr., Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (New York, 1969). Deloria wrote in 1969, “Other groups have difficulties, predicaments, quandaries, problems, or troubles. Traditionally we Indians have had a ‘plight’” (1).

41 MacGregor, Gordon, Warriors Without Weapons: A Study of the Society and Personality Development of the Pine Ridge Sioux (Chicago, 1946), 121.

42 MacGregor, Warriors Without Weapons, 57, 118–9.

43 See Deloria, Ella Cara, Waterlily (Lincoln, NE, 1988). Only eighteen years after Deloria's death did the University of Nebraska Press publish her 1948 historical novel, Waterlily, which emphasized the longstanding importance of women within Lakota/Nakota/Dakota cultures as well as the high value placed on kinship and extended families.

44 Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” Mar. 1965, (accessed June 21, 2017).

45 Pascoe, What Comes Naturally, 313. See also Cochran, Color of Freedom, 2, 3, 8, 17–21, 32, 62; Cook, Least of These, 226–230.

46 U.S. Congress, Senate, Select Committee on Indian Affairs, “Appendix G: Indian Child Welfare Statistical Survey, July 1976, Association of American Indian Affairs,” Indian Child Welfare Act of 1977, 95th Cong. 1st sess., Aug. 4, 1977 (Washington, DC, 1977), 538.

47 Lyndon B. Johnson later used the same term to describe Indigenous people in general in a well-known speech to Congress in 1968. See Lyndon B. Johnson, “Special Message to Congress on the Problems of the American Indian: ‘The Forgotten American,’” American Presidency Project, Mar. 6, 1968, (accessed Apr. 27, 2012).

48 “Indian Adoption Project,” Apr. 1960, 3, folder 3, box 17, Child Welfare League of American (CWLA) papers, Social Welfare History Archives, Special Collections, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis, MN [hereafter CWLA papers].

49 Joseph Reid, CWLA, to Philleo Nash, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, May 7, 1963, and quarterly report on IAP, folder 4, box 17, CWLA papers.

50 Lyslo, Arnold, “The Indian Adoption Project: An Appeal to Catholic Agencies to Participate,” Catholic Charities Review 48, no. 5 (May 1964): 12–6, here 13.

51 See Harold Fey, “Our National Indian Policy,” Christian Century, Mar. 30, 1955, 395–7. Some liberals, including Fey, who worked closely with the Flathead activist D'arcy McNickle, advocated more adequate economic development and better safeguarding of natural resources on Indian reservations, but his was increasingly a minority viewpoint even among liberal Christians who became more likely to support aggressive assimilation campaigns.

52 For social work protocols of the time, see “Child Welfare League of America Standards for Child Protective Service” (New York: CWLA, 1960), 12, folder 5, box 14, CWLA papers.

53 Quoted in David Jordan, “Indians Battle to Keep Foster Children on Reservation,” Minneapolis Tribune, July 28, 1968, clipping, folder 2, box 390, Association on American Indian Affairs Records, 1851–2010, Public Policy Papers, Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Princeton University Library, Princeton, NJ.

54 Roberts, Dorothy, Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (New York, 2002). African American disproportionality in foster care decreased from 2.5 to 1.7 nationally between 2000 and 2014, while “American Indian disproportionality has increased over the last fourteen years from 1.5 to 2.7,” and Indigenous children are the most over-represented ethnic group in out-of-home care. See Alicia Summers, Disproportionality Rates for Children of Color in Foster Care (FY 2014), Technical Assistance Bulletin (Reno, NV, 2016), 3, (accessed July 25, 2017).

55 Indigenous children face higher rates of confinement in the juvenile justice system than any other group in American society. Indigenous girls are particularly over-represented in juvenile detention facilities at a rate nearly five times that of white girls. Indigenous adult men are incarcerated at a rate four times that of white men and Indigenous women six times that of white women: statistics from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in Derrick Broze, “Native Girls have Highest Rates of Incarceration,” Activist Post, Mar. 22, 2016, (accessed June 16, 2017). See also Jake Flanagin, “Native Americans Are the Unseen Victims of a Broken US Justice System,” Quartz, Apr. 22, 2015, (accessed June 16, 2017).

56 Landertinger, Laura C. L., “Settler Colonialism and Carceral Control of Indigenous Mothers and Their Children: Child Welfare and the Prison System,” in Criminalized Mothers, Criminalizing Motherhood, ed. Minaker, Joanne and Hogeveen, Bryan (Bradford, ON, Canada, 2015), 5987, here 73–4.

57 Arissa H. Oh, To Save the Children of Korea: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption (Stanford, CA, 2015), especially 2, 5, 104–11; Briggs, Laura, Somebody's Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption (Durham, NC, 2012).

58 Other recent scholarship suggests how attention to Indigenous histories may alter the stories we tell about twentieth-century American diplomacy and military history. See, for example, Rosier, Serving Their Country, and Rosier, Paul C., “Crossing New Boundaries: American Indians and Twentieth Century U.S. Foreign Policy,” Diplomatic History 39, no. 5 (Nov. 2015): 955–66; Harmon, Alexandra, “American Indians, American Law, and Modern American Foreign Relations,” Diplomatic History 39, no. 5 (Nov. 2015): 943–54.

59 Witt, Shirley Hill, “Nationalistic Trends among American Indians,” Midcontinent American Studies Journal 6, no. 2 (Fall 1965): 5174, here 51.

60 Jacobs, A Generation Removed, 69–161. For more on self-determination movements, see Wilkinson, Blood Struggle; Smith and Warrior, Like a Hurricane; Cobb, Native Activism.

61 Many scholars have made similar points. See Byrd, Jodi A., “Introduction” to “Forum: Indigeneity's Difference: Methodology and the Structures of Sovereignty,” J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 2, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 131–6; Kauanui, J. Kēhaulani, “Colonialism in Equality: Hawaiian Sovereignty and the Question of U.S. Civil Rights,” South Atlantic Quarterly 107, no. 4 (Fall 2008): 635–50, here 636; Hoxie, Frederick E., “Sovereignty's Challenge to Native American (and United States) History,” J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 2, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 137–42; Harmon, “American Indians, American Law, and Modern American Foreign Relations,” 945–8; Deloria, “American Master Narratives,” 6–7.

62 Helton, Taiawagi and Robertson, Lindsay G., “The Foundations of Federal Indian Law and Its Application in the Twentieth Century,” in Beyond Red Power: American Indian Politics and Activism Since 1900, ed. Cobb, Daniel M. and Fowler, Loretta (Santa Fe, NM, 2007), 3355, here 35. Wilkins and Lomawaima write in Uneven Ground, “American Indian people are not merely another ‘minority,’ defined as an ethnic group or an economic class, because tribes possess a nation-to-nation political relationship with the federal government. That unique political relationship is founded on the principle of tribal sovereignty, on the facts of treaty negotiation and ratification, and on the contractual and voluntary federal assumption of a trust responsibility and relationship to tribes” (250).

63 For one of the earliest books to do so, see Morgan, Edmund S., American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York, 1975).

64 I explore this in depth in A Generation Removed, 165–272.

The author would like to thank the Cambridge American History Seminar, particularly Sarah Pearsall, Nick Guyatt, Gary Gerstle, Seth Archer, and Andrew Preston, for their feedback on the presentation upon which this essay is based. Thanks, too, to Kelly Lytle-Hernández for her close reading of and helpful comments on an earlier draft of this essay. It is not possible to cite all of the historical scholarship on Indigenous peoples in this essay. My apologies to those whom I have omitted due to space limitations. I use the term Indigenous instead of American Indian or Native American because it includes Alaska Native and Native Hawaiians and signifies the global context for the experience of North America's first peoples.

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