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Vol. 25, No. 3: Left / Right

Unsettling Histories of the South

by Angela Hudson

Native people and topics appear infrequently in much conventional southern history—even that which takes race and ethnicity as its primary lens. When they do appear, they often do so spectrally, are set apart from other subjects, and are presumed to have played only minor roles in the development of the field’s big-ticket topics: slavery, the Civil War, and civil rights.

Despite considerable scholarship on indigenous peoples of the US South, as Andrew K. Frank and Kristofer Ray noted in a 2017 retrospective for the journal Native South, “If survey texts and university syllabi are guides, the contours of southern historiography have largely remained static.”1

Colonization and dispossession—sometimes referred to as “settler colonialism”—continue to influence the South and those who study it. As Gina Caison points out, “Much of the best new work on the U.S. South never quite reaches a sustained investigation of how the region emerges from the logics and logistics” of the settler-colonial apparatus. Paradoxes and potentially unresolvable tensions inhabit southern histories. Social movements that have pushed for inclusion, equality, and full citizenship, and are rightly celebrated in histories of the South, have often evaded or ignored the issue of Native land and sovereignty.2

Native people and topics appear infrequently in much conventional southern history—even that which takes race and ethnicity as its primary lens.

Unsettling the histories we narrate cannot restore lost lives, lands, or labor, but it can reestablish historical complexity, even if that means confronting actions that confound notions of power and privilege. Some Native people owned African-descended slaves and bore racial ideologies not unlike those held by the white southerners who forced them from their home-lands. Black southerners were not immune to stereotypes of Indians and could and did use them to their advantage when they had the chance. The very discomfiting feeling that such tensions evoke can itself be a way of interpreting the South and its complex pasts. In other words, I am not just advocating for a new southern history full of forgotten characters. I am asking that we embrace the uncertainties, complexities, and contradictions that their stories bring forth. The tendency to think of the region’s diversity as a new development, to cling to romantic visions of a past that never was, and to speak as if we all mean the same thing when we say “the South” obscures the multiplicity of worlds embedded in the region and silences many of its people, in the past and in the present.

Tea at High Noon, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 36, 1999.

More than fifty years ago, historian C. Vann Woodward asserted that the South was weighed down by the monuments of its regional distinctiveness. He highlighted the ironies of southern history and offered a “wake-up call for the self-satisfied and historically unconscious Americans of all regions.” But the weight of southern history was measured only in black and white—“the one-horse farmer, one-crop agriculture, one-party politics, the sharecropper, the poll tax, the white primary, the Jim Crow car, the lynching bee.” These were the legacies, according to Woodward, that all southerners and all Americans shared. Nothing in this formulation hinted at the presence and influence of indigenous peoples—effectively erasing uncounted humans who inhabited the region for millennia before European colonization and who have helped shape its distinctive contours ever since. Among the generations of southernists that succeeded Woodward in the field, comparatively few have shouldered the South’s other weighty burden that effectively enabled all the others: the colonization of American Indian homelands.3

Notwithstanding half a century of important scholarly work on the indigenous histories of the South—and nearly twenty years of what may rightly be called a “florescence”—the predominant themes in southern studies are still those that presume black/white binaries and are often presented episodically, with an emphasis on the recent past. Even as the field of southern history was broadened to include study of African-descended people among its central subjects—a development that historian Nell Irvin Painter justifiably lauded as “breaching . . . the conceptual color bar”—there still remains a conspicuous lack of attention to the lives and influence of American Indians in the South.4

In their manifesto for the inaugural issue of the journal Native South, editors James Taylor Carson, Robbie Ethridge, and Greg O’Brien challenged this persistent distortion. They pointed out that “every general topic of importance to scholars of the South—race, slavery, gender, culture, economics, politics, international relations, even the Civil War” has or had “an Indian component,” with Native peoples often “being the determinative force.” Yet, as historian Daniel H. Usner Jr. asserted, “Changes and continuities that went into the making (and perhaps unmaking)” of the South “have been long obfuscated by an obsession with that passing phase . . . known as the antebellum period.” And, as literary critic Thomas M. Allen put it, “Surely the South is more complex” and surely “the suppression of that Southern complexity tells us something important.” Reducing southern histories into neatly contained periods of white supremacy and black resistance obscures the deep and broad historical relationship between race-based slavery and the colonization of indigenous lands, among many other topics, and it functions as part of a broader national fiction, masking the complicity of southerners in the crimes of colonialism and distancing non-southerners from the crimes of slavery—both of which continue to unfold in contests over Confederate monuments.5

Reducing southern histories into neatly contained periods of white supremacy and black resistance obscures the deep and broad historical relationship between race-based slavery and the colonization of indigenous lands.

There wouldn’t be a Civil War legacy to argue over, a Charlottesville protest to join, or a “Silent Sam” statue to topple without the dispossession and silencing of Algonquian, Siouan, Iroquoian, and Muskogean-speaking peoples. As Malinda Maynor Lowery noted in a 2018 New York Times op-ed, no one invited indigenous Virginians to participate in the Charlottesville protests and the Silent Sam demonstrations at the University of North Carolina largely presumed a black/white binary as well, effectively excluding those she calls “the original Southerners.”6

Outpost, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36.

And even when memorials acknowledge the South’s Native history, they frequently do so by noting the former residence of indigenous peoples, becoming what Andrew Denson has called “monuments to absence.” These evasive tendencies perpetuate the silencing of indigenous voices past and present, inside and outside the South, suggesting that three generations after Woodward’s influential work, many scholars and activists are still “self-satisfied and historically unconscious” when it comes to Native peoples. And these patterns have real stakes. Efforts by southern Indian nations to assert and maintain their sovereignty in the modern era have met with continuous assaults, not only from federal and state policies but also from a persistent willingness among many non-Native southerners to romanticize Indians of the past while ignoring those of the present.7

In order to remedy what anthropologist Charles M. Hudson referred to as a collective “amnesia” about the role of indigenous societies in shaping the South, some scholars have suggested that we begin much further back in time and expand farther out in geographic space. For example, we might consider the “mound-builders” of Cahokia, where the medieval warm period and subsequent expansion of maize cultivation enabled the rapid emergence of a massive and complex indigenous society around 1050 CE. The remnants of Cahokia’s urban sprawl pepper the landscape along the middle Mississippi River valley, concentrated at present-day East St. Louis, Illinois. At its height, the Mississippian metropolis was larger than its contemporary, medieval London, and it was continuously inhabited for eight hundred years. For the general public, contemporaneous developments, like the rise of Mongol imperialist Genghis Khan on the Asian steppe or the emergence of a massive new spiritual and architectural complex at Angkor Wat, might be far more familiar. Indeed, the impressive earthen mounds of Cahokia and other Mississippian centers are far less likely to form a ready picture in our mind’s eye than do the monumental stone structures of the ancient Mayans or Egyptians, although the central mound at Cahokia was larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza. Even the more conventionally southern (in terms of geography) histories of Moundville, Ocmulgee, and Etowah rarely feature as prominently as they should in visions of the southern past, particularly given their impact on the cultural, social, and environmental history of the South.8

Embracing these societies as an essential part of southern history may confound the question “Where is the South?” but also asks provocatively, “When is the South?” Borrowing from anthropologist Guillermo Bonfil Batalla’s concept of “México Profundo,” some scholars have called for a “Southern Profundo,” taking us deeper in space and time than the vision of the South sketched by Woodward. This is not to argue that we begin all our stories at the dawn of humanity or that all historians must also train as archeologists, but it is a call for challenging conventional periodization, pursuing cross-disciplinary scholarship, and confronting implicit or explicit dismissals of Native histories. Indeed, recent work in “deep history” suggests that incorporating indigenous knowledges and peoples into academic narratives requires not a repudiation of temporality, but an earnest reckoning with “an incommensurable past” and dispensing with the assumption that history “ran out of room.” This process is textual as well as historical. Eric Gary Anderson argues that the Mississippian mounds themselves are part of a vast and diverse tradition of Native expression that predates but should inform our more familiar categories. That the earthworks of Cahokia and many other indigenous urban centers were razed for backfill in the decades between the Civil War and World War II—the earth itself commandeered to create a New South—appears as a particularly ironic form of reconstruction.9

Embracing [indigenous] societies as an essential part of southern history may confound the question “Where is the South?” but also asks provocatively, “When is the South?”

Mississippian societies from present-day Missouri to Georgia were not part of a “pre-contact” world, as typical narratives suggest. Instead, in these agricultural communities, some four hundred years before Columbus, history was unfolding: homelands were being defined and transformed and indigenous peoples were contacting one another in massive networks of trade, exchange, and communication. Admittedly, reorienting the narrative in this way can be, well, disorienting. But despite John Hope Franklin’s claim that “Native Americans played only a limited role” in the South, if we stand in Cahokia (or Shiloh or Poverty Point or Spiro), we find familiar themes from southern history: inequality, violence, voluntary and involuntary migration, religious upheavals, and intensive labor on the land. When Europeans and Africans arrived, they met the populous descendants of these earlier societies and everywhere they looked saw evidence of their history.10

If we carry this approach forward in time to the seventeenth century, we can further illuminate familiar topics like slavery without lapsing into an oversimplified vision of a biracial South, in which Native people make brief but uninfluential appearances. For example, Christina Snyder rightly observes that “Indians were among the first slaves owned by Virginia and Carolina planters, and, a century later, Native slaveholders brought the plantation economy and black slavery to the interior South.” Indeed, the trade in indigenous slaves from the Americas formed the foundation of the Carolina economy for the first thirty years of its existence. As captors and captives, Native southerners exerted an important but often underestimated power within the Atlantic world, driving demand for goods, starting and stopping imperial wars, and ultimately motivating European slavers to increase their investments in the enslavement of Africans. And yet the long history of captivity and bondage in the Americas is usually one told without reference to American Indians.11

The relationship between antebellum slavery, Indian removal, and the popular representation of Native peoples also provides ample evidence of the importance of centering indigenous peoples within histories of the South and the nation. When I set out to write my last book, I had to reckon with southerners as Indians, Indians as southerners, and both Indians and southerners as Americans, a reckoning that necessarily troubled all those categories. I traced the history of a formerly enslaved Mississippian man and his white wife, both of whom claimed Indian ancestry and became minor celebrities in the antebellum era. The man, born Warner McCary, ultimately reinvented himself as the long-lost son of Choctaw chief Mushulatubbee, rejecting assertions that he was the child of an enslaved woman of African descent and her white owner. Using the name Okah Tubbee, he described an “imperfect recollection” of his Indian father, “a very large man, with dark red skin,” whose “head was adorned with feathers of a most beautiful plumage.” Faced with the apparent reality of an enslaved (and allegedly abusive) mother and an absent father who never acknowledged him, McCary crafted an alternative genealogy that made him the son of a noble Indian father, who, he may not have realized, owned more African-descended slaves than nearly anyone in antebellum Mississippi.12

Despite the emancipatory potential that Tubbee’s “Indianness” provided, he relied on images popular in the national imaginary. He and his wife capitalized on beliefs about what Indians were like, effectively reinscribing many stereotypes of Native people. For instance, they wore elaborate but inaccurate costumes, mobilized vague but popular notions of Indian spirituality, and profited from sales of spurious Indian medicines. This strategy was not without its complications. While their actions subverted some discourses of race and gender, allowing him to transcend the stigma of blackness and her to access influence not often available to women, they emphatically endorsed others. Their representation of themselves as Indians relied heavily on popular cultural tropes and stereotypes of Indians, limiting the subversive potential of their actions. As cultural studies scholar George Lipsitz maintains, “Images in negotiation with power are often ambiguous, complicated, and implicated in the crimes they seek to address.”13

Images in negotiation with power are often ambiguous, complicated, and implicated in the crimes they seek to address.

Interestingly, the story of Tubbee’s childhood bears a striking resemblance to the plot of a short story written by William Gilmore Simms and provides us with a parallel vision of the multicultural antebellum South. Published in his 1845 collection The Wigwam and the Cabin, Simms’s “Oakatibbe, or the Choctaw Sampson,” begins with a conversation between two white men as they watch laborers pick cotton. True to the history of the region but largely absent from conventional historiography, the cotton pickers included not only workers of African descent, but Choctaws and people of mixed ancestry as well. As the men stood discussing the “Indian character,” they wondered aloud whether a young Indian boy could be taken from his tribe and raised among a different people and whether he would come to know of his true birth or pass unknowingly into the other culture. The similarity between this tale and Okah Tubbee’s autobiography is striking indeed and useful.14

Between the Atlantic and Pacific, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40.

Simms, the most prolific southern writer of the nineteenth century, was also one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Indians. This does not mean he had an accurate understanding of indigenous peoples, cultures, or lifeways, but that he was learned in and contributed to the ethnographic literature on Indians of his era. During his career, he wrote more than one hundred literary pieces about Native peoples, including poems, stories, essays, and novels. His writings have subsequently fallen out of favor, largely because of his proslavery rhetoric and, indeed, Simms was a vehement proponent of white supremacy. But the marginalization of his work contributes to an erasure of the Native South in our studies of southern writers and mirrors the amnesia about indigenous southerners more broadly.15

Perhaps part of what has pushed Simms’s writing to the scholarly sidelines is that many of his topics were derived from a multiethnic South elided in biracial approaches. The things that made the story of “Oakatibbe” compelling and believable to antebellum readers, like the presence of Choctaws as agricultural laborers or the plausibility of intercultural domestic arrangements, are missing from our modern visions of “the South.” The resulting distortion further delimits southern histories culturally and temporally. As one scholar remarked: “In the wake of the Civil War, it was as if the South had hardly known an eighteenth century, much less a seventeenth or sixteenth century.” The loss of the longue durée and fantasies of Indian disappearance combined to effectively relegate Native peoples to a distant (read: past and/or western) corner of American history. Indeed, as Joel W. Martin asserts, “During the late nineteenth century, Indians became ‘westernized,’ even in the South [and] the ultimate result of this would be that southerners visiting Cherokee, North Carolina, would not believe they were seeing a ‘real’ Indian unless he was wearing a warbonnet.”16

Thus, we come to Indian removal. As theorist Patrick Wolfe helpfully outlined, although it is often thought of as a tragic but isolated event, removal is better understood as a structure of elimination central to colonization. Indian dispossession and displacement were foundational to federal Indian policy and closely tied to the growth of chattel slavery, all of which had extraordinary regional, national, and hemispheric significance. As Martin put it, the “South, devoted to slavery at all costs, was expanded, empowered, and consolidated by Indian Removal.” It also had a significant impact on representations of Indianness, inside and outside the South. Cherokee scholar Rayna Green argues that the phenomenon of “playing Indian,” and related forms of cultural appropriation, depends on the disappearance or even death of Native people. Once Indians are physically erased from the scene or even literally dead, non-Indians can adopt their names, don their costumes, and perform their customs. For instance, although Okah Tubbee’s performance of an Indian persona was shaped by the influence of living Native people like Mushulatubbee, the success of his Indian “show” actually relied on their absence.17

Appropriating a Native identity was actually a very southern thing for him to do. It presaged a popular form of indigenous erasure in the South today: claiming an Indian ancestor. Although considerable intermixing occurred between historic Native and non-Native peoples, far more modern southerners claim an Indian forebear than historical evidence can support. As sociologist John Shelton Reed has observed, based on polling data from the 1990s, many southerners—black and white—“have long viewed with unconcern or even with pride” the history of “race-mixing” between their ancestors and Native Americans, though “perhaps preferably in the remote past.” Indeed, “an astonishing number of southerners” proclaim that they are part-Indian. The network of family stories that sustain these assertions is important to individual and collective identities, but they also tell us something about the place of Indians in the southern imagination. In his important corrective to Reed’s statistical analysis, Larry J. Griffin concludes that “it is cooler to have Indian ancestry than to be Indian.” While such claims are often rooted in what Martin calls “fantasies” of the past, they have often undermined the sovereignty of Native peoples in the present.18

Although considerable intermixing occurred between historic Native and non-Native peoples, far more modern southerners claim an Indian forebear than historical evidence can support.

As Anderson reminds us, however, we should also be attentive to “Native southern people” representing their own “southernness.” For example, when Okah Tubbee was “outed” as an imposter late in his career, the Choctaw Intelligencer, national organ of the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory, was one of the papers that carried the news. Titled “How Free Negroes Succeed at the North,” the story contended that Okah Tubbee, the “mulatto fifer,” had reinvented himself as a Choctaw Indian and fooled gullible audiences across the northern states. “By this means,” the Intelligencer concluded, “he has successfully imposed upon the credulity of the Northern people.” Writing as southerners, many of whom would soon be Confederates, the Choctaws asserted that northern whites who believed Tubbee’s claims were dangerously color-blind. The editorialists implied that they would not have made the same mistake in the South—by which they meant to refer to Indian Territory. Removal may have displaced Indian southerners from the South, but it did not prevent many of them from nevertheless articulating their own “southernness,” understood through anti-black racism.19

1999 Vision, acrylic on canvas, 29 x 36, 1999.

Adopting racial ideologies that denigrated blackness was also part of a calculated strategy among some southern Native nations to preserve their sovereignty. In his microhistory of a Creek Indian family, Claudio Saunt argues that such an approach was “part cynical ploy, clever subterfuge, and painful compromise.” The risks and rewards of such tactics were particularly evident in the Jim Crow era as indigenous peoples fought to maintain a third space within a biracial South and a white supremacist nation. As Lowery states, “The relationship between Jim Crow and federal Indian policy may seem unexpected, but only if one expects that Indians belonged outside the framework of southern race relations.” Articulating Native distinctiveness often meant disarticulating themselves from blackness, sometimes repudiating family members in the process and producing bitter divides with high stakes.20

These realities complicate conventional visions of the South. Acknowledging the histories of Native southerners requires not only an understanding of the relationship between slavery and colonization, but also demands a relinquishment of romantic notions about villains and victims in favor of something much less satisfying, but much more accurate. Holding these ideas in permanent tension is, in my estimation, the best way to responsibly do histories of the South. The impulse to resolve them, to reconcile them, may in fact arise from the structures of power that brought such disparities and divides into being. These stories are unsettling and they are messy, but we should resist the urge to tidy up.

In response to such calls for revising and re-envisioning southern history, some southernists have complained that Native voices and traces are simply “not in the sources.” But those of us who have used some of those same sources beg to differ. As legendary Native South scholar Theda Perdue observed, “the scholarship is there” and if southern historians decide not to engage it, “they do so at their own peril.” Fully accounting for indigenous peoples’ histories would require southern studies scholars to not just add Indians to the mix but instead to reconceive of their narratives, stretching their limits in time, space, and category. If we acknowledge that we are all on Native ground, however, no other conclusion makes sense.21

‘The scholarship is there’ and if southern historians decide not to engage it, ‘they do so at their own peril.’

Integrating or centering indigenous stories in southern history does not mean displacing the very hard-won and important place of African American stories. Nor does it foreclose the experiences of Asian, Jewish, Latinx, or other southerners. The experiences of Central American immigrants to the South, for example, provide an opportunity to grapple with indigenous displacement as constitutive of southern history, since so many of these sojourners making the South their home are, in fact, also of indigenous ancestry. Neither should we dismiss or diminish the importance of the Civil War and Emancipation, which remain essential to understanding the region and its diverse peoples. Rather, I am urging an open acknowledgement that these stories were always deeply entangled with one another and should remain so in our analyses of them. In part, the institutional separation of subfields and the fetishization of some topics over others are to blame. As a result, it is often difficult to hold conflicting perspectives in mind simultaneously.22

These stories are unsettling and they are messy, but we should resist the urge to tidy up.

Take, for example, the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the foremost public intellectuals in the United States. In 2014, Coates, who grew up in a Baltimore neighborhood named for the Anishinaabe corn deity, published a provocative essay titled “The Case for Reparations.” He outlined the ways that race-based bondage, Jim Crow laws, separate-but-equal policies, and racist housing practices created and perpetuated structural inequalities for black Americans in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the legacies of slavery. He then asked readers to “imagine a new country” in which we engage in “a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal.” Among the essay’s epigraphs is this anonymous 1861 quote, ostensibly from an enslaved or formerly enslaved person: “By our unpaid labor and suffering, we have earned the right to the soil, many times over and over, and now we are determined to have it.”23

While many reactions to Coates’s piece were predictably shrill denials of the practicality of reparations, what struck me was his silence on the legacies of colonialism. How was it that Coates could refer briskly to a nation founded on twin pillars of “black plunder” and “white democracy” without recognizing that these phenomena were enabled by and depended on the dispossession of North America’s Native peoples and their continuing erasure in public discourse?

Coates’s epigraph, his call for reparations, and the often-exclusionary efforts to reckon with the legacies of slavery demonstrate the importance of unsettling histories of the American South, with implications far beyond a particular region or nation-state. In Shona N. Jackson’s study of colonialism in the Caribbean, the settlers in question are of European descent, but also African and South Asian arrivants—a term used to refer to migrants in various states of un-freedom who also participated in the enterprise of colonialism. The latter two groups, in liberating Guyana from British rule and forging a new nation, subsequently articulated a mode of belonging that hinged on their labor in transforming (or, in American parlance, “improving”) the land. This process effectively recolonized the region’s indigenous peoples, in both rhetoric and reality. Jackson argues convincingly that “Creole material and metaphysical belonging (indigeneity) to the New World evolved through . . . the real and figurative displacement of Indigenous Peoples.” This model of belonging or indigenization through labor is strikingly reminiscent of both Coates’s epigraph and his analysis, in which the stolen labor of African-descended people earns them the right to claim indigenous lands, coded as full and equal citizenship within the modern nation-state. Though they may take place far afield from familiar southern landscapes, analyses of other colonial contexts, like Jackson’s, can and should be part of our conversations about what is unique about the South—and what is not—and why indigeneity matters.24

Centering the concerns of Native peoples can help us reorient ourselves to histories of the South, the nation, and the hemisphere in ways that challenge our familiar narratives and also help us to see these places in relationship to one another. Colonialism and slavery were not unique to the region we know as the South, although they evolved in distinct ways as a result of the Natives and newcomers who have inhabited it. Thinking hemispherically can illuminate connections heretofore obscured by our narrowly defined areas of specialty. Jackson’s work on “Creole Indigeneity,” for example, could be helpful in analyzing relationships between indigenous southerners in Indian Territory and the Exodusters who arrived with hopes of making the land their own. Troubling histories of the South means reckoning with invasions and evasions.

Centering the concerns of Native peoples can help us reorient ourselves to histories of the South, the nation, and the hemisphere in ways that challenge our familiar narratives and also help us to see these places in relationship to one another.

If we do not embrace, however uneasily, the complexities and contradictions of a full, deep, long, and startlingly diverse South, we not only engage in bad history, but we also continue the work of silence and erasure begun at colonization. By relegating Native communities to the margins of the South, we quite literally undermine the survival of those Native communities today, compounding the “paper genocide” that has long accompanied settler colonialism here and abroad. And we flatten southern history in the process, producing a perhaps more colorful tale than we once told but one that nevertheless fits into a teleological narrative and misrepresents us all.25

This essay first appeared in the Left/Right Issue (vol. 25, no. 3: Fall 2019).

ANGELA PULLEY HUDSON is professor of history at Texas A&M University. Her recent book is Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians (UNC Press, 2015). She coedits the Indians and Southern History series from the University of Alabama Press.

Header image: The Great Migration South, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30, 2008.NOTES

  1. Andrew K. Frank and Kristofer Ray, “Guest Editors’ Introduction: Indians as Southerners; Southerners as Indians: Rethinking the History of a Region,” Native South 10 (2017): viii.
  2. There is extensive scholarship on “settler colonialism,” but a useful introduction is found in Patrick Wolfe, “Race and the Trace of History: For Henry Reynolds,” in Studies in Settler Colonialism: Politics, Identity and Culture, ed. Fiona Bateman and Lionel Pilkington (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, a division of St. Martin’s Press, 2011), 272–296; Gina Caison, Red States: Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, and Southern Studies (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018), 10; See Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Wang, “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (2012): 1–40. See also Sandy Grande, “Refusing the University,” in Toward What Justice? Describing Diverse Dreams of Justice in Education, ed. Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang (New York: Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis, 2018), 44–63.
  3. John Herbert Roper, quoted in William E. Leuchtenburg, foreword to The Burden of Southern History, 3rd ed., by C. Vann Woodward (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008), xii; Woodward, The Burden of Southern History, 5.
  4. James Taylor Carson, Robbie Ethridge, and Greg O’Brien, “Editors’ Introduction: A Line in the Sand,” Native South 1 (2008): ix; Nell Irvin Painter, Southern History Across the Color Line (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 2.
  5. Carson, Ethridge, and O’Brien, “A Line in the Sand,” x; Daniel H. Usner Jr., Indians, Settlers, & Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley Before 1783 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 2; Thomas M. Allen, “South of the American Renaissance,” American Literary History 16, no. 3 (Autumn 2004): 498.
  6. Malinda Maynor Lowery, “We are the Original Southerners,” New York Times, May 24, 2018, A31.
  7. Andrew Denson, Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and the Contest over Southern Memory (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017); on the relationship between binary racial categorization and Native sovereignty, see, among others, Malinda Maynor Lowery, Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), and Mikaëla Adams, Who Belongs? Race, Resources, and Tribal Citizenship in the Native South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).
  8. Charles M. Hudson, The Southeastern Indians (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976), 3; Timothy R. Pauketat and Susan M. Alt, “Medieval Life in America’s Heartland,” in Medieval Mississippians: The Cahokian World, ed. Timothy R. Pauketat and Susan M. Alt (Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press, 2015), 1–2; Roger G. Kennedy, Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilization (New York: Free Press, 1994), 12.
  9. Carson, Ethridge, and O’Brien, “A Line in the Sand,” xv; Ann McGrath, “Deep Histories in Time, or Crossing the Great Divide,” in Long History, Deep Time: Deepening Histories of Place, ed. Ann McGrath and Mary Anne Jebb (Acton: Australian National University Press; Aboriginal History, 2015), 2; Eric Gary Anderson, “Literary and Textual Histories of the Native South,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Literature of the U.S. South, ed. Fred Hobson and Barbara Ladd (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 19; Timothy R. Pauketat, Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi (New York: Penguin, 2009), 25–26.
  10. John Hope Franklin, Race and History: Selected Essays 1938–1988 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989), 71. For an accessible analysis of a Mississippian complex, see Vincas P. Steponaitis and C. Margaret Scarry, eds., Rethinking Moundville and Its Hinterland (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2016). Chapter 12 is a particularly useful model of cross-disciplinary scholarship.
  11. Christina Snyder, Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 8–9, 47; Tiya Miles, “Uncle Tom Was an Indian: Tracing the Red in Black Slavery,” in Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America, ed. James Brooks (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002), 138.
  12. See Daniel F. Littlefield Jr., introduction to The Life of Okah Tubbee (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988); Rev. L. L. Allen, A Thrilling Sketch of the Life of the Distinguished Chief Okah Tubbee [. . .] (New York, 1848), 15; James Taylor Carson, Searching for the Bright Path: The Mississippi Choctaws from Pre-history to Removal (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), 74, 80. See also Barbara Krauthamer, Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013), 28–29.
  13. George Lipsitz, “Mardi Gras Indians: Carnival and Counternarrative in Black New Orleans,” in When Brer Rabbit Meets Coyote: African-Native American Literature, ed. Jonathan Brennan (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 223.
  14. William Gilmore Simms, Tales of the South, ed. Mary Ann Wimsatt (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996), 197–224. See also Carson, Searching for the Bright Path, 1–2.
  15. Mary Ann Wimsatt, “Introduction,” Tales of the South (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996), 1–2.
  16. Charles Hudson, “An Ethnohistorical View,” in An Early and Strong Sympathy: The Indian Writings of William Gilmore Simms, eds. John Caldwell Guilds and Charles Hudson (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003), xxxv; Joel W. Martin, “‘My Grandmother Was a Cherokee Princess’: Representations of Indians in Southern History,” in Dressing in Feathers: The Construction of the Indian in American Popular Culture, ed. S. Elizabeth Bird (New York: Routledge, 1996), 141.
  17. Wolfe, “Race and the Trace of History,” 284; Martin, “‘My Grandmother Was a Cherokee Princess,’” 134; Rayna Green, “The Tribe Called Wannabe: Playing Indian in America and Europe,” Folklore 99, no. 1 (1988): 49.
  18. John Shelton Reed, “The Cherokee Princess in the Family Tree,” Southern Cultures 3, no. 1 (1997): 111. See also Circe Sturm, Becoming Indian: The Struggle Over Cherokee Identity in the Twenty-first Century (Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press, 2011); Martin, “‘My Grandmother Was a Cherokee Princess,’” 143; Larry J. Griffin, “When Heritage Is Hip,” Southern Cultures 14, no. 4 (2008): 149; Martin, “‘My Grandmother Was a Cherokee Princess,’” 143–145. See also Adams, Who Belongs?
  19. Anderson, “Literary and Textual Histories of the Native South,” 30; Choctaw Intelligencer (Doaksville, Choctaw Nation), October 15, 1851, 1; Choctaw Intelligencer, 1.
  20. Claudio Saunt, Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 4; Lowery, Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South, 124.
  21. Greg O’Brien, “An Interview with Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green,” The Native South: New Histories and Enduring Legacies, ed. Tim Alan Garrison and Greg O’Brien (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017), 22; Frank and Ray, “Indians as Southerners,” ix.
  22. One book that can serve as a model in this regard is Leon Fink, The Maya of Morganton: Work and Community in the Nuevo New South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).
  23. The predominantly African American neighborhood of Mondawmin was reportedly named by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who used the name “Mondamin” in his “Song of Hiawatha.” “Mondawmin,” Baltimore Museum of Industry, accessed February 27, 2017,; Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” Atlantic, June 2014,
  24. Shona N. Jackson, Creole Indigeneity: Between Myth and Nation in the Caribbean (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 2–6, 26.
  25. The terms “paper genocide” and “pencil genocide” are common in writings by and about Native Americans and settler colonialism. See, for example, Angela Gonzales, Judy Kertész, and Gabrielle Tayac, “Eugenics as Indian Removal: Sociohistorical Processes and the De(con)struction of American Indians in the Southeast,” The Public Historian 29, no. 3 (Summer 2007): 53–67.
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