Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5cfd469876-wb78c Total loading time: 0.366 Render date: 2021-06-25T04:43:31.714Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true }


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2015

Boyd Cothran
York University
C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa
George Mason University


Image of the first page of this article. For PDF version, please use the ‘Save PDF’ preceeding this image.
Forum: Indigenous Histories of The Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Copyright © Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


1 There are two notable exceptions to this statement. The first was a special issue organized by former editor Alan Lessoff from three independent article submissions in 2010. The essays, by Michelle Patterson, Katherine Osburn, and Angela Firkus, were organized loosely around the theme of “Indian Policy in the Progressive Era,” and the issue had commentary by Sherry Smith. The second was the publication, in January 2015, of Philip Deloria's Distinguished Scholar Address on Native citizenship and the Society of American Indians. See Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 9:4 (Oct. 2010)Google Scholar; and Deloria, Philip, “American Master Narratives and the Problem of Indian Citizenship in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 14:1 (Jan. 2015): 312CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 “New Indian History” emerged out of the dramatic Native political activism of the 1970s, the rise of social history, and an increasing interest in race and ethnicity in American history. It broke from scholarly trends that focused on Indian Wars and U.S.-Indian relations by portraying Native people as either blood-thirsty villains or noble savages in the process of being swept aside by American progress by examining Indian agency, Native perspectives, and critiquing U.S colonialism. For examples, see Vine Deloria Jr., Custer Died for Your Sins: And Indian Manifesto (New York: Macmillan, 1969); Anthony F. C. Wallace, Death and Rebirth of the Seneca (New York: Vintage Books, 1972); Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975); Neal Salisbury, Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500–1643 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982); James Axtell, The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); and R. David Edmunds, The Potawatomis: Keepers of the Fire (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987). For a historiographical overview, see Richter, Daniel K., “Whose Indian History,” William and Mary Quarterly 50:2 (Apr. 1993): 379–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

“Middle Grounds” refers to the concept, laid out in Richard White's seminal Middle Ground (1991), that Native communities and European settlers in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Great Lakes created a mutually defined (though often on misunderstandings) society based on Native and Europeans practices in which no group dominated but all influenced each other. His book influenced a generation of scholars to seek out “middle grounds” of cultural contact and exchange across North America. See Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991). For examples of scholars who were influenced by White's work or responded to it, see Daniel Richter, The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992); Daniel Usner, Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley before 1783 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992); Gregory Dowd, A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745–1815 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993); Jill Lepore: The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (New York: Knopf, 1998); James Merrell, Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1999); and Kathleen DuVal, The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); Alan Taylor, The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution (New York: Random House, 2006). See also Forum: The Middle Ground Revisited,” William and Mary Quarterly 63:1 (Jan. 2006): 396Google Scholar.”

For examples cited in the text, see Susan Sleeper-Smith, Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001); James Brooks, Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); Jean O'Brien, Dispossession by Degrees: Indian Land and Identity in Natick, Massachusetts, 1650–1790 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Anne Hyde, Empires, Nations, Families: A New History of the North American West (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011); Michael Witgen, An Infinity of Nations: How the Native New World Shaped Early North America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2013); Pekka Hämäläinen, The Comanche Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009); and Claudio Saunt, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2014).

For other examples of some of the best new work in Indigenous studies, see Juliana Barr, Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007); Pekka Hamalainen, The Comanche Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008); Ned Blackhawk, Violence Over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008); Brian DeLay, War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009); Jeani O'Brien, Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010); and Brett Rushforth, Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012); Kathryn Magee Labelle, Dispersed But Not Destroyed: A History of the Seventeenth-Century Wendat People (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2013).

3 Noenoe Silva, Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004).

4 Frederick Hoxie's classic study of federal assimilation policies in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, A Final Promise, built upon a foundation laid by Francis Prucha in American Indian Policy in Crisis. Examining the ways reformers and newly professionalized academics influenced policy makers, Hoxie plays with Gilded Age and Progressive Era chronology by asserting that there were actually two phases to the assimilation campaign: an early, optimistic attempt that ended by the late1890s; and a second, pessimistic push that lasted through the 1920s and resulted in a dramatic marginalization for tribal communities. Hoxie's more recent This Indian Country highlights how Indian activists in the period resisted assimilation through legal and political battles. Cultural historian Philip Deloria demonstrated how, contrary to white American cultural expectations, Native people at the turn of the twentieth century engaged with modernity in important and profound ways in Indians in Unexpected Places.

See Frederick Hoxie, A Final Promise: The Campaign to Assimilate the Indians, 1880–1920 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984); Francis Prucha, American Indian Policy in Crisis: Christian Reformers and the Indian, 1865–1900 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976); Frederick Hoxie, This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place they Made (New York: Penguin Books, 2013); Philip Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2004).

5 Influential studies over the past few decades include Tsianina Lomawaima, They Called It Prairie Light: The Story of the Chilocco Indian School (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996); Brenda Child, Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900–1940 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998); Emily Greenwald, Reconfiguring the Reservation: The Nez Perces, Jicarilla Apaches, and the Dawes Act (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002); and Jane Simonsen, Making Home Work: Domesticity and Native American Assimilation in the West, 1860–1919 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013); Karl Jacoby, Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003); Clyde Ellis, A Dancing People: Powwow Culture on the Southern Plains (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003); Claudio Saunt, Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Rose Stremlau, Sustaining the Cherokee Family: Kinship and the Allotment of an Indigenous Nation (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011).

We consider the books published recently by the authors in this forum to be among these influential works. A few other examples include Margaret Jacobs, White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880–1940 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009); and Karl Jacoby, Shadows at Dawn: A Apache Massacre and Violence of History (New York: Penguin Books, 2009); David Chang, The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Land Ownership in Oklahoma, 1832–1929 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

6 For a recent example of how this questions remains vibrant in Gilded Age and Progressive Era historiography, see Edwards, Rebecca, “Politics, Social Movements, and the Periodization of U.S. History,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 4:4 (Oct. 2009): 463–73Google Scholar.

7 Scholars including Patrick Wolfe, who work at the intersections of anthropology, literary criticism, and cultural theory, have encouraged us to think in nuanced and specific ways about the forms that colonization has taken throughout global history. Most important, as Osage anthropologist Jean Dennison asserted, “in the United States and other settler colonies, the process of conquest has been neither completed nor abandoned.” It has always been caught in repetition and in a constant state of rearticulation. See Jean Dennison, Colonial Entanglement: Constituting a Twenty-First-Century Osage Nation (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 6. For more, see Wolfe, Patrick, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal of Genocide Research 8:4 (Dec. 2006): 387409CrossRefGoogle Scholar; James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld (London: Oxford University Press, 2009), 79–94.”

8 A full accounting of this vast historiography is not practical, but consider, for example, C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1955); Edward L. Ayers, he Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992); Grace Elizabeth Hale, The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890–1940 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998); Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Jennifer Lynn Ritterhouse, Growing up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2006).

9 Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982); T. J. Jackson Lears, Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877–1920 (New York: HarperCollins, 2009); Linda Frost, Never One Nation: Freaks, Savages, and Whiteness in U.S. Popular Culture, 1850–1877 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005); Joy S. Kasson, Buffalo Bill's Wild West: Celebrity, Memory, and Popular History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000); Rebecca Edwards, New Spirits: Americans in the “Gilded Age,” 1865–1905 (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); John F. Kasson, Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man: The White Male Body and the Challenge of Modernity in America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001).”

10 See C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa, Crooked Paths to Allotment: The Fight over Federal Indian Policy after the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012); Chantal Norrgard, Seasons of Change: Labor, Treaty Rights, and Ojibwe Nationhood (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014); Cathleen Cahill, Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the Indian Service, 1869–1933 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011); 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); John Troutman, Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879–1934 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009); Boyd Cothran, Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and Making of American Innocence (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *