Dr. Christina Snyder, Dept. of History, Thomas and Kathryn Miller Associate
Professor, Indiana University - Bloomington
"The Rise and Fall and Rise of Civilizations: Indian Intellectual Culture during the Removal Era"
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Here's Dr. Synder's description of the lecture:
This talk addresses Indian intellectual history and, more broadly, a reconsideration of Indigenous engagement with global networks forged by the communications revolution. It focuses Native American students and alumni who attended Choctaw Academy (outside Lexington, KY), the first federally-controlled Indian boarding school in the United States. The school operated from 1825 to 1848, a formative period of U.S. imperialism, when federal Indian policy shifted from assimilation to removal. In justifying this change, Jacksonian officials sought to redefine the nature of Indianness—away from a primarily political identity based on membership in a foreign nation and toward a racial category associated with primitivism.
I focus on Indian scholars who pushed back, using varied tools assert Native sovereignty and modernity. Evidence drawn from their coursework and post-graduate lives reveals that Choctaw Academy’s students combined Indigenous knowledge with what they learned at school, a powerful alchemy which enabled them to theorize broadly about colonialism, nationalism, and even the nature of history. Far from a straightforward story of alienation, the students’ engagement with their coursework demonstrates how young Indian intellectuals used their studies to articulate a more empowering and useful narrative of both American and global history.