Call for panelists: "Sovereignty in Practice: Local Defenses of Native Land" at Ethnohistory 2017

Julia Lewandoski Discussion

I am seeking participants for a panel at Ethnohistory in October 2017 (Winnipeg). Titled “Sovereignty in Practice: Local Defenses of Native Land,” this panel will include geographically and temporally diverse papers that explore local negotiations over Native territory and sovereignty. While sovereignty is often seen as a matter of recognition by high-level federal or imperial authorities, Native territorial and political integrity is also produced, claimed, and defended at the local level. District courts, land surveyors, notaries, tax assessors, post commandants, law enforcement officials, municipal governments, corporations, and many other local functionaries all contribute to the political and territorial boundaries between Native and settler spaces.

Did local officials consistently act as complicit enforcers of settler colonialism? Were they ever allies? Were they dysfunctional, locally-interested, or working at cross purposes to high-level decrees? When did local boundary disputes flare into federal or imperial negotiations over sovereignty? How did Native nations develop strategic relationships with settler neighbors, local governing bodies, and low-level colonial officials? What did it mean to defend land and sovereignty locally?

My work focuses on Native participation in private land claims processes after imperial transitions, specifically in the Lower Mississippi Valley after the Louisiana Purchase, and the Los Angeles Basin after the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. I seek panelists working on local-level interactions throughout the Americas. Papers could focus on individuals or groups, and discuss issues of sovereignty, identity, and territory broadly defined.  

Interested panelists should send an abstract and one-page CV to

More information about the conference can be found here: