White Women and Indian Removal Discussion (January 1996)


White Women and Indian Removal Discussion (January 1996)


Query: From Sara Romeyn Am Civ/Geo. Washington Unorthrop@gwis2.circ.gwu.edu


I am a third year graduate student at George Washington Univ., in the Ph.D. program in American Studies. I am working on my dissertation proposal, and have found myself in an unusual situation -- I have plenty or primary sources but few secondary resources. I am analyzing the responses of white New England women to government policy re: Native Americans from the Jackson era to the Dawes Act. My research is based in the thousands of petitions submitted to Congress by women in these years, acting both as individuals and as part of a larger (often church-based) group. I am specifically interested in issues of language and indentification--I find it fascinating that many petitions expressed a "connection" with the plight of the Native Americans, based on a sense of shared marginalization.

So here is my query: does anyone know of secondary sources on this topic? The books I have found thus far fall into a couple of categories. There are plenty of books on gov't policy--important to have under my belt, but with no mention of protest. I've read some interesting works about white women/native American contact (Peggy Pascoe, Sara Deutch), but these works are later and centered on missionary efforts in the west. Finally, I've found tantalizing mentions of such activity in general works on reform, or in places like Sklar's biography of Beecher. It appears that opponents of Indian removal were often involved in suffrage/temperance/abolitionist movements.

Finally, has anyone come across mention of local Indian Removal protest activity while digging through New England town archives? I think I have my work cut out for me, but am excited about this topic. Any leads would be greatly appreciated.



From Kate Hunter Victoria Univ. of Wellington, New Zealand kate.hunter@vuw.ac.nz 16 Jan 1996

I can't help with secondary sources specific to US but you may like to try Susan Sheridan's Along Faultlines: Sex, Race and Nation in Australian Women's Writings, 1880s to 1930s (Allen and Unwin, 1995) for some wider material about white women and indigenous people (particularly on the removal of Aboriginal children, and solidarity on the basis of shared motherhood). Also, (this may be more difficult to get), Tonkinson, "Sisterhood or Aboriginal Servitude? Black Women and White Women on the Australian Frontier," Aboriginal History, 12, nos. 1-2, pp. 27-39.

Hope that's some help.

From: Dolores Janiewski Victoria Univ. of Wellington dolores.janiewski@vuw.ac.nz 16 Jan 1996 Fax 64-4-495-5261 or 471-2070 Phone 64-4-471-5344, ext 7042(ofc) 64-4-478-2691 (Home)

Unfortunately, the secondary work on this topic is scarce, so you might try talking to experts such as Frederick Hoxies at the Newberry Library.

For the earlier period I'd suggest finding out more about Lydia Maria Child, and her activities. She wrote a novel Hobomok (sp?) and wrote on Indian matters as well as her activities with abolitionism/feminism.

For the later period--Dawes Act, etc--a good start is the work of Joan Mark, particularly A Stranger in Her Native Land : Alice Fletcher and the American Indians and Frederick Hoxie, A Final Promise...about the Dawes Act. I have published a brief study of Fletcher in Hewitt and Lebsock, Visible Women: New Studies in American Activism (U of Illinois, 1993).

There were many women involved in the Lake Mohonk Friends of the Indian Movement that began meeting in the 1880s, along with the National Women's Indian Association. See also Bright Eyes: The Story of Susette La Flesche for a study of an Omaha woman involved with the reform movement. Some of the women also participated in the gatherings of the Association for the Advancement of Women in the 1870s, including Fletcher, and the International Council of Women convened by Susan B. Anthony , and the National Women's Council, so some histories of women's organizations and the feminist movement might contain references to them.

Some of these reformers have brief bios in Notable American Women, including Fletcher, Child, Elaine Goodale Eastman, who has a biography, Sister to the Sioux, which would be another place to get references.

Looking for studies of Indian schools and Indian education is another way of discovering women's involvement, as well as books about missionaries, such as Michael C. Coleman's Presbyterian Missionary Attitudes Toward American Indians. I hope this helps.

>From Maria Elena Raymond 73113.1362@compuserve.com

I would like to add a couple of suggestions along the lines of Dolores Janiewski's response: Bringing The Gospel In Hogan and Pueblo by Rev. J. Dolfin(Van Nord Book and Pub. Co; Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1921)gives solid look at a number of missionaries and their work w/Navaho and Zuni tribes in New Mexico, as well as a chapter devoted to non-reservation schools. Each chapter was contributed by a different missionary working in a specific area.

Also: A View From Officers' Row: Army Perceptions of Western Indians Sherry L. Smith (U of Arizona Press, 1990)...excellent look at attitudes of Army wives toward Indians.

For Native-American POV, Linda Hogan's Mean Spirit (Ivy, Ballantine, 1990) focuses on disintegration of the Osage community in Oklahoma as they are displaced by whites. Also, Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine(Holt, 1984) and Tracks (Holt, 1988) contain powerful portrayals of children taken from families and sent to convent schools and/or non-reservation schools.