Spring 2018

Recognition, Antiracism & Indigenous Futures: A View from Connecticut

Amy E. Den Ouden
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This essay is offered as a tribute to Golden Hill Paugussett Chief Big Eagle and his defiance of the entrenched racism to which his tribal community has been subjected. I situate this analysis in Connecticut in the early 1970s at a moment of particular historical significance in tribal nations' centuries-long struggles to assert their sovereignty, defend reservation lands, and ensure their futures. I analyze how the racialization of Native peoples in Connecticut informed the state's management of “Indian affairs” in this period and argue that the virulent racism of the state's antirecognition policy in the late twentieth century reflects a long history of institutionally embedded racist policies and practices. In this essay, I call for politically engaged, antiracist research that is concerned with understanding the complexities of tribal sovereignty asserted in local contexts in which governmental control of Indian affairs reproduces and validates White-supremacist ideology.

AMY E. DEN OUDEN is Associate Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is the author of Beyond Conquest: Native Peoples and the Struggle for History in New England (2005) and editor of Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the United States (with Jean M. O'Brien, 2013). Her essays on Indigenous land rights, Native New England, and tribal sovereignty have appeared in such journals as History and Anthropology and American Anthropologist and the recent volumes Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies and The World of Indigenous North America.