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Month: March 2017

On the Notorious RBG and Sherrill

On the Notorious RBG and Sherrill

Many of my friends have a great deal of affection for United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  My own enthusiasm for the “Notorious RBG,” however, is tempered by a consideration of the 8-1 opinion she wrote in the case of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation in 2005.  Today is the anniversary of that momentous decision. The Oneida Indian Nation had purchased on the free market lands within the small city of Sherrill, New York, in 1997 and 1998. …

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What You Need to Read

What You Need to Read

One of the challenges of producing a textbook in Native American History is keeping up with the enormous volume of scholarship my colleagues in history, anthropology, and archaeology produce.  It is an exciting time to work in this field, precisely because of the high quality of so much of this work.  I regularly check the tables of contents in Ethnohistory, Southern Indian Studies, American Indian Quarterly, and a host of other journals.  But here is a list of some of…

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I’m So Bored with the CSA

I’m So Bored with the CSA

On Tuesday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed legislation stating that his state would no longer commemorate Confederate general Robert E. Lee on the federal Martin Luther King holiday.  It is a nice gesture, as far as it goes. Now only Alabama and Mississippi maintain this callous disrespect for the Reverend King by linking the commemoration of his career with that of a Confederate leader who fought against all that he stood for. The Arkansas bill had wide support.  The signing…

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I Say 1622! You Say…

I Say 1622! You Say…

Sometimes, when the semester begins, I think of that scene in “Back to School” where Rodney Dangerfield’s character encounters an unhinged history professor played by the great Sam Kinison.  It never fails to make me laugh.  Totally inappropriate for use in the classroom but, in its way, it conveys quite well that historians (and others) can disagree at times sharply in their interpretation of historical events. When I teach my own Native American History course, I try to insert as…

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We Cannot Forget What We Do Not Remember

We Cannot Forget What We Do Not Remember

I have told  myself that I would not write about Donald Trump, but the guy is the gift that keeps on giving, if by gifts one means a series of outrages that forebode some national or global calamity. This week, on the Ides of March, our Bronze Creon visited the grave of Old Hickory, Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States. Trump’s affection for Jackson is clear–a portrait of Jackson hangs in the Oval Office and, in a…

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Yeah, About that Issue of What is Fair and What is Unfair

Yeah, About that Issue of What is Fair and What is Unfair

A number of disgruntled readers of my piece on Donald Trump have reached out to me with angry emails.  My essay appeared in the Syracuse newspapers a week or so ago. One reader raised an argument with which may of us who teach Native American history are familiar, and with which we must contend.  Referring to the Oneidas of New York, who operate a lucrative casino and resort complex a short distance from Syracuse and just off the New York…

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Thinking of Gnadenhutten, 8 March 1782

Thinking of Gnadenhutten, 8 March 1782

I have thought a lot lately about the old charge that University faculty are all left-wingers who distort the minds of the tender children enrolled in their courses.   I have never believed this.  When I took my first job in Montana, my colleagues in the history department included a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor who despised liberals and loved Rush Limbaugh, an Iraqi Seventh-Day Adventist who worried that African Americans would move to Billings because it was easier there to commit…

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Betsy DeVos Needs to go to School

Betsy DeVos Needs to go to School

What a dark and frightening world it is that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sees awaiting the young people attending the nation’s colleges and universities. “The faculty,” DeVos warned an audience some time back at the Conservative Political Action Conference, “from adjunct professors to deans, tell you want to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think.” Oh, Secretary DeVos, you have it all so wrong. I have attended colleges and universities, public and private, as a student…

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Oliphant v. Suquamish: Thirty-Eight Years Ago Today

Oliphant v. Suquamish: Thirty-Eight Years Ago Today

  Today is the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in  Oliphant v. Suquamish, a case that involved a native community along the Salish Sea, a white interloper, and the evisceration of the power of native peoples to govern and preserve order in their communities.  The Court issued its ruling on this date in 1978. When I revised Native America and completed the second edition, I wanted to include more discussion of the role played by the American judiciary in…

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