Home/ward bound: The making of domestic relations in Native American literature and law, 1886--1936

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Stanford University, 2007 - 512 pages
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This dissertation reads legal codifications of the Native American family in dynamic relation with figurative renderings of love, marriage, family, and sexuality by Native writers in the United States and Canada in the period 1886-1936. In bringing together the fields of literature and law, I investigate how indigenous legal concepts and metaphors are expressed in literary texts to variously articulate, refigure, and subvert political relations with colonial forces. Native writers operated within and against literary conventions and bounded political space to speak to multiple audiences. This project focuses primarily upon native women intellectuals, and emphasizes the intersections of gender formation and colonial processes. Domestic relations serve as the locus of analysis, as I explore the literary and legal functions of kinship terms, marriage contracts, adoption, and paternal/maternal relations between and among native nations and federal powers in the U.S. and Canada. I emphasize the legal and cultural context of each text by drawing on historical material, commentaries on federal and aboriginal law, and cultural studies texts. The introduction explores the interplay of native legal concepts, federal Indian law, and native literary traditions and asserts the significance of transnational approaches. The second chapter analyzes how Mohawk writer Emily Pauline Johnson figures treaty metaphors in an early poem to assert a distinct Six Nations political subjectivity and how two short stories question the policies of "liberal benevolence" by the Canadian government. The third chapter considers the legal concept of "occupation" as a multiply inflected term in Okanogan writer Mourning Dove's western romance, Cogewea, and analyzes the function of indigenous preoccupation as it animates claims to land and self-determination. The fourth chapter compares the rhetorical strategies of two texts by Oneida writer Laura Cornelius Kellogg: a speech for the Society of American Indians and her essay collection, Our Democracy and the American Indian, prepared for a general audience. The final chapter examines Cree/Flathead writer D'Arcy McNickle's 1936 novel, The Surrounded, in the context of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. I explore how the novel contests government paternalism, giving particular attention to the Kateri narrative embedded in Catherine's story of spiritual resistance.

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E Pauline Johnson on Love
Claims to Land and Love

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