Abstract: This dissertation explores representations of the captivity narrative of Cynthia Ann Parker, an Anglo woman captured as a child by Comanche, with whom she lived in a kinship relationship until her forced return to Anglo society twenty-four years later. The project draws upon trauma theory to explain the persistent appeal of Parker’s narrative. Interpretations analyzed include the original historical account of Parker’s narrative, and appearances in the genres of opera, film, graphic novel, and historical fiction. The dissertation reveals how appearances of Parker’s narrative correspond to periods in US history in which social change threated the dominant position of Anglo American men. The primary argument is that captivity narratives serve to reinforce hegemonic Anglo masculinity promoted by the American settler colonial system. The dissertation is divided into six chapters organized chronologically to demonstrate the significance of Parker’s narrative in various historical moments. Chapter One provides a historical overview of Parker’s story and briefly reviews the impact of captivity narratives. Chapter Two explores the first formal historical account of Parker’s narrative and discusses the significance of myth to conceptions of Americanism during the Progressive Era. Chapter Three examines Julia Smith’s interpretation of Parker’s narrative via her opera, Cynthia Parker, to show how expansion of rights for white women between World Wars I and II failed to translate to equal rights for all due to the persistence of the racial hierarchy established by the settler colonial system. In Chapter Four, John Ford’s film The Searchersdemonstrates how Parker’s narrative helped reinforce the social position of Anglo men returning from World War II. Chapter Five looks to alternative forms of Parker’s narrative in the graphic novel, White Comanche, and historical fiction, Ride the Wind, to demonstrate how Anglo writers, even when attempting to center Native people as agents in Parker’s story, continue to reinforce negative stereotypes that perpetuate the supremacy of Anglo masculinity. The final chapter briefly looks at the current political and social climate of the US to demonstrate how the long-term insidious trauma inherent in the settler colonial system continues to impact racial and gender hierarchical performance.

Abstract: In 1879, the U.S. government embarked upon a program to assimilate thousands of Native American children who were taken from their homes and sent to off-reservation boarding schools managed by federal officials. These schools were designed to destroy the connections between Native children and their lands, isolate them from their families, and divorce them from their cultures and traditions. The Stewart Indian School opened in Carson City, Nevada, in December 1890, and enthusiastically embraced its mission. Newly enrolled students were separated from their families, had their appearances altered, and were forced speak only English. They were assigned work details on campus, compelled to attend church, and placed in remedial classes and vocational training programs. The message at Stewart, particularly during its early years, was clear: assimilation meant the adoption of white, middle-class values for Native students, forgoing their connections with tribal lands and communities, and the explicit acceptance of Indigenous inferiority and white supremacy. For U.S. officials, school like Stewart would resolve the “Indian problem” once and for all by eradicating Indigenous cultures, ending U.S. treaty obligations, and allowing the unfettered expansion of white settlers into Native lands.

In this dissertation, I argue that settler colonialism propelled U.S. government programs designed to assimilate generations of Native children at the Stewart Indian School. I examine the history of the Stewart Indian School from its opening in 1890 to its closure in 1980, and underscore the settler colonial underpinnings of assimilationist practices at the school. At the same time, I also employ a borderlands framework to explain how and why Indigenous students and their families subverted school rules, and to investigate tensions between federal officials and the local authorities charged with implementing their policies. I further evaluate the current status of the Stewart Indian School grounds to underscore the ongoing nature of federal and state settler colonial policies, which have focused, until recently, on erasing the trauma inflicted on generations of Native families connected to the school.

Each chapter explores different periods of the Stewart Indian School’s history and connects them with trends in federal Indian policy. After a discussion of methodologies and the boarding school system, chapter two focuses on the early decades of the school, when students were subjected to harsh assimilationist policies. Chapter three examines reforms that occurred between 1925 and 1948, and argues that, despite new federal guidelines, Stewart School officials remained intent on the assimilation of Native children. The fourth chapter focuses on the implementation of the Navajo Special Program at Stewart, and connects this rigidly assimilationist program with federal attempts to terminate tribal rights and relocate Native peoples to urban areas. In chapter five, I describe student and parent-led reform efforts in the 1960s and 1970s, their connections with national self-determination movements, and Stewart officials’ continued focus on assimilation. My final chapter examines the history of the Stewart School after its 1980 closure, and illustrates how state, federal, and local officials sought to erase negative Indigenous experiences at the Stewart Indian School and replace them with an overwhelmingly positive historical narrative.

Abstract: This article examines the primary means by which Israeli settler colonialism has appropriated and reconfigured Jerusalem since 1948—discursively no less than physically. It analyzes how the Jewish state, building on the colonial suppositions and discourses of the pre-1948 Zionist movement, has sought to efface Palestinian attachments to and histories in this contested urban realm. This piece foregrounds the life and works of Jewish Israeli philosopher Martin Buber and the binationalist, antistatist politics he sought to build in Palestine with the indigenous Arab populations before the creation of Israel in 1948. However, it also offers a critique of the ways in which even Buber and other Zionist binationalists’ dovish political positions were implicated in settler colonialism and the displacement and erasure of the Palestinians. The article details some of the ways in which the mobilization of presence and absence has been crucial to Israel’s colonization of Jerusalem and how they have been utilized in the service of the state’s drive for exclusive control over this symbolically potent city. This is done, principally, through a reading of the Palestinian house in Jerusalem in which Buber resided during his first four years in the country: the family home of Palestinian scholar and activist Edward Said. This article explores the relationship between the exiled intellectual, Said, and this structure, commandeered by Zionist forces in 1948. This article also explores some of Said’s views on colonial landscapes and binationalist futures for Israelis and Palestinians.