Circe Sturm takes a bold and original approach to one of the most highly charged and important issues in the United States today: race and national identity. Focusing on the Oklahoma Cherokee, she examines how Cherokee identity is socially and politically constructed, and how that process is embedded in ideas of blood, color, and race. Not quite a century ago, blood degree varied among Cherokee citizens from full blood to 1/256, but today the range is far greater--from full blood to 1/2048. This trend raises questions about the symbolic significance of blood and the degree to which blood connections can stretch and still carry a sense of legitimacy. It also raises questions about how much racial blending can occur before Cherokees cease to be identified as a distinct people and what danger is posed to Cherokee sovereignty if the federal government continues to identify Cherokees and other Native Americans on a racial basis. Combining contemporary ethnography and ethnohistory, Sturm's sophisticated and insightful analysis probes the intersection of race and national identity, the process of nation formation, and the dangers in linking racial and national identities.
List of Illustrations
Chapter One. Opening
Chapter Two. Blood, Culture, and Race: Cherokee Politics and Identity in the Eighteenth Century
Chapter Three. Race as Nation, Race as Blood Quantum: The Racial Politics of Cherokee Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century
Chapter Four. Law of Blood, Politics of Nation: The Political Foundations of Racial Rule in the Cherokee Nation, 1907-2000
Chapter Five. Social Classification and Racial Contestation: Local Non-National Interpretations of Cherokee Identity
Chapter Six. Blood and Marriage: The Interplay of Kinship, Race, and Power in Traditional Cherokee Communities
Chapter Seven. Challenging the Color Line: The Trials and Tribulations of the Cherokee Freedmen
Chapter Eight. Closing
Circe Sturm is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
“Well-written and insightful. An analysis that surpasses any previous work on the subject in detail and sophistication.”—Wyman Kirk Journal Of American Folklore
offers an anthropological analysis of contemporary identity politics within the second largest Indian tribe in the United States--one that pays particular attention to the symbol of "blood." The work treats an extremely sensitive topic with originality and insight. It is also notable for bringing contemporary theories of race, nationalism, and social identity to bear upon the case of the Oklahoma Cherokee."—Pauline Turner Strong, author of Captive Selves, Captivating Others: The Politics and Poetics of Colonial American Captivity Narratives
2002 Outstanding Book on Oklahoma History, Oklahoma Historical Society
Finalist in the Non-fiction category of the Oklahoma Book Awards, Oklahoma Center for the Book