Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Marion Rust

Abstract

What, this project asks, are the impacts of the alliance between women and Native Americans in the nineteenth century debate over Indian Removal? How might groups similarly excluded from patriarchal systems of government by race and gender turn exclusion into arguments for inclusion? In what ways might this alliance change interpretations of the women’s right and Native American rights movements? While arguments made by women and Native Americans during Indian Removal receive considerable scholarly attention, most studies-especially those concerned with women’s involvement- subordinate Indian Removal to abolition or create significant omissions in the narratives of both movements by adopting a critical approach that interprets strategic use of racialized and gendered ideology as assimilation.

In “ Creating Domestic Dependents” I fill these gaps and situate Indian Removal as a significant intersection of the Native American rights and women’s rights movements. Using historical romances by Catherine Sedgwick and Lydia Child, Catherine Beecher’s “Circular Addressed to the Benevolent Ladies of the United States,” the Cherokee Nation’s “1829 Memorial” and “Letter to the American People,” and domestic fiction by E.D.E.N Southworth and Nathaniel Hawthorne, I argue that, during Indian Removal, white women and the Cherokee come together to fight for rights by situating property-- the very thing used to exclude them-- at the center of their arguments for rights and against Indian Removal. In doing this, they create interdependent approaches that simultaneously embrace and reject prescribed societal roles in order to construct a rhetorical strategy composed of moments of public solidarity and strategic distance.

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