"We Are This People and We Intend to Endure as Such": Black and Indigenous Peoplehood and Persistence
AuthorEllasante, Ian Khara
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 09/01/2020
AbstractThis dissertation, “We Are This People and We Intend to Endure As Such”: Black and Indigenous Peoplehood and Persistence, engages the Indigenous peoplehood matrix, a core theoretical construct developed by Indigenous scholars and comprised of four interrelated elements: land, language, sacred history, and ceremonial cycle. In a comprehensive overview of the peoplehood matrix, I note that the model emerges, in part, from anthropology’s theories of enduring peoples and persistent cultural systems, then modified and further fortified with Indigenous epistemologies. In my research, I employ the peoplehood matrix to delineate Indigenous cultural identity and introduce a model of African American peoplehood, respectfully adapted from the Indigenous peoplehood matrix, comprised of the elements of embodied Blackness, expression, heritage, and spirituality. I underscore the attributes of both matrices that represent persistent cultural identity systems. Through this analysis, I demonstrate that, in both models, the interconnectedness of the elements of peoplehood establishes and maintains persistent cultural identity with a built-in capacity, in the elements of sacred history and heritage, for continuity—a necessary characteristic for persistence, particularly within the milieu of settler colonialism. Within this context, I argue that resistance to assimilation and erasure further coalesces a people, is inherent to American Indian and African American peoplehood, and corresponds with continuing demands for sovereignty and emancipation. In making this argument, I identify appropriation and annihilation as the double-pronged settler-colonial imperative in relation to American Indigeneity and American Blackness, while also naming various mechanisms of the peoples’ ongoing resistance to it. Here, I introduce and elucidate the ideas of “oppositional identification,” “oppositional coalescence,” and “contrast mechanisms” and advance the Peoplehood and Persistence model, a tool for the analysis of boundary maintenance. Further, I examine the settler-biopolitical aims to exploit Black bodies and American Indian lands via strategic educational policies and the eradication of American Indian gender systems, many with extra-binary gender roles.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
American Indian Studies