Adoption Nation

Mark Rifkin

in When Did Indians Become Straight?

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199755455
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894888 | DOI:
Adoption Nation

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Chapter 2 explores the ways the early-nineteenth-century ascendance of (white) marital privacy as a metonym for national identity was contested by non-natives. Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Hope Leslie (1827) utilizes figures of captivity (both by and of Indians) to illustrate native traditions of generosity and community. Set in the early seventeenth century, it juxtaposes the supposedly expansive forms of kin-making among the Pequots with the authoritarianism of the patriarchal family. English colonists are depicted as learning from native models of kinship, which are less privatizing and couple-centered. In this way, a possibility for settler-native union is posited that rejects the contemporaneous discourses of blood difference addressed in the previous chapter. However, the novel’s idea of a native pedagogy that can reformulate non-native publics ignores the ways that native kinship networks are less a form of interracial bonding than a mode of geopolitical boundary-making and diplomacy. The chapter demonstrates this dynamic through a reading of Hendrick Aupaumut’s “Short Narration of My Last Journey to the Western Country” (1792), which provides a mapping of ongoing native diplomatic networks structured around kinship whose ordering principles cannot be encompassed in the logic of U.S. Indian policy.

Keywords: Catharine Maria Sedgwick; Hendrick Aupaumut; Mahicans; Pequots; captivity; diplomacy; patriarchy

Chapter.  19976 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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