Early American History Seminar: Katy Chiles, Northwestern University

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Early American History and Culture Seminar

“’Of our own colar’: Racing Native Alliances in Hendrick Aupaumut’s ‘Short Narration’”
Katy Chiles, Northwestern University

A Native American sachem who fought on the American side of the Revolutionary War, Captain Hendrick Aupaumut was tapped by President George Washington to serve as a diplomat to the British-allied Miami and Shawnee leaders who fought against white frontier settlers. Aupaumut recorded his negotiations in his 1792 “A Short Narration of My last Journey to the Western Contry,” and this paper considers how Aupaumut conceives of racialized political alliances. Aupaumut evokes the concept of one “color” as a part of one’s past and identity that can be mobilized politically, even if members of a group do not agree on what “race” itself is. As we shall see, he thus crucially reworks several late eighteenth-century conceptions of racial difference.