Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2009, pp. 000-000
Scholars of anthropology (particularly historical anthropology), history, and Native American studies interested in Choctaw history, cultural changes, everyday life choices, and contributions to American culture should find The Choctaws in Oklahoma: From Tribe to Nation, 1855-1970 and How Choctaws Invented Civilization and Why Choctaws Will Conquer the World important new contributions to the historical literature articulated by strong Choctaw voices. And readers interested in the complexities of Choctaw life in the Southern Plains, how Choctaws interacted with the region's other Indigenous groups (e.g., Kiowas and Comanches), and the inconsistencies between federal policies and Choctaw lived realities over time will be enlightened by the candid arguments both authors present. While Clara Sue Kidwell and D. L. Birchfield share a desire to offer both academic readers and everyday Choctaws-especially young Choctaws-a historical resource from a Choctaw point of view, they differ profoundly in the goals of their analyses, their styles of presentation, the subject matter they cover, and their contributions to the historical record.
To illuminate the historical dynamics of Choctaw cultural changes from 1855-1970, Kidwell offers a comprehensive guide to 61 understanding how, during the hundred plus years of rigidly imposed U.S. laws and courts, Choctaws learned to use these institutions to demand their rights guaranteed under treaties. Although adaptations to the fledgling state and federal legal systems of the nineteenth century led to the adoption of many EuropeanAmerican cultural practices, such changes also created an enduring Choctaw political identity in the face of federal policies and pressures to assimilate. Relying primarily on the historical records housed at Chicago's Newberry Library and the Western History Collection at the University of Oklahoma, Kidwell begins with a detailed discussion of Choctaw adaptation to U.S. policies prior to 1855, starting with the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, the first removal treaty under the Indian Removal Act.