Brittney Alexander

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10487

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Alexander, Brittney (New York, Graduate Center, City U. of) "Kin-Centric Circles: Reimagining Native Land and Language Reclamation as Cycles of Renewal and Relationality"

Much scholarship circulates narratives of reclamation as processes to reverse loss and theft due to settler colonialism, reproducing the exceptionalism of colonial events. This project instead draws from Shawnee concepts to reimagine reclamation as perpetual cycles of renewal and relationality. Centering Shawnee perspectives and histories through knowledge-shares with Shawnee citizens from the three tribally-recognized Shawnee bands, this multi-sited (Serpent Mound, Ohio; Johnson County, Kansas; northeastern Oklahoma; online) mixed methods (surveys, interviews, archives, autoethnography, participant observation) ethnography asks what Shawnee land and language reclamation projects say about place and relating. Oral tradition says that renewing Shawnee commitment to land and language stems from our First Law and creates a kinship bond, or what I call a kin-centric circle, that serves as a space to identify, outline, and mark relatives (to include) and non-relatives (to exclude) in time and space. These circles overlap, expand, contract, change, and blur; they are not static nor predictable, necessitating renewal. Tracing Shawnee histories from the First Law reveals that reclamation projects are more than responses to political and social climates or as shallow signals of individual or tribal identities but as something much deeper to what it means to be Shawnee in a world of relations.