Megan Alexandria Baker

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Los Angeles, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9982

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Baker, Megan (California, Los Angeles, U. of) "Pedagogies of Indigenous Sovereignty: Settler Law, Land Dispossession and Choctaw Economic Development in Oklahoma"

This project examines the relationship between Indigenous dispossession and development as a political-social phenomenon. Since Choctaw forced removal from their ancestral homelands to Indian Territory beginning in 1831, American law and policy has caused massive land loss and a decline in their political authority in their new territories. Now in an era of self-determined economic development in which their political and economic power has massively expanded, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is working to reverse that land loss and the poverty stemming from it. Spectacular economic and political authority would suggest a greater ability to reclaim their lands and rectify the effects of poverty. Nevertheless, Choctaw citizens still face immense challenges in holding onto their homes and lands. To understand this paradox, I pair archival investigation into the origins of Choctaw poverty that gave rise to the need for Choctaw economic development with ethnographic research on the ways that contemporary Choctaw government and citizens navigate and respond to this complex matrix of laws, restrictions, and policy. By tracing historical mechanisms of land dispossession as they meet up with contemporary policy, my research shows how the practice American law has and continues to shape the everyday life throughout southeastern Oklahoma today.