Scrapbooking Settler Colonialism: Lists, Hotchkiss Guns, and Temporalities of Violence

Criticism / Kelly Wisecup

:: Scrapbooking Settler Colonialism: Lists, Hotchkiss Guns, and Temporalities of Violence ::

If you dri­ve as far north as pos­si­ble on Michigan’s Upper Penin­su­la, the last town you’ll reach before run­ning out of road and land is Cop­per Har­bor, a small tourist town, pop­u­la­tion 108. Sit­u­at­ed near sev­er­al epony­mous cop­per mines that saw their hey­day in the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry and the har­bor that con­nect­ed the region to east­ern ports in these moments of eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty, Cop­per Har­bor now relies on this past for its sense of iden­ti­ty. A set of paint­ed wood­en planters wel­comes vis­i­tors to the town, pro­claim­ing that this is “Where His­to­ry Begins” and plac­ing the town’s ori­gins in 1843 (Fig. 1). This begin­ning is placed con­ve­nient­ly after cop­per was “dis­cov­ered” by white men in 1840 and after the 1842 Treaty of La Pointe, in which Ojib­we nations ced­ed land in what are now called the Keweenaw Penin­su­la, Min­neso­ta, and Michi­gan to the Unit­ed States. [i] Cop­per Harbor’s wel­com­ing planters and local his­to­ry cre­ate a tem­po­ral rift that allows time to begin at a moment that empha­sizes “pio­neers” and their exca­va­tion of min­er­al resources. The sto­ry is one of resource­ful­ness, min­ing booms and busts, light­hous­es, ship­wrecks, forts, and mines. It’s also a sto­ry that some res­i­dents posit as explic­it­ly at odds with Indige­nous his­to­ries of the penin­su­la. A local tour guide insist­ed to our group, in response to one woman’s com­ment that Native peo­ple were the first “Amer­i­cans,” that “our” his­to­ry was pio­neer (aka white) his­to­ry and that it was impor­tant to the region to pre­serve that sto­ry. Cop­per Harbor’s his­to­ry is aimed at mak­ing white set­tlers (like me) feel com­fort­able with the exist­ing way of things and at assur­ing every­one of the con­tin­ued via­bil­i­ty of these his­to­ries and ways of life.


Fig. 1. Coop­er Har­bor. Pho­to by the author.

Native peo­ple are not whol­ly absent from the town’s his­to­ries, how­ev­er: a small muse­um attached to the Min­neton­ka Resort adver­tis­es “Indi­an Relics.” These “relics” are held in a room packed with oth­er unre­lat­ed objects: pho­tos, antiques, old toys, an ear­ly div­ing suit, and fam­i­ly mem­o­ra­bil­ia. The back wall is devot­ed to cas­es hold­ing the promised “relics”: the cas­es are filled with arrow­heads, knives, and oth­er tools that “man” employed for “war and domes­tic use,” mate­ri­als that white set­tlers col­lect­ed from the fields and beach­es they claimed as theirs. One par­tic­u­lar­ly macabre case arranges bead­ed bags, dolls, and col­lectible cards fea­tur­ing Native lead­ers along­side an uniden­ti­fied skull (Fig. 2). This case mix­es domes­tic and artis­tic mate­ri­als with items cre­at­ed specif­i­cal­ly for col­lect­ing and cir­cu­lat­ing, in this way fram­ing the dolls and bags—items made for play and for prac­ti­cal use—as the equiv­a­lents of the col­lectibles. Placed in the con­text of the case, the dolls and bags are dis­con­nect­ed from the peo­ple who made and used them; the exhib­it trans­forms them into objects for dis­play, the pos­ses­sions of white set­tlers keen to con­tain the peninsula’s Indige­nous his­to­ries and futures in museums. 


Fig. 2. “Relics.” Pho­to by the author.

This image has been cropped to show only the cards and dolls, as an acknowl­edg­ment of the ongo­ing trau­ma pro­duced both by local col­lec­tions like the one in Cop­per Har­bor and by more vis­i­ble muse­um dis­plays that fea­ture human remains and oth­er Indige­nous mate­ri­als. The 1990 Native Amer­i­can Graves Pro­tec­tion and Repa­tri­a­tion Act (NAGPRA) required fed­er­al­ly fund­ed repos­i­to­ries to iden­ti­fy the lin­eal descen­dants and trib­al com­mu­ni­ties to which Native Amer­i­can cul­tur­al items belong and to return such items. How­ev­er, non-fed­er­al­ly fund­ed muse­ums such as the one run by the Min­neton­ka Resort are not cov­ered by the law and are thus not legal­ly required to repa­tri­ate human remains and oth­er materials.

Mean­while, the uniden­ti­fied skull stands as a claim to Indi­an van­ish­ing and even per­haps as a threat to the imag­ined future for Native peo­ples that the dolls—the pos­ses­sions of a new generation—symbolize. Plac­ing the skull in prox­im­i­ty to the dolls, the case sug­gests that all of the objects are the mate­ri­als of a dead and van­ished peo­ple while also eras­ing his­to­ries of Indige­nous removal and of per­sis­tence (the lat­ter belied by a pho­to­graph across the room of a “half­breed Chippe­wa” woman who lived in Cop­per Har­bor). The place­ment of the cards, human remains, and dolls in a sin­gle case points not only to the nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry fond­ness for arrang­ing items in eclec­tic con­fig­u­ra­tions but also to the ways that set­tler colo­nial his­to­ry rests on col­laps­ing object dis­tinc­tions and tem­po­ral cat­e­gories in order to tell its sto­ries. The frame of the case gen­er­ates rela­tion­ships among these mate­ri­als that oth­er­wise might not exist, using spa­tial prox­im­i­ty to cre­ate a sto­ry of death, dis­ap­pear­ance, and set­tler pos­ses­sion. Rather than estab­lish­ing rela­tions across his­to­ries that might prompt set­tlers and oth­er view­ers to attend to pre-exist­ing and ongo­ing Indige­nous his­to­ries, the move to con­fla­tion and col­lapse acts as a vehi­cle of era­sure. [ii] The muse­um (and the town) need not acknowl­edge their dis­pos­ses­sion of the Ojib­we peo­ple whose home­lands they set­tled, nor the con­tin­ued pres­ence and influ­ence of Ojib­we com­mu­ni­ties in the area. [iii]

The muse­um of Indi­an relics, the claims that Cop­per Har­bor is “where his­to­ry begins,” the insis­tence that pre-exist­ing and alter­nate his­to­ries threat­en set­tler colo­nial ones: these are noth­ing new. [iv] If any­thing, Cop­per Harbor’s nar­ra­tives are sim­ply a more explic­it than usu­al artic­u­la­tion of the con­nec­tions between his­to­ries of van­ish­ing Indi­ans and nation­al progress that con­tin­ue to dom­i­nate US Amer­i­can state­ments about Native peo­ple. But as I write this in this sum­mer of mak­ing Amer­i­ca “great again” with pro­pos­als for bor­der walls and bans to pre­vent Mus­lims from enter­ing the US; of black men killed by police in Chica­go, Mil­wau­kee, Baton Rouge, and Min­neapo­lis; of Indige­nous men and women killed in Saskatchewan and Albu­querque; and of news reports des­ig­nat­ing Stand­ing Rock Sioux peo­ple protest­ing a pipeline on their reser­va­tion as “occu­piers” of their own lands, Cop­per Harbor’s ongo­ing insis­tence on set­tler his­to­ries can­not be seen as just a nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry throw­back. [v] Instead, the town’s his­to­ries par­tic­i­pate in an ongo­ing mode of visu­al­iz­ing time and belong­ing that con­tin­ues to feed con­tem­po­rary struc­tures of vio­lence. This struc­ture depends, just as it did in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, on set­tlers’ claim to be able to choose their own ori­gins and to dis­con­nect his­to­ry from dis­pos­ses­sion and from vio­lence against Indige­nous peo­ples and oth­er peo­ple of col­or to pre­serve and jus­ti­fy set­tler privileges.

In one response to the events of this sum­mer, activists have deployed social media as a tool for orga­niz­ing and for broad­ly expos­ing just how fre­quent, linked, and ongo­ing this vio­lence is. Both Black Lives Mat­ter and Idle No More—some of the most vis­i­ble move­ments protest­ing vio­lence against peo­ple of col­or and set­tler colonialism—spread news of their protests quick­ly and wide­ly using Twit­ter. [vi] But the use of media to respond to colo­nial­ist vio­lence isn’t new either: the activist uses to which Twit­ter, Face­book, and Insta­gram feeds have been put have a fore­run­ner in a set of nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry scrap­books com­piled by a Seneca man named Ely S. Parker.

A scrap­book might seem an unusu­al mate­r­i­al object to com­pare with social media. But scrap­books and social media alike present infor­ma­tion by accu­mu­lat­ing and stack­ing excerpts or clips in a cen­tral loca­tion that users can access in mul­ti­ple ways: lin­ear­ly, by read­ing the scrap­book from begin­ning to end, or scrolling through a Face­book feed; non­lin­ear­ly, by read­ing around in the scrap­book or on the feed; or by using a par­tic­u­lar excerpt as a plat­form out of the page to explore a top­ic in depth. Like Face­book and Twit­ter, scrap­books are, for­mal­ly, lists: they do not nec­es­sar­i­ly gen­er­ate their own con­tent but have as a key func­tion their abil­i­ty to arrange entries and objects next to one anoth­er. These media are non­syn­tac­tic, not ori­ent­ed by time. Instead, they posit a non-nar­ra­tive tem­po­ral­i­ty that links the dif­fer­ent months or days or weeks in which an event took place, com­press­ing the space and time between them.

In 1891, Ely S. Park­er, an adju­tant to Gen­er­al Ulysses S. Grant dur­ing the Civ­il War and the first Native Com­mis­sion­er of Indi­an Affairs in Grant’s admin­is­tra­tion (a post com­pa­ra­ble to the con­tem­po­rary posi­tion of Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Indi­an Affairs), col­lect­ed and arranged news­pa­per reports of the Wound­ed Knee Mas­sacre. [vii] On Decem­ber 29, 1890, U.S. sol­diers killed between 150–300 Lako­ta men, women, and chil­dren who had camped with their leader Big Foot near Wound­ed Knee Creek under a white flag. News reports man­u­fac­tur­ing sala­cious accounts of an immi­nent threat by “Sioux hos­tiles” cir­cu­lat­ed through reporters who had accom­pa­nied sol­diers to Pine Ridge Agency, on Lako­ta lands with­in the new­ly mint­ed state of South Dako­ta, where they had been sent to put down an alleged upris­ing (Fig. 3). Draw­ing from mul­ti­ple news­pa­pers, most­ly pub­lished in Chica­go, Park­er excerpt­ed and past­ed these sto­ries into a Mark Twain Scrap­book, a hefty bound book with print­ed page num­bers and blanks for an index, as well as pages pre-treat­ed with adhe­sives. Park­er includes no ratio­nale for his selec­tion and arrange­ment of news clip­pings, but the Wound­ed Knee Mas­sacre was the sub­ject of only one of his twelve scrap­books, now held at the New­ber­ry Library in Chica­go. He col­lect­ed thou­sands of news­pa­per arti­cles about Native Amer­i­cans, rang­ing from images of the 1893 World’s Columbian Expo­si­tion and local anti­quar­i­ans’ self-sat­is­fied tours of Ply­mouth Rock to smug notices regard­ing Dako­ta writer and physi­cian Charles Eastman’s mar­riage to the US Amer­i­can poet Elaine Goodale.


Fig. 3. Ely Samuel Park­er scrap­books. Pho­to Cour­tesy of The New­ber­ry Library, Chica­go. Call # Ayer MMS Park­er, Scrap­book 6.

When read suc­ces­sive­ly, the scrap­books pro­duce a tal­ly of pop­u­lar, often racist stereo­types of Native peo­ple that cir­cu­lat­ed in the media. Parker’s scrap­books rep­re­sent the Amer­i­can public’s fas­ci­na­tion with what one paper termed “Abo­rig­i­nal Frag­ments”: sto­ries and accounts of Native life, mate­r­i­al cul­ture, and his­to­ry. [viii] In this way, the scrap­books might seem to reflect their par­tic­i­pa­tion in and doc­u­men­ta­tion of what Bri­an Hochman has called the “ethno­graph­ic ori­gins of mod­ern media tech­nol­o­gy.” [ix] Focus­ing on the pho­to­graph and phono­graph, among oth­er tech­nolo­gies, Hochman argues that our con­tem­po­rary media have their ori­gins in sal­vage ethnog­ra­phy and in US Amer­i­cans’ con­vic­tion that Native peo­ples’ lives need­ed to be record­ed before they van­ished. Tech­nolo­gies like the cam­era, sign lan­guage, and phono­graph, among oth­ers, claimed to pro­tect Native peo­ple from time by iso­lat­ing them in a par­tic­u­lar his­tor­i­cal moment. [x] Indeed, Park­er col­lect­ed news sto­ries in a con­text in which artists, eth­nol­o­gists, anti­quar­i­ans, farm­ers, local boost­ers, and oth­ers found it both excit­ing and the most nat­ur­al thing in the world to col­lect arrow­heads from one’s field, trav­el through­out North Amer­i­ca to paint or to pho­to­graph Native peo­ple, or place human remains, dolls, and bead­ed purs­es next to one anoth­er in a small Mid­west­ern museum.

But Parker’s scrap­books, as anti­quat­ed and ana­logue as their pages might seem in com­par­i­son to smart phones and social media sites, offer con­cep­tu­al­iza­tions of time and of colonialism’s mate­ri­als that con­test the nar­ra­tives of Indige­nous van­ish­ing and set­tler inno­cence cir­cu­lat­ed in both the nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry and our own moment. Parker’s scrap­books inter­vene in the “ethno­graph­ic” work of mod­ern media by posit­ing time as some­thing one can manip­u­late. As he selects and arranges images, flips through the book in a non­lin­ear fash­ion, Park­er (and oth­er read­ers) make their own path through his­to­ry, even a his­to­ry cir­cum­scribed by the pop­u­lar media and dis­cours­es of van­ish­ing. [xi] Or, should one take a lin­ear route through scrap­book 6, the accounts of ten­sions at Pine Ridge Agency accu­mu­late as one turns the page, with clip­pings from Chica­go news­pa­pers report­ing “hos­tiles” com­ing in to sur­ren­der, “hos­tiles with­in range,” “Sioux sure to fight,” and a series of head­lines sug­gest­ing that the “Sioux” were delib­er­at­ing whether to fight or surrender.

In the mid­dle of these reports from Wound­ed Knee, Park­er pastes a long arti­cle about the Hotchkiss gun (Fig. 4). He arranges descrip­tions and illus­tra­tions of the “mod­ern instru­ments of war” over four pages which detail the gun’s tech­no­log­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties: its accu­ra­cy, its abil­i­ty to throw “explo­sive shells,” and ulti­mate­ly, its suc­cess con­vinc­ing Ghost Dancers that they were not pro­tect­ed from the US Army’s bul­lets. The arti­cle details the gun’s ammu­ni­tion, com­pares it to the Gatlin gun, and com­ments on poten­tial acci­dents involved in oper­at­ing the gun. It also notes that Chicagoans nar­row­ly missed see­ing its pow­er in “sweep­ing away a mob at the time of the Hay­mar­ket riot.” [xii]


Fig. 4. Ely Samuel Park­er scrap­books. Pho­to Cour­tesy of The New­ber­ry Library, Chica­go. Call # Ayer MMS Park­er, Scrap­book 6.

When the fir­ing start­ed at Wound­ed Knee, it wasn’t just rifles killing Big Foot and his peo­ple but also four Hochkiss guns with their explo­sive shells and vaunt­ed accu­ra­cy. The four scrap­book pages detail­ing the gun’s tech­nol­o­gy, inner parts, and ammu­ni­tion inter­vene in the build­ing pace of reports of Lako­ta “hos­til­i­ties.” Park­er pauses—and makes his read­ers pause too—before arti­cles titled “It’s a Real Sur­ren­der” and “Hos­tiles in a Pan­ic” and before reports and illus­tra­tions of the mas­sacre to think about a gun and its capa­bil­i­ties, its effect on the bod­ies of Lako­ta chil­dren, elder­ly peo­ple, and men and women. The four pages devot­ed to the gun take hold of time, slow it down, ask read­ers to live in the moment between uncer­tain­ty and mas­sacre. The pages urge read­ers to stop amid the onslaught of set­tler colo­nial anx­i­ety about “hos­tiles” on which the papers focus and to think instead, as Park­er must have, about Lako­ta fam­i­lies in the mid­dle of a cold win­ter on their way to Pine Ridge Agency for pro­tec­tion and of the four Hotchkiss guns on the hill above Big Foot’s camp.

Because lists are not nar­ra­tive, they’ve been the sort of object that lit­er­ary schol­ars often dis­re­gard for alleged­ly more “lit­er­ary” texts and that his­to­ri­ans often admire for their sup­posed abil­i­ty to get close to the past. But Parker’s scrap­books sug­gest that tex­tu­al and mate­r­i­al lists are more com­pli­cat­ed than descrip­tions of them as non-lit­er­ary or as doc­u­men­tary evi­dence might indi­cate. Lists, like Parker’s scrap­books, make no promis­es to tell a sto­ry or to resolve con­flict; instead, they sort, arrange, and order infor­ma­tion on the mate­r­i­al space of the page. “Lists do not com­mu­ni­cate,” as Cor­nelia Vis­mann argues, “they con­trol trans­fer oper­a­tions”; they “sort and engen­der cir­cu­la­tion.” [xiii] Focus­ing on these qual­i­ties, schol­ars have viewed lists as a key tran­si­tion between oral­i­ty and lit­er­a­cy, mark­ing their appear­ance as a culture’s ear­ly turn toward the per­ma­nen­cy and sta­bil­i­ty of writ­ing. [xiv] Yet Vis­mann argues that the list’s abil­i­ty to cir­cu­late infor­ma­tion links it not to the oral-lit­er­a­cy bina­ry but to admin­is­tra­tion and thus to law. Cre­at­ing lists, Vis­mann argues, legit­imizes and autho­rizes the state by pro­duc­ing a mate­r­i­al object that stands as a site of reg­u­la­tion, admin­is­tra­tion, and pow­er. [xv] More­over, because lists and the files they cre­ate both com­mu­ni­cate and doc­u­ment an act—“writing up while writ­ing along”—they take on a rep­u­ta­tion as objects that can relate the past with­out the obfus­ca­tion and decep­tion of nar­ra­tive. [xvi] Files offer infor­ma­tion not only about an event but also about the extra­ne­ous hap­pen­ings, speech­es, doc­u­ments, and so on that led up to that event. They seem to “captur[e] the imme­di­a­cy of speech acts and oth­er acts.” [xvii]

By per­form­ing the acts of sort­ing, fil­ing, and man­ag­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of lists, Parker’s scrap­books cre­ate an expan­sive record or file of US sto­ries about Native Amer­i­cans and specif­i­cal­ly about Wound­ed Knee. How­ev­er, they estab­lish a very dif­fer­ent rela­tion to the past and to pow­er than the one Vis­mann the­o­rizes. Rather than claim­ing to record and order the past, Parker’s scrap­books expose how his­to­ry is cre­at­ed through the cir­cu­la­tion of news reports and their rep­e­ti­tion of fears about “hos­tiles” or claims about Indi­an van­ish­ing. His lists also go beyond “con­trol­ling trans­fer oper­a­tions” or cir­cu­lat­ing infor­ma­tion. [xvi­ii] Instead, scrap­book 6 offers an alter­nate, mate­r­i­al space in which to grap­ple with the mas­sacre at Wound­ed Knee, one that exists along­side and at times in ten­sion with the spaces of the reser­va­tion, of Wound­ed Knee Creek, of a world’s fair, of board­ing schools. This alter­nate space rewrites dom­i­nant his­to­ries by locat­ing alter­nate caus­es for events and imag­in­ing alter­nate futures. Such futures are by no means utopi­an, as Parker’s Hotchkiss inter­lude shows; instead, they more often exca­vate US mil­i­tary and colo­nial vio­lence that reporters erased from accounts of Wound­ed Knee. [xix] The scrap­books also con­nect seem­ing­ly unre­lat­ed acts of vio­lence: the Hotchkiss gun becomes a link between the Wound­ed Knee mas­sacre and the Hay­mar­ket affair; it relates Potawato­mi and Lako­ta lands (or what news­pa­pers called Chica­go and South Dako­ta), police and mil­i­tary vio­lence against labor pro­test­ers and Lako­ta fam­i­lies. Parker’s scrap­books offer no answer to this vio­lence, but they also pro­vide no excuse to turn away. If any­thing, they ask read­ers to linger on these moments of vio­lence, to con­sid­er the jus­ti­fi­ca­tions by which it is per­pet­u­at­ed. It’s this lin­ger­ing, this moment when you real­ize that you’ve been read­ing about a Hotchkiss gun for four pages, that makes it impos­si­ble to read the suc­ces­sive reports of the mas­sacre as an iso­lat­ed inci­dent or as the con­se­quence of actions by “hos­tile” Lako­ta peo­ples. The scrap­book opens up spaces of rela­tion in the dom­i­nant his­to­ry told by news­pa­pers, and in doing so, it inter­venes in the lin­ear time of the mod­ern nation state, remap­ping his­tor­i­cal and spa­tial rela­tions among peo­ple and places claimed by the US and recon­nect­ing sto­ries of vio­lence, dis­pos­ses­sion, and nation building.

Against the sto­ries of cer­tain death and van­ish­ing that the dis­play cas­es in Cop­per Har­bor and news reports of Wound­ed Knee aim to pro­duce, activist uses of non-nar­ra­tive forms like lists and social media feeds dis­rupt the time­lines that the US and oth­er nation states cre­ate to dis­lo­cate the present from his­to­ries of colo­nial­ism, dis­pos­ses­sion, and racism. Cru­cial­ly, this dis­rup­tion is locat­ed not only in the pages of scrap­books or on dig­i­tal sites but also in read­ers’ and users’ inter­ac­tion with these sites. Read­ers of Parker’s scrap­books speed up and scram­ble time by link­ing the inven­tion and use of Hotchkiss guns with the mas­sacre at Wound­ed Knee and the Hay­mar­ket riot, in this way com­pli­cat­ing nar­ra­tives of vio­lent Lako­ta men and cer­tain US dom­i­nance. This sum­mer, in response to activism and protests, the Chica­go Police Depart­ment moved quick­ly to release footage show­ing a police shoot­ing of an unarmed black teenag­er, in effect speed­ing up the time of report­ing and account­abil­i­ty. [xx] The Dako­ta and oth­er tribes cur­rent­ly protest­ing the Dako­ta Access Pipeline’s planned route through the Stand­ing Rock Sioux Reser­va­tion inter­rupt oil com­pa­nies’ time­lines of extrac­tion and pro­duc­tion, while the Twit­ter and Face­book sto­ries about the protest dis­rupt­ed and con­test­ed the news cycles from which accounts of the protest remained large­ly absent for months. [xxi] These vary­ing tem­po­ral arrange­ments not only emerge out of lit­er­ary forms and tech­nolo­gies that cir­cu­late infor­ma­tion, they also offer pos­si­bil­i­ties for revis­ing that infor­ma­tion to account for the vio­lence on which North Amer­i­can set­tler his­to­ries rest.


[i] This treaty con­tained pro­vi­sions allow­ing the sig­na­to­ries to con­tin­ue to use the ced­ed lands for cer­tain pur­pos­es, but the state and fed­er­al gov­ern­ment gen­er­al­ly ignored these provisions.

[ii] Indige­nous his­to­ries of the Upper Penin­su­la long pre­ced­ed set­tler ones, often cir­cu­lat­ing in oral forms or being record­ed on mate­ri­als like cop­per plates. See William W. War­ren, His­to­ry of the Ojib­way Peo­ple (first pub­lished 1885, Min­neapo­lis: Min­neso­ta His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety Press, 2009), 53. More­over, sev­er­al Ojib­we men pub­lished writ­ten his­to­ries of their peo­ple after the Treaty of La Pointe in which they clear­ly con­tra­dict Cop­per Harbor’s claim that his­to­ry began in 1843. See War­ren, George Cop­way, The Tra­di­tion­al His­to­ry and Char­ac­ter­is­tic Sketch­es of the Ojib­way Nation (Lon­don, 1850), and Andrew J. Black­bird, His­to­ry of the Ottawa and Chippe­wa Indi­ans of Michi­gan (Ypsi­lan­ti, MI: 1887).

[iii] There are mul­ti­ple signs of this pres­ence and influ­ence: Keweenaw Bay Indi­an Com­mu­ni­ty is locat­ed an hour and a half from Cop­per Har­bor (; the local NPR sta­tion fea­tures reg­u­lar news seg­ments about the Com­mu­ni­ty. Read­ers of The Account may also be espe­cial­ly inter­est­ed in the poet­ry of Shirley Broz­zo, a poet from the Keweenaw Bay Indi­an Com­mu­ni­ty. See Broz­zo, “Cir­cle of Life,” in Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Con­tem­po­rary Ojib­we Poet­ry, ed. Kim­ber­ly Blaeser (Bemid­ji, MN: Loon­feath­er Press, 2011), 37.

[iv] For one study of such nar­ra­tives, see Jodi Byrd, The Tran­sit of Empire: Indige­nous Cri­tiques of Colo­nial­ism (Min­neapo­lis: Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 2011).

[v] Jack Healy, “Occu­py­ing the Prairie: Ten­sions Rise as Tribes Move to Block a Pipeline,” New York Times 23 Aug. 2016,

[vi] For cov­er­age of some of these activist uses of social media, see Bijan Stephens, “Social Media Helps Black Lives Mat­ter Fight the Pow­er,” Wired (Nov. 2015),; Eliz­a­beth Day, “#Black­Lives­Mat­ter: the birth of a new civ­il rights move­ment,” The Guardian 19 July 2015,; and Shari Nar­ine Sweet­grass, “Social media major dri­ver in Idle No More move­ment,” Abo­rig­i­nal Mul­ti-Media Soci­ety 30, no. 11 (2013),

[vii] Park­er was the first Native Amer­i­can Com­mis­sion­er of Indi­an Affairs; he worked through­out his tenure in the posi­tion to reform fed­er­al Indi­an pol­i­cy, espe­cial­ly by insist­ing that the US hon­or its treaties. For an excel­lent study of Parker’s work, see C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa, Crooked Paths to Allot­ment: The Fight Over Fed­er­al Indi­an Pol­i­cy After The Civ­il War (Chapel Hill: Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na Press, 2012).

[viii] Ely Samuel Park­er scrap­books, scrap­book 6, Edward E. Ayer Col­lec­tion. The New­ber­ry Library, Chica­go, IL.

[ix] Bri­an Hochman, Sav­age Preser­va­tion: The Ethno­graph­ic Ori­gins of Mod­ern Media Tech­nol­o­gy (Min­neapo­lis, Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neapo­lis Press, 2014).

[x] Ibid., xvi.

[xi] On scrap­books’ abil­i­ty to offer alter­nate his­to­ries, see Nicole Tonkovich, The Allot­ment Plot: Alice C. Fletch­er, E. Jane Gay, and Nez Perce Sur­vivance (Lin­coln: Uni­ver­si­ty of Nebras­ka Press, 2012).

[xii] Sunday Inter Ocean, 18 Jan. 1891, 9.

[xiii] Cor­nelia Vis­mann, Files: Law and Media Tech­nol­o­gy, trans. Geof­frey Winthrop-Young (Stan­ford: Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2008), 6. As Ellen Gru­ber Gar­vey has point­ed out, nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry news­pa­per clip­ping scrap­books offered a form of “active read­ing” that made white mid­dle class read­ers into agents who could change the mean­ing of their “saved items” (47). Scrap­books allowed read­ers to “save, man­age, and reprocess infor­ma­tion” (6), act­ing as “fil­ing sys­tems” that record­ed how peo­ple read (4). See Ellen Gru­ber Gar­vey, Writ­ing With Scis­sors: Amer­i­can Scrap­books from the Civ­il War to the Harlem Renais­sance (New York: Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2013). See also James Del­bour­go and Staffan Müller-Wille, “Intro­duc­tion,” Isis 103, no. 4 (2012): 713, who com­ment that lists “inven­to­ried and orga­nized the accu­mu­lat­ed world.”

[xiv] See Wal­ter J. Ong, Oral­i­ty and Lit­er­a­cy: The Tech­nol­o­giz­ing of the Word (New York: Rout­ledge, 2012), chap. 4.

[xv] Vis­mann, xii.

[xvi] Ibid., 8.

[xvii] Ibid., 9.

[xvi­ii] Ibid., 6.

[xix] Like­wise, for all their activist uses, social media have also been the sites of harass­ment and much racist, xeno­pho­bic, and sex­ist com­men­tary. Their pos­si­bil­i­ty as activist tools is, like Parker’s scrap­books’ rela­tion to news­pa­pers, always in con­flict with ongo­ing set­tler colo­nial and racist nar­ra­tives and his­to­ries. On the ways that dig­i­tal media repro­duce colo­nial­ist terms and rela­tions to Native Amer­i­cans, see Jodi A. Byrd, “Dig­i­tal 2.0: Dig­i­tal Natives, Polit­i­cal Play­ers, and the Pow­er of Sto­ries,” Stud­ies in Amer­i­can Indi­an Lit­er­a­ture 26, no. 2 (2014): 55–64.

[xx] See Annie Sweeney, Jere­my Gorner, and Alexan­dra Chachke­vitch, “Videos cap­ture dra­mat­ic police shootout with car­jack­ing sus­pect,” Chica­go Tri­bune 18 Aug. 2016,

[xxi] See the hash­tag #noDAPL for example.



Black­bird, Andrew J. His­to­ry of the Ottawa and Chippe­wa Indi­ans of Michi­gan. Ypsi­lan­ti, MI: 1887.

Broz­zo, Shirley. “Cir­cle of Life.” In Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Con­tem­po­rary Ojib­we Poet­ry. Edit­ed by Kim­ber­ly Blaeser, 37. Bemid­ji, MN: Loon­feath­er Press, 2011.

Byrd, Jodi A. Dig­i­tal 2.0: Dig­i­tal Natives, Polit­i­cal Play­ers, and the Pow­er of Sto­ries,” Stud­ies in Amer­i­can Indi­an Lit­er­a­ture 26, no. 2 (2014): 55–64.

—. The Tran­sit of Empire: Indige­nous Cri­tiques of Colo­nial­ism. Min­neapo­lis: Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 2011.

Cop­way, George. The Tra­di­tion­al His­to­ry and Char­ac­ter­is­tic Sketch­es of the Ojib­way Nation. Lon­don, 1850.

Day, Eliz­a­beth. “#Black­Lives­Mat­ter: the birth of a new civ­il rights move­ment.” The Guardian, 19 July 2015. Accessed Sep­tem­ber 1, 2016.

Del­bour­go, James and Staffan Müller-Wille. “Intro­duc­tion.” Isis Focus: List­ma­nia 103, no. 4 (2012): 710–15.

Gar­vey, Ellen Gru­ber. Writ­ing With Scis­sors: Amer­i­can Scrap­books from the Civ­il War to the Harlem Renais­sance. New York: Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2013.

Genetin-Pilawa, C. Joseph. Crooked Paths to Allot­ment: The Fight Over Fed­er­al Indi­an Pol­i­cy After The Civ­il War. Chapel Hill: Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na Press, 2012.

Healy, Jack. “Occu­py­ing the Prairie: Ten­sions Rise as Tribes Move to Block a Pipeline,” New York Times 23 Aug. 2016. Accessed Sep­tem­ber 1, 2016.

Hochman, Bri­an. Sav­age Preser­va­tion: The Ethno­graph­ic Ori­gins of Mod­ern Media Tech­nol­o­gy. Min­neapo­lis: Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neapo­lis Press, 2014.

Ong, Wal­ter J. Oral­i­ty and Lit­er­a­cy: The Tech­nol­o­giz­ing of the Word. New York: Rout­ledge, 2012.

Park­er, Ely Samuel. Scrap­book 6. Edward E. Ayer Col­lec­tion. The New­ber­ry Library, Chica­go, IL.

Stephens, Bijan. “Social Media Helps Black Lives Mat­ter Fight the Pow­er,” Wired (Nov. 2015). Accessed Sep­tem­ber 1, 2016.

Sun­day Inter Ocean, 18 Jan. 1891.

Sweeney, Annie, Jere­my Gorner, and Alexan­dra Chachke­vitch. “Videos cap­ture dra­mat­ic police shootout with car­jack­ing sus­pect.” Chica­go Tri­bune 18 Aug. 2016. Accessed Sep­tem­ber 1, 2016.

Sweet­grass, Shari Nar­ine. “Social media major dri­ver in Idle No More move­ment.” Abo­rig­i­nal Mul­ti-Media Soci­ety 30, no. 11 (2013). Accessed Sep­tem­ber 1, 2016.

Tonkovich, Nicole. The Allot­ment Plot: Alice C. Fletch­er, E. Jane Gay, and Nez Perce Sur­vivance. Lin­coln: Uni­ver­si­ty of Nebras­ka Press, 2012.

Vis­mann, Cor­nelia. Files: Law and Media Tech­nol­o­gy. Trans­lat­ed by Geof­frey Winthrop Young. Stan­ford: Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2008.

War­ren, William W. His­to­ry of the Ojib­way Peo­ple. 1885. Min­neapo­lis: Min­neso­ta His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety Press, 2009.



Kel­ly Wise­cup is an assis­tant pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty. She is at work on a book called Assem­bled Rela­tions: Col­lec­tion, Com­pi­la­tion, and Native Amer­i­can Writ­ing, about the strate­gies with which eigh­teenth- and nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry Native Amer­i­can writ­ers inter­vened in colo­nial col­lect­ing projects. She is the author of Med­ical Encoun­ters: Knowl­edge and Iden­ti­ty in Ear­ly Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­tures (Uni­ver­si­ty of Mass­a­chu­setts Press, 2013) and essays in The Native Amer­i­can and Indige­nous Stud­ies Jour­nal, Ear­ly Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture, Ear­ly Amer­i­can Stud­ies, and Atlantic Stud­ies.


Sarah Sillin, Guest Crit­i­cism Edi­tor, received her Ph.D. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land and is cur­rent­ly a vis­it­ing assis­tant pro­fes­sor of Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture at Get­tys­burg Col­lege. Her book project, enti­tled Glob­al Sym­pa­thy: Rep­re­sent­ing Nine­teenth-Cen­tu­ry Amer­i­cans’ For­eign Rela­tions, explores how writ­ers envi­sioned ear­ly Amer­i­cans’ ties to the larg­er world through their depic­tions of friend­ship and kin­ship. Sillin’s essays have appeared in Mul­ti-Eth­nic Lit­er­a­ture of the Unit­ed States and Lit­er­a­ture of the Ear­ly Amer­i­can Repub­lic.