Standing Together: On the Brink of History Tuesday, Aug 23 2016 

An important thought-provoking piece by Paul McKenzie-Jones!


We are currently witnessing the largest collaboration of North American Indigenous nations in a generation, coming together to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux to protect water and land resources against yet more oil pipeline expansions in North Dakota. However, when I say we are witnessing, I mean those of us who follow the relevant social media accounts, Facebook pages, or have friends and family who are there, at the blockade. What is happening in North Dakota is a movement of historic proportions, a display of Indigenous unity not seen since the Red Power era of the 1960’s and 70’s, and yet to the larger public, this event is invisible, unreported, and unnoticed, much like Indigenous people themselves for the past century or so.

I was originally planning to write a blog about national monuments and the erasure of American Indians through commemoration, and I may still do so, but…

View original post 1,235 more words

Red & Black Atlantics Tuesday, Feb 2 2016 

Annual Conference on Transatlantic History
Call for Papers
17th Annual International Graduate Student Conference
on Transatlantic History

University of Texas at Arlington

Date of Conference: October 20-22, 2016

Deadline for Abstract Submissions: April 1, 2016
Keynote Speakers:

Jane Landers, Vanderbilt University
Jace Weaver, University of Georgia

The Transatlantic History Student Organization in collaboration with the Barksdale Lecture Series, the History Department, and the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Texas at Arlington are sponsoring the Seventeenth Annual International Graduate Student Conference on Transatlantic History.

Transatlantic history examines the circulation and interaction of people, goods, and ideas between and within any of the four continents surrounding the Atlantic basin between the time of the first Atlantic contacts in the 1400s and the present day. Situated primarily in the fields of both social and cultural history, its approaches are problem-oriented in scope, and highlighted by comparative and transnational frameworks.

We invite paper and panel submissions that are historical, geographical, anthropological, literary, sociological, and cartographic in nature that fall within the scope of transatlantic studies from both graduate students and young scholars.  We will accept submissions for papers written in English, French, Spanish, and German.

The theme of this year’s conference is the exploration of alternative genealogies of Transatlantic History, examining several alternative roots/routes of our field. We therefore invite presentations on Red and Black Atlantics, meaning inspired by Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic, Jace Weaver’s more recent Red Atlantic, as well as the radical working-class “red” Atlantic outlined by scholars such as David Armitage and exemplified by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker’s The Many Headed Hydra.

Topics may include but are not limited to the following:

African Diaspora
Connected Indigenes
Anti-colonial movements and decolonization
Socialism, Anarchism, and Communism
Slavery and reparations
Anti-slavery and abolitionism
Transatlantic solidarity struggles
Women’s and Feminist movements
Alternate intellectual genealogies
Radical and social movement networks

We also seek to explore and further establish shared terminology, methodologies, and defining parameters as they pertain to the field of transatlantic history. This conference has become an interdisciplinary and intercontinental meeting place where such ideas can converge into a common conversation.

Therefore, we also welcome papers on:

New World Encounters
Atlantic Empires
Transatlantic networks
Making of nation-states
Transnational spaces
Transatlantic migrations
Diaspora studies
Collective memory
Identity construction
Transatlantic cuisine and consumption
Intercultural transfer and transfer studies
Transnational families
Teaching transnational history

Selected participants’ papers will be considered for publication in Traversea, the peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal in transatlantic history operated by doctoral students as a joint project between THSO and the doctoral program in transatlantic history at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Submission of individual paper abstracts should be approximately three hundred words in length and should be accompanied by an abbreviated, maximum one-page, curriculum vita.  Panel proposals (3-4 people) should include titles and abstracts of panel as a whole as well as each individual paper.  Deadline for submission is April 1, 2016.  We will notify authors of accepted papers by April 15, 2016.

A competitive stipend/scholarship is available to assist eligible international presenters with travel expenses. Winners will be determined by the conference committee.

The Conference Organizing Committee is composed of Lydia Towns, Jacob Jones, Gina Bennett, Jacque Tinkler, Robert Caldwell, Stephanie Sulik, Stacy Swiney, and Austin Loignon. Please direct submissions and questions to Lydia Towns.

Follow us on Twitter: TransatlanticHistory #THSO2016

Ho Minti Society promotes cultural awareness Sunday, Jul 5 2015 


HO MINTI is Choctaw for “y’all come.” The organization promotes cultural awareness, service, community organizing, and education relating to the Choctaw-Apache Community.

Over the past year, the non-profit organization has held monthly activities including beading and pine needle basketry classes, a bream tournament for children, a workshops on making moccasins and gourds and participated in a number of area events.The organization and our activities are open to both Native and non-Native supporters.


at SRA

bream 1 bream 2 bream3

We call for a coming back together and returning to traditional American Indian ways of knowing and doing. The name also suggests a kind of in-gathering and renewal that we believe is necessary that our nation and culture to both survive and prosper.

The purpose of the group is to promote CULTURAL AWARENESS, SERVICE, COMMUNITY ORGANIZING, and EDUCATION in a way that respects traditional knowledge, the breadth of our history and heritage, encourages arts and crafts. We organize regular activities for members and the community.

We acknowledge the Choctaw-Apache Community of Ebarb, Inc. and the Choctaw-Apache tribal council as the governmental entity for the tribal nation to which most of us belong. However, the Ho Minti Society is a Louisiana non-profit organization that operates completely independently from the tribal government. Full membership is open to those eligible for enrollment in the tribe. We also encourage all American Indians and non-Native supporters living in the region to become associate members.


The HO MINTI SOCIETY is committed to the following four pillars:

1) Respect for traditional knowledge and cultural vitalization.

2) Reinvigorating cultural knowledge in everyday life through monthly cultural
teachings and sharing of cultural knowledge as well as annual meetings.

3) Supporting historical and heritage knowledge through historical and ethnological research and publications.

4) Supporting traditional arts and crafts and artistic development.

If you agree with our mission and our vision, we encourage you to join us!

You can find out more about HoMinti Soceity on Facebook.


Decolonizing North America (review of two books offering Native perspective on North American history) Tuesday, Sep 2 2014 

De-colonizing North America
— Robert Caldwell (First published in the journal Against the Current, 172 Sept.-Oct. 2014)

The Inconvenient Indian:
A Curious Account of Native People in North America
By Thomas King.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
2012, 287 pages, $24.95.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Boston: Beacon Press, 2014, 296 pages, $27.95.

TWO NEW BOOKS, Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, offer American Indian perspectives on the history of North America.

Award-winning novelist King boldly ignores the colonizers’ boundaries that he traverses in daily life to take on both Canada and the United States, offering compelling conversations and vignettes that fuse to form an alternative, story-based account of the past. Historian Dunbar-Ortiz takes a different approach, an historical synthesis that challenges mainstream history of the United States head-on, providing ruthless critique and call for a total re-conceptualization of U.S. history.

The Inconvenient Indian in many ways follows an indigenous oral tradition narrative. The book details historical relations between white culture and indigenous peoples in North America. King, who was born in the United States but lives in Canada, notes that many tribes’ territories spanned the present-day border. He observes differences in law and tradition between the two countries, but is not limited by the geographical boundaries.

This book, which is virtually unknown in the United States outside of Native American Studies, has been a Canadian bestseller. In early 2014, it won the prestigious National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and the RBC Taylor Prize.

King’s stories offer a circular rather than linear form of history; the book is not chronological in sequence. It is about the past (and present) but doesn’t attempt to be a history book. King telescopes between details and generalities with more attention to engaging the reader than offering empirical precision. The book has no footnotes and doesn’t pretend to be authoritative or exhaustive. The author is happy to offer anecdotes from his personal experience with a huge dose of humor.
Dead, Live, and Legal

King writes of three kinds of Indians: dead, live, and legal. Dead Indians are what many North Americans imagine when they hear Indian. Live Indians are frustrating because they work on a construction site, in the professions, or like King, the university.

But the most frustrating Indians are legal ones with land claims, treaties, and organized into indigenous governments:

“The Legal Indian was one of those errors in judgment that North America made and has been trying to correct for the past 150 years.”

Of course, all live Indians aren’t “legal.” In the United States, only enrolled citizens of federally recognized tribes” are legal, and in Canada, “status Indians” fit this category. But these “legal Indians” represent only a fraction of the actual indigenous people in North America. The legal framework that created them was and is part of a divide-and-conquer strategy created in the 19th century by the U.S. and Canadian governments.

King relates that overall blood quantum often determines access to U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs programs, and while marriages between members of two different tribes are common, their children might still lack blood quantum requirements to be a citizen of either of their parents’ tribes.

In addition to the author’s compelling policy arguments, the book critically examines a number of popular but damaging stereotypes. It offers ample examples of the double standards in cultural expectations set for white people versus First Nations peoples.

One such example revolves around the use/abuse of alcohol: “In North America, White drunks tend to be invisible, whereas people of color who drink to excess are not. In fact, White drunks can be amusing… Dean Martin, Red Skelton, W.C. Fields, John Wayne, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, …Winston Churchill, Boris Yeltsin, George Bush, Daniel Patrick Moynihan” are noteworthy examples. (187)

King’s method and style is what he calls “a series of conversations and arguments” that he has been having with himself and others most of his adult life” that “draws more on storytelling techniques than historiography,” but the book is “fraught with history.” (xii)

King makes important observation about history, such as “most of us think that history is the past. It’s not. History is the stories we tell about the past.” History is not neutral or benign. (2-3) He reminds us that one of history’s grand maxims, “you can’t judge the past by the present,” is both convenient and specious. “Perhaps,” he says, “it is unfair to judge the past by the present, but it is also necessary.” (265)
Critical History

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States focuses almost exclusively on the North American territory claimed by the United States (although her first chapter includes a brief introduction to various “indigenous high cultures” of Mexico).

Dunbar-Ortiz is a feminist, revolutionary and historian. She grew up in rural Oklahoma, daughter of a sharecropper and half-Indian mother. The stories of her paternal grandfather, a white settler, farmer and veterinarian who had been a Socialist Party member and labor activist with the Industrial Workers of the World in Oklahoma in the first decades of 20th century, inspired her to a lifelong commitment to activism.

She married and moved to San Francisco at the age of 18, and attended San Francisco State College, eventually completing a doctorate in history at UCLA. She has been furthering the fields of Native American Studies and Ethnic Studies and been active with the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the International Indian Treaty Council since the early 1970s.

Her first published book, The Great Sioux Nation: An Oral History of the Sioux Nation and its Struggle for Sovereignty, was published in 1977. That was followed by Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico, 1680-1980 and Indians of the Americas: Human Rights and Self-Determination.

More recently she has published Red Dirt: Growing up Okie, memoirs of her early life, Outlaw Woman, a memoir of her antiwar and radical activism of the 1960s and ’70s, and Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, which chronicles U.S.-sponsored terror inflicted on the people of Nicaragua following the 1979 revolution and 1981 election of the left-wing Sandinista government.

The highly engaging An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States is NOT an attempt to tell the history of the many indigenous nations who have lived within what is now claimed by the United States, but rather a critical history of the U.S. from an indigenous perspective.

While the book is a history, it connects seamlessly to present struggles in Indian Country. At just over 200 pages of text for the body of the book, organized into eleven chapters, it is quite digestible. Dunbar-Ortiz is to be commended in that unlike many other books of its kind, the book considers class relations both historically and in contemporary society.

The book displays exemplary politics, drawing heavily from postcolonial studies, explaining class, dependency theory, comprador class, and genocide both theoretically and in historical context. Ortiz also offers a new periodization for U.S. history overall, as well as one for the genocide waged against American Indians: The Jacksonian Era, California Gold Rush, Post-Civil War “Indian Wars,” and the 1950s Termination Period. Her explanation of genocide makes the important point that genocide is often incorrectly reduced to mean disappearance.

No synthesis of this scope could offer minute detail, there are but some important omissions, especially when the details run counter to Ortiz’s main assertion.

While she does explain the phenomenon of slave-owning and pro-Confederate elites from the “Five Civilized Tribes,” she doesn’t mention the contribution of certain tribes who acted as foot-soldiers to the Anglo-American genocide.

Sometimes she fails to explain historical fracturing of tribes. She seems to confuse the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, removed after the so-called Seminole Wars, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, comprised of descendants of those Seminoles who continued to live in the Everglades after the period of Indian Removal. She writes: “…much later (in 1957) the U.S. government designated them an ‘Indian Tribe.’ The Seminoles were one of the “Five Civilized Tribes ordered to Indian Territory.” (101)

Some inaccuracies in the advance copy are more glaring. Puerto Ricans would disagree with her assertion that Columbus never “set foot on any territory ever claimed by the United States.” Lastly, when discussing land, territory, and reservations, she erroneously conflates the number of Federally Acknowledged Tribes with “Indigenous groups.” (11)

Despite these concerns, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States should be on everyone’s fall reading list.
Destroying Myths

Both books are well-written and engaging. Those in literary circles will be more likely to read King’s The Inconvenient Indian, while historians are more likely to come across Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, but these two books complement each other nicely.

On the whole, American Indians and First Nation people know a lot more about European culture and colonial history of North America than white North Americans know about indigenous culture.

One need not look further than the volume of writing on the Washington Redskins controversy to see how clueless some people are about the brutality of the Euro-American colonial project. And after reading these books, one cannot but conclude that for Natives, the colonial era is now.

September/October 2014, ATC 172

14th Annual International Graduate Student Conference on Transatlantic History Thursday, Apr 17 2014 

Report on last year’s International Graduate Student Conference on Transatlantic History

Border Crossings and Boundaries: How Apaches Defied Geographical and Cultural Borders Wednesday, Mar 19 2014 

The 118th Annual Meeting of the Texas State Historical Association met from March 6-8 in San Antonio Texas.  I organized the panel for Session 37, entitled: Border Crossings and Boundaries: How the Apaches Defied Geographical and Cultural Borders.


The participants and paper titles for that panel were as follows:

Alan Gallay, presiding, Texas Christian University

Relocation and Resilience: Lipan Adaptation to Spanish Conquest in the Texas-Coahuila Borderlands, Matthew Babcock, University of North Texas at Dallas

Apaches in Louisiana?: The Ebarb Community’s Lipan Connections,Robert B. Caldwell Jr., University of Texas at Arlington

Texas Ranger: Marginalized in the Borderlands, Daniel Castro Romero Jr., University of Texas at El Paso

Conference website:


19th Annual UT Arlington Powwow a resounding success Wednesday, Feb 26 2014 

IMG_0424IMG_0282 IMG_0287 IMG_0290 IMG_0294 IMG_0301 IMG_0302 IMG_0304 IMG_0307 IMG_0323 IMG_0346 IMG_0349 IMG_0350 IMG_0353 IMG_0379 IMG_0381 IMG_0383 IMG_0391 IMG_0422 IMG_0428 IMG_0448 IMG_0451The UT Arlington Native American Student Association hosted its most successful and well-attended powwow yet on February 22, 2014

UTA 2014 PowwowProgram

Many other people took great photos of the event as well. I haven’t seen a video, but here is a video of the UT Arlington 18th Annual Powwow, Feb. 2013. The 20th Annual will be on Feb 28, 2015. I hope to see you there!

Tamale featured in Louisiana Cultural Vistas Saturday, Feb 8 2014 

I was interviewed by University of New Orleans history professor and public history coordinator Michael Mizell-Nelson’s for a column on Louisiana Foodways, His article for the Winter 2013-2014 Louisiana Cultural Vistas is called “Tracing the Tamale.”   


Choctaw-Apache exhibits in Louisaina Sports Hall of Fame/NW LA History Museum Sunday, Jun 30 2013 

This past Saturday, June 29, I attended a brunch at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum.   As an historian I was mostly interested in the small history portion upstairs. As a member of the Choctaw-Apache Tribal Council I was interested in all things relating to our culture and past.

The vast majority of the museum is sports-related and will be of interest to sports enthusiasts. Some of you know that Greg Procell was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1988, based on his record as leading all-time scorer in high school basketball in the United States.[0]=Procell&back=inductee There is a plaque in the new museum, but I was unable to find any associated memorabilia in the high school basketball section.

Less than half of the upstairs is devoted to regional history and contemporary culture. I was very pleased that most of the artifacts and signage portrayed our tribe in a positive and historically-accurate manner. thanks to Charles Chaimberlain, former historian at the Louisiana State Museum for getting things right. Our tribe’s main interpretive panel follows the one for the Caddo Nation.

CAE SignboardOn the other side of the room the late Ruby Parrie’s hand-knotted rosary is in a case with other artifacts from tribes and cultural groups in the area


Continuing traditions

The hallmark artifact from our tribe is Joe Foster Paddie’s dugout canoe, which is on loan to the museum from Chief John W. Procell. The canoe and label is visible, but partially obstructed by a vertical display of regional folkways.

Dugout photo by Charles Chamberlain

JFPaddieBoat Boat Text

My only complaint is the text to a small panel with a good photo of Rhonda Remedies Gauthier cooking tamales from scratch. The panel correctly identifies her as being from Zwolle, but incorrectly identifies tamales as an indication of Spanish traditions. This often repeated but false explanation of the tamale is something I’ve been concerned with for some time, and hopefully my forthcoming book celebrating Choctaw-Apache foodways will help correct the public misconception . As anyone who has been to Spain will attest, they know nothing about tamales. Tamales are indigenous foods of North America, including the U.S. south and southwest and Mexico. The only significant Spanish contribution to tamales was to bring hogs to the western hemisphere, thereby offering a new ingredient to the ancient food.

But tamale text aside, I highly suggest visiting the museum. The museum is open Tuesdays- Saturdays 10 AM- 4:30 PM and Sundays from 1-5 PM. Admission is $5 for adults, and free for children 12 and younger. The visit will prove more exciting if you enjoy sports history, but even if you’d like to see the tribe’s artifacts in a museum,  it will be worth the drive to Natchitoches.

Robert Caldwell

Great year for Native American Student Association at UT Arlington Saturday, May 4 2013 

I was honored to receive the Organization President Appreciation Award at UT Arlington Multicultural Affairs’ Diversity Awards Ceremony for my service as president of the Native American Student Association. NASA has been fortunate this year to have continuous support from Native alumni, consistent, great advice from our advisors, and and a small but very dedicated group of core members.

Our powwow has become a critical part of the North Texas Native and non-Native community, profiled this year in, FW Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News, Beyond Bows and Arrows Radio Show, the Buffalo News as well as the UTA Shorthorn.  This amazing year follows up on last year’s Outstanding Contribution to the Greater Community by a Student Organization Award given by UTA Student Governance.

I congratulate the new officers for 2013-2014: Stephanie Matthews, President; Harold Rogers, Vice President;  Matthew Schneider, Secretary; Benjamin Honea ,Treasurer. I look forward to an exciting year of NASA activities and a wonderful powwow on February  22, 2014.

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