Michael John WitgenJul 28, 2022
Indigenous Land, American Expansion, and the Political Economy of Plunder in North America
Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press 2021
Against long odds, the Anishinaabeg resisted removal, retaining much of their land in the Old Northwest—what’s now Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Their success rested partly on their roles as sellers of natural resources and buyers of trade goods, which made them key players in the political economy of plunder that drove white settlement and US development in the region. But, as Michael Witgen demonstrates in Seeing Red: Indigenous Land, American Expansion, and the Political Economy of Plunder in North America (Omohundro Institute/UNC Press, 2021), the credit for Native persistence rested with the Anishinaabeg themselves. Outnumbering white settlers well into the nineteenth century, they leveraged their political savvy to advance a dual citizenship that enabled mixed-race tribal members to lay claim to a place in US civil society. Telling the stories of mixed-race traders and missionaries, tribal leaders and territorial governors, Witgen challenges our assumptions about the inevitability of US expansion.
John Cable is assistant professor of history at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia. He earned the Ph.D. in history at Florida State University in 2020.