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Native American Scholarship

Cari Carpenter | Associate Prof. of English

Cari Carpenter

Professor Cari Carpenter is the author of two books on the Indigenous literary history and is working on a third around Cherokee writer Ora Eddleman Reed. 

Carpenter’s first book, Seeing Red: Anger, Sentimentality, and American Indians (2008), studies early Native American women writers and the task of articulating a legitimate anger in the nineteenth century as doubly challenging for the first published American Indian women, who were met not only with these stereotypes of “savage” rage but with social proscriptions against female anger. The negotiations of three early American Indian women—Sophia Alice Callahan (Muscogee), Emily Pauline Johnson (Mohawk), and Sarah Winnemucca (Northern Paiute)—take center stage in this book. 

This book treats anger as a system of relation: a mark of the connection (or distance) between self and community that is always informed by race and gender. The Newspaper Warrior: Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins’s Campaign for American Indian Rights 1864-1891 (2015) presents a selection of newspaper items by or about Winnemucca, from her 1864 performances in San Francisco to her death in 1891. 

Carpenter’s most recent project focuses on Ora Eddleman Reed (1880-1968), a mixed-blood Cherokee writer who edited an important newspaper of Indian Country at the turn of the twentieth century, wrote a number of short stories and essays, and published the work of other Native American authors. This book, forthcoming with the University of Nebraska Press, includes never-before-published works of Eddleman Reed’s thanks to Carpenter’s serendipitous work with her granddaughter, Betty Groth. Groth generously supplied critical editions of the Indian Territory newspaper Twin Territories, an unpublished novel and play, and several other significant documents. This book promises to enhance our understanding of an early Native American author before that work disappears. Only about half of the newspapers remain in existence—either in libraries or in possession of Betty or her sister, and much of her creative work has remained unpublished. This book, then, offers a significant means of preserving this precarious history of an early Native American writer.

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Kelly Watson | Assistant Prof. of Women’s and Gender Studies 

Kelly Watson

WVU Native American Studies Instructor and Service Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Kelly Watson has published her research on the life of Mary Kittamaquund Brent, the so-called “Pocahontas of Maryland,” within the larger context of intercultural diplomacy in seventeenth-century Maryland. Watson argues in the article, “Mary Kittamaquund Brent, ‘the Pocahontas of Maryland:’ Sex, Marriage and Diplomacy in the 17th century Chesapeake,” Early American Studies (Winter 2021), that the marriage between Mary, an eleven-year-old girl and the daughter of the Tayac (chief) of the Piscataway Confederacy, and Giles Brent, a forty-year-old member of a wealthy English Catholic family, demonstrates that sex and reproduction were key strategies for establishing diplomatic relationships between groups and for securing power in a particularly tumultuous time. Illuminating Mary Kittamaquund Brent’s position as an embodied locus of power struggles between Chesapeake tribes and Anglo-Marylanders reveals  both the role of Indigenous women in diplomacy and the importance of kinship in interethnic alliances. Watson’s article provides a brief background of Piscataway and Maryland colonial history, contextualizes the marriage of Giles and Mary Kittamaquund Brent, analyzes the place of sex and reproduction in western shore diplomacy, and considers Mary Kittamaquund Brent’s place in the history of the seventeenth-century Chesapeake.

Like many other Chesapeake Native Nations in the 17th century, the members of the Piscataway Confederacy found themselves in an increasingly hostile environment. Their communities faced threats from English settlers and other Native Nations who struggled for supremacy in the region. In the face of an unwelcoming land in the east, most members of the Piscataway confederacy fled into Appalachia in the late 17th/early 18th centuries. They hoped to find a refuge among the dense forests and mountains.

Descendants of Piscataway Confederacy are organized into two tribal groups: The Piscataway Conoy Tribe and the Piscataway Indian Nation. Both groups obtained state-level tribal recognition in Maryland in 2012.

Read more about Prof. Watson’s work