Join the Lehman Center for American History in a Conversation with Professor Michael Witgen about his New Book, Seeing Red: Indigenous Land, American Expansion, and the Political Economy of Plunder in North America.
Against long odds, the Anishinaabeg resisted removal, retaining thousands of acres of their homeland in what is 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 U.S. development in the Old Northwest. But, as Michael Witgen demonstrates, 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 U.S. civil society. Telling the stories of mixed-race traders and missionaries, tribal leaders and territorial governors, Witgen challenges our assumptions about the inevitability of U.S. expansion.
Deeply researched and passionately written, Seeing Red will command attention from readers who are invested in the enduring issues of equality, equity, and national belonging at its core.
“Brilliant and engrossing. Challenging the dominant narrative of American history, which assumes a rapid decline in Native power after the War of 1812, Witgen charts Indigenous persistence in the Old Northwest despite relentless pressure from both the United States and Canada. Witgen’s compelling analysis of ‘the political economy of plunder’ transforms our view of settler colonialism.” -- Christina Snyder, Pennsylvania State University
This event is part of the Lehman Center for American History's "Historians in the Archives" series.
Michael Witgen is a professor in the Department of History and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University, and he is a citizen of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. His publications include An Infinity of Nations: How the Native New World Shaped Early North America, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), and “American Indians in World History,” in the Oxford Handbook of American Indian History (Cambridge: Oxford University Press, April 2016).