“From Performance to Politics: Transatlantic Indigenous Travelers at the Turn of the Twentieth Century”
In 1850, Ojibwa writer and lecturer Kahgegagahbowh, remembered more broadly as Methodist preacher George Copway, travelled through and later published his perspective on Germany, where he attended the Frankfurt World Peace Congress as a representative of the so-called Christian Indians of America. As Cecilia Morgan suggests, Kahgegagahbowh’s writings offer an important opportunity to analyze an Indigenous American encounter with German modernity, what she describes as a “Transatlantic Performance.” Yet, Kahgegagahbowh was but one of many nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Indigenous transatlantic travelers who engaged German-speaking Europe as artists, intellectuals, musicians, performers, tribal delegates, and tourists. Such Indigenous American travelers moved beyond the coloniality of England, France, and Spain to develop modern Indigenous-European relations that could not be governed by settler colonial landholdings or theocratic political authority. Building upon the recent scholarship of Jace Weaver (Cherokee), Coll Thrush, and other Indigenous studies scholars, who have begun to (re)map American Indigeneity onto Britain, France, and other imperial states who wielded direct power over Turtle Island (North America), my research turns to early Indigenous American interactions in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland to analyze how Indigenous travelers articulated an Indigenous modernity and conceptualized Indigenous futures beyond the confines of their direct settler colonial states.
Michael P. Taylor is an associate professor of English and the associate director of American Indian studies at Brigham Young University, Utah, USA. He is coauthor of Returning Home: Diné Creative Works from the Intermountain Indian School from the University of Arizona Press. His scholarship has appeared in such venues as American Quarterly, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and Modernism/modernity. His research focuses on federal Indian boarding schools, Indigenous modernity, and Indigenous literary activism.