2019 Annual Graduate Student Symposium

Title

"Half-Breeds," Squatters, and Settler Colonialism in the Des Moines-Mississippi Confluence

Award Winner

Recipient of the 12th Annual Graduate Student Symposium Scholarship Award, Oral Presentations, State College Room - Second Place (2019)

To go to the Graduate Student Symposium event page, Click here

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

In his seminal book, The Middle Ground, Richard White asserts that interactions between Native Americans and European settlers were much more complicated than conflict and conquest. He argues that the cultures intermingled, rubbed off on each other, and, in some cases, created entirely new cultures on what he calls “the middle ground.” This certainly occurred throughout the west, but interracial interactions often did not take place between defined cultures. In what is now southeastern Iowa, in the region between the Des Moines and Mississippi Rivers—the “Mississippi-Des Moines Confluence”—a variety of racially and culturally indeterminate people—people without a clear racial or national allegiance—intermingled, fought over land, and resisted eventual incorporation into the centralized American nation. The story of the Mississippi-Des Moines Confluence spans seventy years and has several layers: the early settlers and the creation of the “Half-Breed Tract” on the Confluence (1790-1829), the influx of white squatters and the fierce competition over land ownership on the racial and cultural borderland of the Confluence (1829-1850), and the legal disputes and incorporation of the region into the United States (1838-1860). The story of the Mississippi-Des Moines Confluence complicates Richard White’s idea of the Middle Ground while providing insight into ongoing historical discussions on race and identity in the American West, ethnogenesis, borderlands, settler colonialism, and land ownership.

Start Date

3-4-2019 12:00 PM

End Date

3-4-2019 2:00 AM

Year of Award

2019 Award

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Brian Roberts

Department

Department of History

File Format

application/pdf

Embargo Date

4-17-2019

Electronic copy is not available through UNI ScholarWorks.

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Apr 3rd, 12:00 PM Apr 3rd, 2:00 AM

"Half-Breeds," Squatters, and Settler Colonialism in the Des Moines-Mississippi Confluence

In his seminal book, The Middle Ground, Richard White asserts that interactions between Native Americans and European settlers were much more complicated than conflict and conquest. He argues that the cultures intermingled, rubbed off on each other, and, in some cases, created entirely new cultures on what he calls “the middle ground.” This certainly occurred throughout the west, but interracial interactions often did not take place between defined cultures. In what is now southeastern Iowa, in the region between the Des Moines and Mississippi Rivers—the “Mississippi-Des Moines Confluence”—a variety of racially and culturally indeterminate people—people without a clear racial or national allegiance—intermingled, fought over land, and resisted eventual incorporation into the centralized American nation. The story of the Mississippi-Des Moines Confluence spans seventy years and has several layers: the early settlers and the creation of the “Half-Breed Tract” on the Confluence (1790-1829), the influx of white squatters and the fierce competition over land ownership on the racial and cultural borderland of the Confluence (1829-1850), and the legal disputes and incorporation of the region into the United States (1838-1860). The story of the Mississippi-Des Moines Confluence complicates Richard White’s idea of the Middle Ground while providing insight into ongoing historical discussions on race and identity in the American West, ethnogenesis, borderlands, settler colonialism, and land ownership.