'Been to the Nation, Lord, but I Couldn't Stay There'

Jodi A. Byrd

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This essay takes as its case study the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma's 2007 vote to disenfranchise approximately 2,800 Cherokee Freedmen (African-Cherokee descendents of slaves once held by members of the Cherokee Nation) in violation of the treaty the Cherokee Nation signed with the United States in 1866 to end the Civil War. Arguing that indigenous sovereignty and political status is incommensurable with the 'internal' to the United States, the essay provides a genealogy of 'internal colonialism' in order to track how it has emerged as descriptor within postcolonial theory for indigenous peoples' relations with the United States. In order to place indigenous critical theory into conversation with subaltern studies, the essay argues that disaggregating processes of racialization from colonization makes the ongoing settler colonization of indigenous nations visible in conversation with subaltern studies at the same time that it reveals the persistent racisms that have continued to inflect Cherokee nationalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-52
Number of pages22
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Cherokee
  • Freedmen
  • internal colonialism
  • racialization
  • settler colonialism
  • sovereignty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology


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