Protecting the Line: Clinton Rickard, Border-Crossing and Haudenosaunee Trans-Indigeneity
After a century of working to solve the Indian problem through assimilation, the United States shifted toward the ultimate policy of absorption: citizenship. In the early 20th century, this became the primary issue between the American settler-state and Native nations. As the former demonstrated its commitment to settler-colonialism by ... eliminating Indigenousness as a distinct sociopolitical and ethnic identification, Native people repudiated this erasure through Indigeneity. This assertion of sociopolitical Otherness, rooted in land and attachment thereto, combatted the unilateralism of federal legislation and the abrogation of treaties. Among the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations or Iroquois), these protests occurred in relation to the border-crossing rights inhered in the Jay and Ghent Treaties. After the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924, Tuscarora chief Clinton Rickard organized resistance through the Indian Defense League of America. Along with securing the ability to freely cross the international boundary between the United States and Canada, he fought for the recognition of Haudenosaunee sovereignty, respect toward Haudenosaunee culture, and the preservation of Haudenosaunee land. By focusing on peace, unity, and treaties, Rickard protected the line, meaning both the international boundary and the cultural integrity of the Haudenosaunee and all Indigenous people.
Original publication in
On_culture: the open journal for the study of culture 5 (2018)