Synopses & Reviews
The story of the Tohono Oand#8217;odham peoples offers an important account of assimilation. Bifurcated by a border demarcating Mexico and the United States that was imposed on them after the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, the Tohono Oand#8217;odham lived at the edge of two empires. Although they were often invisible to the majority cultures of the region, they attracted the attention of reformers and government officials in the United States, who were determined to and#8220;assimilateand#8221; native peoples into and#8220;American society.and#8221; By focusing on gender norms and ideals in the assimilation of the Tohono Oand#8217;odham, At the Border of Empires
provides a lens for looking at both Native American history and broader societal ideas about femininity, masculinity, and empire around the turn of the twentieth century.
Beginning in the 1880s, the US government implemented programs to eliminate and#8220;viceand#8221; among the Tohono Oand#8217;odham and to encourage the morals of the majority culture as the basis of a process of and#8220;Americanization.and#8221; During the next fifty years, tribal norms interacted withand#8212;sometimes conflicting with and sometimes reinforcingand#8212;those of the larger society in ways that significantly shaped both government policy and tribal experience. This book examines the mediation between cultures, the officials who sometimes developed policies based on personal beliefs and gender biases, and the native people whose lives were impacted as a result. These issues are brought into useful relief by comparing the experiences of the Tohono Oand#8217;odham on two sides of a border that was, from a native perspective, totally arbitrary.
"This in-depth study of feuding missionaries and conniving Indian agents trying to educate and "civilize" Native Americans provides a gripping tale of paternalism, racism, and exploitation."and#8212;Bill Broyles, Southwest Books of the Year
and#8220;The archival research and the chapter on Mexico are especially welcome since few works have examined the Tohono Oand#8217;odham living on both sides of the border.and#160; The book also offers excellent insights into the role that gender played in the United Statesand#8217; assimilation policy and indigenous responses do it.and#8221;and#8212; Eric Meeks, author of Border Citizens: The Making of Indians, Mexicans, and Anglos in Arizona
andldquo;A tidy and compact volume that contains keen insights into how the US governmentandrsquo;s efforts to assimilate the Tohono Oandrsquo;odham relied upon constructions of gender.andquot;andmdash;Journal of Arizona History
andquot;Scholars of indigenous studies, borderlands history, and transnational history will welcome this text as a small but powerful example of what can be accomplished in a field overflowing with similar research topics to be explored and stories to be told.andquot;andmdash;The Catholic Historical Review
andldquo;Marak and Tuennerman focus on the gendered dimensions of efforts to assimilate the Tohono Oandrsquo;odham, a nation of people that have lived in what we now call the borderlands for over a millennium.andrdquo;andmdash;Jeffrey Shepherd, author of We Are an Indian Nation: A History of the Hualapai People
andquot;At the Border of Empiresand#160;forms an important part of the growing body of scholarship on Native American assimilation during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.andquot;andmdash;The Journal of American History
andquot;Marak and Teunnerman deftly illustrate the unintended consequences of gendered assimilation efforts in the U.S.andquot;andmdash;Journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association
andldquo;Highlighting the themes of imperialism, gender, and Indigenous agency, Marak and Teunnerman deftly illustrate the unintended consequences of gendered assimilation efforts in which U.S. assimilation efforts occurred not in spite of, but rather because of, the peripheral location of the Tohono Oandrsquo;odham.andrdquo;andmdash;NAIS
The border between the United States and Mexico, established in 1853, passes through the territory of the Tohono Oandrsquo;odham peoples. This revealing book sheds light on Native American history as well as conceptions of femininity, masculinity, and empire.
About the Author
Andrae M. Marak is a chair of humanities and social sciences and a professor of history and political science at Governors State University.and#160;He is the co-editor (with Elaine Carey) of Smugglers, Brothels, and Twine: Historical Perspectives on Contraband and Vice in North Americaandrsquo;s Borderlands. Laura Tuennerman is Chair of the Department of History and Political Science, and a professor of history at California University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Helping Others, Helping Ourselves.