Graduate student Meredith Palmer's article, Rendering Settler Sovereign Landscapes: Race and Property in the Empire State, is now published online in the journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.
Rendering settler sovereign landscapes: Race and property in the Empire State
This article examines the politics of race, indigeneity, and landscape in US American enactments of property. Its substance is the homelands of the Haudenosaunee, now territorialized as upstate New York. The 2005 US Supreme Court case City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation denied the Oneida of the Haudenosaunee the right to expand their sovereignty onto former reservation lands through the purchase of land title. In this article, I follow the genesis of the term “non-Indian character” of an area, first written in the Sherrill decision. In tracing the genealogy of this term, I examine the racial tenets embedded in US land survey tools and discourse of property-making after the Revolutionary War. I then discuss how efforts of the Holland Land Company, New York state agents, and yeoman settlers rendered settler sovereign landscapes through acts of Haudenosaunee dispossession and concepts of Indian inferiority. As Indigenous people continue to challenge US legal concepts of property today, the settler state has reauthorized this framing of Native American sovereignty that is bounded and may only recede territorially. I consider how racist understandings of Indian inferiority maintain land as property, to show how US sovereignty rests territorially on anti-indigenous concepts of race and place.