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Home » People » Researcher profile: Emily Magrath, University of Aberdeen

Researcher profile: Emily Magrath, University of Aberdeen

Name: Emily Magrath

University: University of Aberdeen (BA); UCL (MA); University of Aberdeen (PhD)

Year of study: 3rd

Research title: ‘Changing Indian identity in Oklahoma, 1911 – 1924’
My research focuses on Native Americans in Oklahoma at the beginning of the twentieth century against the backdrop of the Progressive Era and in the immediate period prior to the granting of Universal American citizenship in 1924.
The project in particular seeks to utilise underused sources including oral history sources from the period and publications from Oklahoma to explore the creation of Indian, as opposed to tribal identity through the localisation of Oklahoma.

Other: Co-chair of the History Postgraduate Seminar Series at Aberdeen and a member of the American Studies Association

Contact email: e.magrath@abdn.ac.uk

Paper title for RCAS:For Sale: Native American image in the Indian School Journal in the early twentieth century’
Abstract:  The opening decades of the twentieth century were marked by a period of reforms, modernisation and ideological change. Such change reverberated also through Native American society and resulted in the emergence of new ideas about the future of Native American society and new images representing Native Americans in America.  This paper seeks to explore this period of change through the lens of the Indian School Journal published by the Chilocco Indian Agricultural Boarding School in Oklahoma. The emphasis of the paper is on examination of the way in which an official publication by an Indian boarding school chose and crafted its content and how through this, the journal created and sold an Indian image. Moreover, it examines the journal as a point of intersection between the boarding school institution, with its predominantly white staff, the Native American students at the school and the Indian image the two groups jointly created.
Examination of this largely underused source reveals a perhaps surprising inclusion of Native American culture in the journal such as the advertisement of Native American crafts which were sold by the school. In their examination of Indian education K. Tsianina Lomawaima and Teresa L. McCarty have theorised about the creation of safe zones from the beginning of the twentieth century in which elements of Native American culture were permissible in American society (To remain an Indian, 2006). This paper seeks to explore this theory through the journal to test out to what extent this is true and further explore the idea of safe elements with Indian image in the US.
In a period in which the US government was pursuing a policy of assimilation toward Native Americans and utilising boarding schools to facilitate this, this paper will reveal how this played out at Chilocco, through the journal, against changes occurring in the US and suggest that the journal is an example of the conflicted and changeable nature Indian image in the early twentieth century.


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