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272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 5 halftones, appends., notes, bibl., index

A project of First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies

ISBN  978-0-8078-7290-1
Published: October 2012

Colonial Entanglement

Constituting a Twenty-First-Century Osage Nation

By Jean Dennison


From 2004 to 2006 the Osage Nation conducted a contentious governmental reform process in which sharply differing visions arose over the new government's goals, the Nation's own history, and what it means to be Osage. The primary debates were focused on biology, culture, natural resources, and sovereignty. Osage anthropologist Jean Dennison documents the reform process in order to reveal the lasting effects of colonialism and to illuminate the possibilities for indigenous sovereignty. In doing so, she brings to light the many complexities of defining indigenous citizenship and governance in the twenty-first century.

By situating the 2004-6 Osage Nation reform process within its historical and current contexts, Dennison illustrates how the Osage have creatively responded to continuing assaults on their nationhood. A fascinating account of a nation in the midst of its own remaking, Colonial Entanglement presents a sharp analysis of how legacies of European invasion and settlement in North America continue to affect indigenous people's views of selfhood and nationhood.

About the Author

Jean Dennison (Osage) is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


"Short, smart, and highly readable. . . . A very thoughtful presentation."
--Anthropology Review Database

“An engaging analysis of the recent Osage reform movement that led to the adoption of the 2006 Osage constitution.”

“Dennison’s future perspective is a burgeoning literature in anthropology and Native American Studies.”
--American Ethnologist

"An elegant, effective analysis of debates over Osage nationhood in the early twenty-first century, contextualized by a sophisticated discussion of broader questions of indigenous sovereignty, identity, and citizenship."
--Pauline Turner Strong, University of Texas at Austin

"A model work of scholarship. Dennison takes us inside Osage nation hearings, negotiations, and viewpoints to tell a compelling story rich with ethnographic, historical, and political detail."
--Kevin Bruyneel, Babson College

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