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(Re)Developing Sovereignty: Choctaw Reconfigurations of Culture and Politics through Economic Development in Oklahoma


To counteract their historical erasure and economic marginalization within American settler society, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma repurposes economic development robustly. Choctaw sovereignty, reinvigorated by economic development, enables the Nation to assert their political presence in ways that have transformed southeastern Oklahoma economically. Ethnographic examination of Chahta Anumpa Aiikhvna (School of Choctaw Language) and the history of Chahta anumpa (Choctaw language) in Oklahoma demonstrates how Choctaw Nation has accomplished both of these things. Additionally, this thesis critically examines Choctaw citizens’ complex experiences with economic development, which are shaped by an continual process of Indigenous dispossession. Understanding how these experiences and histories link together in turn opens up alternative possibilities for Choctaw futures grounded in Choctaw ways of life.

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