The Wisconsin Oneida and the WPA: Stories of corn, colonialism, and revitalization

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Colonization efforts over time have changed Oneida relationships with corn drastically. This study examines that history through a collection of stories told by Oneida people for the Work Progress Administration (WPA) between 1938 and 1942. Furthermore, the people's changing relationship with corn over time highlights the effects of removal, allotment, and assimilation on the Oneida within the American context. Finally, while change occurred, the WPA interviews uncover continuity in Oneida Country as members struggled to maintain their relationship with corn and other traditional foodways in the wake of colonialism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-427
Number of pages21
JournalEthnohistory
Volume68
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Corn played a significant and historical role in the lives of many Indigenous people throughout the Americas (Barreiro 1989). Without a doubt, these relationships with corn have changed over time. Scholars have taken note, describing the ways in which colonialism, and with it, forced relocations, allotment, and assimilation, have had devastating tolls on Indigenous language, culture, and diet (Loew 2001; Coté 2016; Walter 2012; Grey and Patel 2015; Bodirsky and Johnson 2008; Haman et al. 2010). This article examines this process by looking at the changing relationship between the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin and corn through an analysis of Oneida stories collected for the Work Progress Administration (WPA) between 1938 and 1942. A federal program funded through President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program, the WPA sponsored two projects to collect these stories: the Oneida Language and Folklore Project and the Oneida Ethnological

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2021 by American Society for Ethnohistory

Keywords

  • Corn
  • Food sovereignty
  • Indigenous
  • Oneida
  • Works progress administration

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