Rifkin’s essay argues that previous considerations of Apess’s work, particularly A Son of the Forest, have mentioned the existence of the Mashantucket reservation and Apess’s relation to it but have not addressed its role as a framing feature of his writing. Through a reading of A Son of the Forest, the essay illustrates how Mashantucket provides a shadow referent for much of the plot of the narrative, and in this way, the essay demonstrates how Apess develops strategies for signifying Native sovereignty in the absence of treaty-like relations that could signal the presence of “political” matters and of Native geopolitical claims.

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