Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination
Mark Rifkin is Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program and Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and the author of several books, including Settler Common Sense: Queerness and Everyday Colonialism in the American Renaissance.
The Duration of the Land
In his novel Sundown (1934), John Joseph Mathews traces how allotment pressures Osages to conform to a vision of futurity defined by the state’s extension of authority over Native peoples and lands. He explores how Osage histories of placemaking influence ordinary perception in ways that exceed the terms of Indian policy, while also indicating how such duration remains open to change on its own terms. The text often marks the lived friction between official U.S. and Osage temporal formations through figures of queerness. In narrating the main character’s sensation of disorientation with respect to events unfolding around him, the novel suggests that his feeling of queerness within the social formations created by allotment indicates less an Indian inability to adapt -- to give up the deviant fixation on the past -- than continuing and evolving Osage experiences of time that emerge out of enduring connections to their homeland.