This presidential address, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Ethnohistory at Penn State University in 2019, draws attention to the politics of sameness and difference with examples of how people in the past invoked sameness or difference to include or exclude, disempower or empower, or advocate for equality or inequality. The address then asks how the politics of sameness and difference intersect with scholars’ use of sameness and difference in their analyses. It recommends that ethnohistorians think carefully about their word choices, assumptions, and the kinds of questions they ask about European and Native American historical actors, because these can result in misleading inferences about sameness and difference.

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