Citizenship, Land and Law: Constitutional Criticism and John Milton Oskison's Black Jack Davy

Brown, Kirby. Citizenship, Land and Law: Constitutional Criticism and John Milton Oskison's Black Jack Davy. Studies in American Indian Literatures. University of Nebraska Press. 2012. 77-115.

This essay examines the potential of tribally specific constitutional traditions as a lens through which to read tribal-national literatures. Specifically, I foreground the concepts of territory, law, and citizenship as they emerged in a Cherokee constitutional tradition as markers of Cherokee sovereignty in Oskison's western romance, Black Jack Davy, and examine how such a frame might complicate our understandings of texts composed during an era most commonly seen in decidedly nonnational terms, as either overly accommodationist or outright assimilationist. Against these assumptions, I argue that Oskison's attention to Cherokee territory, land tenure laws, and citizenship in a narrative set explicitly in sovereign Cherokee territory—written at the very moment that such issues were suddenly brought back to the table—indigenizes the form from colonial alibi justifying a settler-colonial state to a "dark age" declaration of Cherokee independence and a popular case for Indian sovereignty.

Fields of Focus: American Studies, Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Literary and Critical Theory, Native American Literary Studies, Race and Ethnicity, The Novel