Indians and academia : how the post-world war 2 revival of interest in native Americans influenced the teaching of Indian history in North Carolina higher education.

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Conley, Manuel
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Middle Tennessee State University
After four hundred and fifty years in the shadows, shortly after the middle of the twentieth century, various events converged to shed new light on Native Americans. During the cultural upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s, a dramatic surge of public interest in Native Americans produced what some historians call the Indian Renaissance. This revival of interest prompted far reaching changes in the field of Native American history. These changes were particularly profound in North Carolina, a state with an Indian population of over 80,000.
Utilizing both literary and statistical sources, this dissertation examines the historiography of Indian-white relations with particular emphasis on the second half of the twentieth century in order to evaluate how the Indian Renaissance influenced the teaching of American Indian history in North Carolina's four-year colleges and universities.
The analysis of American Indian historiographical patterns before 1776 reveals that although shifting paradigms variously characterized Indians as innocent victims or natural slaves, ignoble or noble savages, and obstacles to progress or models to emulate, Native Americans were persistently depicted as passive props or reactive bit players in the New World's historical pageant. American independence brought little change. Patriotic romanticists, scientific historians, and the followers of Frederick Jackson Turner continued to relegate Indians to inconsequential footnotes as impeders of progress. Although the emergence of ethnohistory in the 1950s fueled some heightened curiosity, it was not until the revival of interest in Native Americans during the Indian Renaissance that anyone in North Carolina higher education gave serious thought to teaching Indian history.
The examination of the development of higher education in North Carolina explains how the nation-wide Indian Renaissance together with local Indian unrest contributed to the establishment of American Indian history courses, first at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, then later at other institutions in the state.
Finally, data gathered from surveys of history department chairs, instructors teaching Indian history, and students at UNC-Pembroke support this dissertation's conclusion that compared to the years prior to the Indian Renaissance, the teaching of Native American history is alive and well in North Carolina higher education.
Adviser: Fred S. Rolater.