Date of Award

August 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Benjamin H. Johnson

Committee Members

Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Rachel Buff, Cary Miller


Early America, Native Americans, Ohio River Valley, Race


This thesis discusses changes in native racial practice in the Ohio River Valley and lower Great Lakes from 1778-1813. In this region, Native peoples altered their identities and racial practices in order to navigate an environment where Euro-Americans threatened their way of life and their land. They cultivated a pan-Indian identity in order to fight against westward expansion, making the isolation of "others" a typical function of kinship practices. While recognizing the racial hierarchy of whites, Native peoples created their own racial thought and practices, integrating their beliefs into their kinship structures, daily lives, and identities. As pan-Indianism evolved, "white" took on a new and racial significance for Native peoples. Through this process, they reinvented their kinship practices and the option for whites to have social and cultural hybridity grew more and more rare. The transformation of non-Indians from potential kin to "other" becomes evident through an examination of interactions between Native peoples and Euro-Americans, including both their language and treatment of white captives, allowing for an analysis of the evolving role of race and racial practices in this borderland.