Robert Caldwell, Jr.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies
Contact Robert

Mail Code CSI
Robert Caldwell, Jr.
Franklin Patterson Hall 209

Robert B. Caldwell Jr., visiting assistant professor of Native American and Indigenous studies, received his B.A. from the University of  New Orleans, an M.S. in labor studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and M.A. in heritage resources from Northwestern State University of Louisiana and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Arlington. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

His wide-ranging interests include transnational history, foodways, migration history, resistance and revolutions, historical geography, cartography, and the history of exploration and "discoveries." His dissertation focused on thematic maps of American Indian homelands, languages and culture areas. He is revising the manuscript for publication with the University of Nebraska Press.

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Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • This course is a survey of the history of what is now known as the United States from indigenous perspectives, covering the genesis of the European colonial enterprise, war of Independence and founding documents of the United States, and territorial expansion, to the continuing colonial period of the present. We will focus especially on the relationship between Native American history and U.S. history, given that the United States is built on Indigenous lands. In addition to content, the course introduces students to relevant pedagogy, historiographical theory, and ethnohistorical methodology.

  • What is indigenous space? What is a traditional cultural place? What constitutes "Indian Country" today? What is the relationship between land base and sovereignty? How have Natives and settler-colonists conceived and contested land and territory over time? This this upper-division course welcomes students from all concentrations but is best suited for students with some prior coursework in history, anthropology, geography, social theory or indigenous studies. It is designed to explore geographies of Native America with a special focus on Dawnland/ "New England." The class considers homelands, culture areas, the mapping of languages and polities. It encourages students to think critically about colonization/ decolonization. The course is reading and writing intensive, with weekly response papers and engaged classroom discussion expected. Students will complete and present a final project or research paper. Keywords: contested space, indigenous, sovereignty, settler colonialism, decolonization

  • From Archie Phinney to Winona LaDuke and beyond, the struggle for Indigenous Liberation is an important but overlooked component of 20th Century U.S. history. After World War II, the United States government pushed to "Terminate" tribes and encouraged Native people to move to cities for industrial employment. Tribes responded with the creation of the National Congress of American Indians. Twenty years later, a younger generation of urban-based individuals, usually described as the Red Power movement captured the attention of the country with their occupations of Alcatraz, the Bureau of Indian affairs, and Wounded Knee. In recent years, struggles for earth and water, child welfare, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women have taken center stage. Keywords: Socialism, Marxism, Sovereignty, Red Power, MMIW

  • This course examines the situation of those Indigenous communities in the United States that do not have recognition as tribes from the colonial state. It explores the complicated relationship between race, tribal identity and federal relationship for non-federally recognized tribes, state-recognized tribes, genizaros, Metis, Louisiana Creoles and other communities, with a focus on racial and tribal identities. It examines the history of the Federal Acknowledgement Process, a governmental process in which Indigenous communities are "acknowledged" as Indian tribes and become eligible to receive services. Keywords: Federal Recognition, Sovereignty, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Government, Politics

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  • Crispus Attucks, the first martyr of the U.S. War for Independence, was a working-class New Englander of both African American and Indigenous descent. In the five hundred years since Europeans first brought Africans to the shores of North America, they forged shared histories, communities, and families alongside, and often together with, Native peoples. Racism, legal frameworks, and historical particularities have often divided the two communities. This course considers examples of Black-Native unity, Blood quantum, historical and contemporary anti-Blackness in the U.S., communities of Black Indians including Louisiana Creoles, and the enslavement of African Americans by "civilized tribes" and resulting Freedmen. (keywords: racism, anti-racism, settler-colonialism, organizing, afro-indigenous)

  • From stevedore Crispus Attucks to Mohawk Ironworkers building Manhattan skyscrapers to Anishinaabe truck drivers in the Minneapolis Teamster Strike of 1934, Native people have been central at important flash points in U.S. history. However, historians and sociologist rarely portray Indigenous people as workers under capitalism, preferring to study traditional subsistence methods or contemporary social problems including structural unemployment. This course examines indigenous people as part of the working class in the United States until present. (keywords: labor, class, unions, workers, indigenous)