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Native American Lives and the History of South Dakota's Hiawatha Asylum, 1920-1934
Susan Burch, Middlebury College
Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FT-60443-13
Disorderly Pasts: Kinship, Diagnoses, and Remembering in American Indian-U.S. Histories (Article)
Title: Disorderly Pasts: Kinship, Diagnoses, and Remembering in American Indian-U.S. Histories
Author: Susan Burch
Abstract: “Disorderly Pasts” centers on life stories from South Dakota’s Canton Asylum, a federal psychiatric hospital for American Indians. Between 1902 and 1933, the Asylum detained nearly four hundred Indigenous men, women, and children from more than fifty Native nations. Focusing especially on the experiences of Menominee people collectively stolen from their homes in Wisconsin to Canton in November 1917, this article exposes contested understandings of kin, diagnoses, and remembering. Complex relationships between the three concepts also emerge: medical diagnoses were used to undermine Indigenous kinship, and they complicate remembering. At the same time, remembering—recalling and repopulating the past—offers a way to challenge pathological diagnoses and affirm Native self-determination.
Primary URL: http://jsh.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/shw028? ijkey=lSFJzAzzMqvpwOv&keytype=ref
Periodical Title: Journal Of Social History
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Journal of Social History
“Dislocated: the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Dislocated: the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians”
Author: Susan Burch
Abstract: This presentation examines “dislocated histories” from the Canton Asylum in South Dakota, the only federal psychiatric hospital specifically created for Native peoples in the United States. Beginning with its first forced occupant in December 1902, the Asylum ultimately housed nearly 400 men, women, and children from 17 states and nearly 50 tribes before it was closed amid scandal in 1934. My historical study draws on a vast array of source on and by the people held at the Canton Asylum, as well as oral histories and extensive collaboration with some of their descendants. Conceptualizing asylum life as community history offers a reinterpretation of conventional institutional histories, which privilege administrative perspectives. This enables new insights into human relations, constructed categories (like race and disability), and identities to emerge.
Exploration of this Asylum community's complex history reveals "large questions in small places." Individual histories of inmates and their families are inextricably tied to broader stories of forced removals; the rise of boarding schools, as well as penal, medical, and disability institutions. This paper will focus especially on the similarities, overlaps, and distinctive differences between other institutions of control and the Canton Asylum. Including a critical assessment of disability (as a contested and culturally-specific idea, a lived experience, and an analytical interpretation), this project seeks to expand the boundaries of Native American and critical disability studies by bringing these histories into conversation with each other.
Conference Name: Native American Indigenous Studies