‘There is something in this land that will sustain us’: Osage oil and extraction in indigenous literatures

Brignell, Rhy (2022) ‘There is something in this land that will sustain us’: Osage oil and extraction in indigenous literatures. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis focuses on the Osage Nation, whose lands are located in what is currently referred to as Oklahoma in the United States. The Osage Nation has a longstanding and multi-layered relationship with oil and extraction, having secured and retained rights in common to all subsurface minerals beneath their lands since 1906. Since no individual or group of individuals owns the Mineral Estate, the Osage Nation collectively owns what has been referred to the first ‘underground reservation’ of oil, gas, and other subsurface minerals across the 1.47-million-acre Osage County. Specifically, this thesis explores the deeply entangled relationship between Osages and oil extraction through the lens of three novels by Indigenous authors over the span of several decades: John Joseph Mathews’ (Osage) Sundown (1934), Linda Hogan’s (Chickasaw) Mean Spirit (1990), Charles H. Red Corn’s (Osage) A Pipe For February (2002). This project argues that these novels provide fresh perspectives on the matter of oil extraction and its effects on land, environment, politics, and culture; effects felt by both the Osage and settlers within and beyond the scope of the novels themselves. These works highlight the need to look beyond a narrative of Indigenous exploitation to further explore the vexed and occasionally ambivalent relationships between Indigenous peoples and oil extraction, characterised in the case of the Osage by the wealth, opportunity, dispossession, and violence that oil simultaneously brought. Read together and in conversation with other critical theorists, this thesis contends that these novels also open up new avenues of inquiry between the disciplines of Indigenous studies and the environmental humanities in relation to time, power, and economics, providing opportunities for greater collaboration and critique across these areas of study.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2024 11:14
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2024 11:14
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/94255


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