The Color of the Land brings the histories of Creek Indians, African Americans, and whites in Oklahoma together into one story that explores the way races and nations were made
and remade in conflicts over who would own land, who would farm it, and who would rule it. This story disrupts expected narratives of the American past, revealing how identities--race,
nation, and class--took new forms in struggles over the creation of different systems of property.
|"Chang explores how Indians and white Americans used race and nation to control access to land and dispossess those defined as 'other.' His ambitious and groundbreaking book is deeply researched, broadly engaged with important debates, and thoroughly convincing."|
— Claudio Saunt, author of Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family
"There are few scholars capable of addressing all the potential axes of investigation as fully and thoroughly as Chang does. To weave Indians, African Americans, and Euro-Americans together into one story that also encompasses race, class, nation, and land is to account for the variables historians have been discussing in a piecemeal fashion for a generation or more. At once explicitly comparative and exquisitely sensitive to the connections between the units under comparison, this is the kind of work that we need more of."
— Joshua A. Piker, University of Oklahoma
Conflicts were unleashed by a series of sweeping changes: the forced "removal"
of the Creeks from their homeland to Oklahoma in the 1830s, the transformation of the Creeks' enslaved black population into landed black Creek citizens after the Civil War, the
imposition of statehood and private landownership at the turn of the twentieth century, and the entrenchment of a sharecropping economy and white supremacy in the following decades. In
struggles over land, wealth, and power, Oklahomans actively defined and redefined what it meant to be Native American, African American, or white. By telling this story, David Chang
contributes to the history of racial construction and nationalism as well as to southern, western, and Native American history.
David A. Chang is assistant professor of history at the University of Minnesota.