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2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium-Ayantu Israel-Megerssa

Ayantu Israel-Megerssa The Other in Their Own Land: Internal Orientalism, Genocide, and the Northern Paiute of the Oregon Great Basin

Abstract
The Northern Paiutes, an American Indian tribe from Central and Eastern Oregon, experienced a significant reduction in their population at the hands of white settlers and the Oregon and federal governments over the course of the 19th century. Those who were left of the Northern Paiute population by the late 19th-20th century were subjected to cultural genocide in the form of severe assimilationist policies and economic subjugation through the reservation system. And yet, this is not a history that is widely studied, written about, or taught in schools in Oregon or around the country. My research will explore the Northern Paiutes in the context of settler colonialism in the 19th century in order to make the case that as occurrences of mass murder carried out by the state of Oregon and the federal government, the Northern Paiutes were the victims of genocide. Current research into the subject has briefly referred to the Northern Paiutes as victims of genocide, but has yet to explore the relationship between settler colonialism and genocide in the region. My research will show that frameworks for the analysis of settler colonialism, such as Edward Said’s seminal work, Orientalism, will prove that the Northern Paiutes were the victims of genocide at the hands of the Oregon and US governments, and illuminate the way in which this genocide was rationalized and justified by white settler colonizers in the region.

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