Jeff Washburn is a PhD candidate and graduate instructor in the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History at the University of Mississippi. His talk will be “Whose Civilization Plan Was It? Chickasaw Manipulation of Federal Agents in the Early Nineteenth Century.”
Washburn’s talk will challenge the role of federal Indian agents in implementing new economic changes proposed by the United States first federal Indian policy, the so-called “civilization plan,” in Chickasaw county. For Indian communities in the Native South, agents acted as ambassadors and intermediaries for the federal government and Indian communities. In Chickasaw country, federal agents were constantly rotated, replaced, or fired. Because of this constant turnover, federal agents in Chickasaw country navigated a perilous position with their Indian charges, one where their influence and power was not well established through years of closely interacting and working with them. This lack of stability opened an opportunity for Chickasaw headmen to manipulate their agents and federal officials, in effect placing into question whose civilization plan it was.