Mikaëla M. Adams:
“‘The Positive Duty to Aid Them’: Segregated Health, Federal Responsibility, and the Mississippi Choctaws during the 1918–1919 Influenza Pandemic”
After ignoring the Mississippi Choctaws for decades, Congress finally established an agency for them in 1918. This effort came none too soon: within months a deadly new strain of influenza struck. Yet, finding medical help for the Choctaws in segregated Mississippi proved difficult, and 61 out of 1,253 Choctaws ultimately died in the outbreak. The pandemic reinforced the need for a federal presence in the segregated South and, in the years that followed, the Choctaws marshaled that federal-tribal relationship to rebuild their land base and restore their sovereignty.
Mikaëla M. Adams is an associate professor of Native American history at the University of Mississippi. Her first book, Who Belongs? Race, Resources, and Tribal Citizenship in the Native South, explored themes of Indigenous identity, citizenship, and sovereignty in the Jim Crow South. Her current work examines the influenza pandemic of 1918–20 in Indian country.
SouthTalks is a series of events (including lectures, performances, film screenings, and panel discussions) exploring the interdisciplinary nature of Southern Studies. This series takes place in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory unless otherwise noted, and is free and open to the public.