Baligh Ben Taleb

Position title: ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow in Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity [Emerging Voices Fellowship] (2021-2022)

Ph.D., History and Ethnic Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

A bio photo for Baligh Ben Taleb. He is wearing glasses. He has on a tweed jacket with a white shirt underneath.

Reckoning with the Legacy of U.S. Settler Colonialism: Treaty Claims and the Western Shoshone Quest for Justice

My book project investigates the implications of the Indian Claims Commission (ICC, 1946-1978) for Western Shoshone traditional land and treaty rights in Nevada. Instead of settling Western Shoshone historical demands, I suggest, the ICC became deeply unsettling. It misrecognized the Treaty of Ruby Valley of 1863; nullified Western Shoshone land sovereignty; legalized U.S. land ownership through a fictional theory of “gradual encroachment”; and sowed perpetual intratribal rift, bitter rivalry, and divisive sentiment. Against this backdrop, my project traces the long-standing battles of the Western Shoshone sisters Carrie and Mary Dann (the sisters) for their historical land and treaty rights. I look at how the sisters embodied and practiced deep refusal, resilience, and resistance against the ICC discursive politics of redress; evaded its settler colonial reprisals; and provided a means of redefining the conversation around historical reparation in ways that empower Indigenous sovereignty beyond the land-money transaction.

Baligh Ben Taleb earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2021 and currently hold an ACLS Emerging Voices Postdoctoral Fellowship in Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity at UW-Madison. His primary research interests center on histories of Indigenous American societies, race beyond the black/white paradigm, ethnicity, indigeneity, settler colonialism, and transitional justice, with an emphasis on narratives, institutions, ideas, and the ways in which their legacies continue to shape the contemporary world. His first book project investigates how Native American and Indigenous women built robust tools and infrastructure to empower Western Shoshone communities against settler colonialism’s self-fulfilling prophecy of elimination. In organizing, strategizing, and allying with a web of Natives and non-Natives supporters, they curated their own history against the diverse efforts of erasure and the slow measures of dispossession. His research has been recognized and supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at BYU, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Center for Great Plains Studies, and UNL Department of History and the Dean’s Office of Arts & Science.