Kasey Keeler

Position title: Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2021-2022)

Tuolumne Me-Wuk & Citizen Potawatomi; Assistant Professor, Civil Society & Community Studies (SoHE) and American Indian Studies, UW–Madison

This is a picture of Kasey Keeler. She is looking directly at the camera and smiling. She is wearing red earrings and a shirt with colorful flowers. Behind her is a tall structure with wooden panels

Tribal Capitalism: The Politics of American Indian Land, Property, and Identity

In this new project, I historicize the long history of American Indian dispossession and the innovative ways Native communities and individuals have used land, as capital, to resist settler colonialism in recent decades. This research seeks to complicate the story and struggle of historic land loss by juxtaposing it alongside contemporary land purchases, whereby tribes and individual Indian people have purchased land in the public domain, in order to tell a more accurate and more nuanced story of Native engagement with capitalism. In this project I use ethnography, oral history, and interviews to think through what it means to simultaneously be Native and a landowner; what it means to be dispossessed of land, yet purchase land; what it means to be houseless on traditional land; and what revitalization through property and land ownership can look like, particularly in the twenty first century. This project also gives attention to the increasing momentum of land back movements that have sprung up across the country as well as the ways tribal nations have worked to exert their sovereignty away from their reservation lands.

Kasey Keeler is an enrolled tribal citizen of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians and is also a direct descendant of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Keeler considers herself a “suburban Indian” who was raised in the Twin Cities on Dakota homelands. Keeler completed her undergraduate degree at UW-Madison before returning to the Twin Cities to work in the Native community. After completing her PhD in American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Keeler spent two years at the University of Virginia as the Native American Studies Postdoctoral Fellow in American Studies. At UW-Madison, Keeler continues to focus her research and teaching on American Indian communities and histories with a particular emphasis on land, policy, housing, place/placemaking, memory, and pop culture. Keeler’s first book, American Indians and the American Dream is under contract with the University of Minnesota Press and is scheduled to come out in Fall 2022.