History ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 3-28-2022


“Gathering Around a New Fire: The Bemo Family, Interracial Marriage, Race, and Power in the Mvskoke Nation, 1870-1897” explores from an Indigenous and gendered perspective the lived experiences of the interracial Bemo family in the Mvskoke Nation located in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). The marriage of Douglas Bemo, a Mvskoke/Semvnole student at Tullahassee Mission, to Katie Edwards, his white teacher, is the primary focus of this dissertation. My research seeks to restore Indigenous cultural agency to the complex Bemo family history. I merge Katie’s myopic narrative, federal Indian policy documents, missionary records, and nineteenth-century newspapers with Mvskoke/Semvnole oral histories, tribal documents, and ethnohistorical sources to produce a more nuanced portrait of interracial family life in nineteenth-century America. I contend that studying interracial families, like the Bemos, is essential to understanding the socio-cultural dynamics at work in the American West and demonstrates how gender, power, and race became intertwined.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Durwood Ball

Second Committee Member

Dr. Margaret Connell-Szasz

Third Committee Member

Dr. Robert Franklin Jefferson, Jr.

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Angela Pulley Hudson




Race, Marriage, Interracial Marriage, Indigenous History, American West, Muscogee Nation

Document Type


Available for download on Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Included in

History Commons