A History of Colonial Inscription: ‘The Wedding’ and ‘The Buddy Narrative’ in Oklahoma Statehood Commemorations

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Postcolonial Studies

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This essay examines archival materials about the mock wedding staged to commemorate the creation of the State of Oklahoma in November 1907 in the town of Guthrie. It suggests that ‘The Wedding’ performs a number of ideological moves in establishing settler common sense for the state and for the nation. Most obviously, it updates the ‘Pocahontas marriage’, a founding myth of the United States from the seventeenth century, adapting it to modern colonial needs in state creation. The essay roots the durability of The Wedding in its Edenic underpinnings, expressed first as an iconic founding couple, and secondly via a longed-for prelapsarian Adam figure, endowed with lands and empowered to name, sans Eve. Finally, The Wedding is a kind of proof text for the effacement of wives in the modern state’s entailments and dis-entailments via civil marriage, colonial sense-making and immigration law. By reading the cultural script of The Wedding as a phase of Anglo-American colonial inscription, the essay suggests that the tropes of Matrimony and Discovery inform and support one another in the US case. Neither shows signs of weakening as settler common sense, despite critiques by Native Americans and African Americans in Oklahoma.


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