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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


During my undergraduate career at the University of North Texas, I began to have a fascination with American Indian tribes whose histories were not well known to the general public. As I studied Virginia history, I became curious about the Monacan Indian Nation and how they have handled the controversy over their existence and identity to the Monacan Indian Nation of the seventeenth century. My Master’s thesis deals with this very question and how their Indian identity has been impacted by the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and the actions of Walter A. Plecker. Plecker took particular interest in the Monacan Indian Nation in Amherst and Rockbridge Counties where he waged a bitter conflict based on official documents that labeled members of the Monacan Indian Nation as colored. My research focuses on correspondence from Plecker to Rockbridge County Clerk, A.T. Shields and Plecker’s letter to members of the Monacan Indian Nation as well as newspaper coverage and census records to uncover the methods in which Indian identity was defined and the lengths in which both parties went to have their views of race designations defended. Ultimately, this thesis will present how various historical sources defined Indian identity and how the historical actors interpreted these sources.

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