Amanda Cobb-Greetham, Ph.D.

Portrait of Amanda Cobb-Greetham, Ph.D.

Amanda Cobb-Greetham, Ph.D. (Chickasaw) serves the University of Oklahoma as a Professor of Native American Studies. She has received significant recognition for her scholarship, winning the American Book Award for Listening to Our Grandmothers’ Stories: The Bloomfield Academy for Chickasaw Females. In addition, she is the co-editor of The National Museum of the American Indian: Critical Conversations with Amy Lonetree. Cobb-Greetham is at work on a book she began as a 2021-2022 Radcliffe Fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Bright, Golden Haze: Oklahoma/Indian Identity in Myth and Memory, is a collection of interrelated essays interrogating Oklahoma/Indian myth and memory, places Oklahoma’s public history and memory at the center of the American story, turning on the perceived fulfillment of manifest destiny and the “conquering” of the Five Tribes of the southeast and the current efforts of the Five Tribes to contest elements of cultural erasure in these histories. The book then asks the Five Tribes to confront the often-elided hard truths of their own histories, which includes participation in the chattel slavery system. The collection includes the analysis of archival documents and contemporary cultural texts as well as aspects of memoir. Cobb-Greetham’s background includes notable work as a public historian, curator, and institution-builder. From 2007 to 2012, she served her tribe, the Chickasaw Nation. During her tenure, she was instrumental in launching the state-of-the-art Chickasaw Cultural Center and directed the Chickasaw Press, the first tribal publishing house of its kind. In 2018, she received the Chickasaw Nation’s Dynamic Woman Award. Cobb-Greetham has as a Trustee for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. She serves on the Board of Governors for Honoring Nations, an initiative of the Harvard Project for American Indian Economic Development. She contributes to the First American Museum in Oklahoma City as a designated Knowledge Giver.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

In this lecture, Cobb-Greetham provides an overview of the ways in which Federal Indian policies have separated Native families--through warfare, boarding schools, adoption and foster care, and forced assimilation. She discusses the impact on and response from Native families as well as the efforts of Tribal nations to heal, recover, and revitalize.
Native Americans have a tortured relationship with museums. By using a historically unquestioned authority to take Native objects and remains and to define who and what Native Americans are, museums have, in many ways, trapped Native Americans behind their glassed-in cases, rendering vital, contemporary Native voices silent, dynamic Native cultures invisible. The relationship between Native American and Indigenous communities and mainstream museums has changed significantly in recent decades as a result of Native involvement in new museum theory and practice. These changes include the sharing of curatorial ideas, engagement in collaborative partnerships, and efforts to integrate Indigenous knowledges and perspectives.
This lecture considers: (1) the ways in which mainstream museums have historically served as colonizing forces through the representation of Native peoples and the use of western curatorial methodologies; (2) the ways in which such museums can "decolonize" and "indigenize" in an effort to promote healing and understanding; and (3) the ways in which Tribal cultural centers and museums use, challenge, and reimagine long-standing curatorial practices while themselves wrestling with questions of representation, truth-telling, and the complexities of shared histories and memories. Cobb-Greetham uses three sites as case studies, including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian; the First American Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma.
In this lecture, Cobb-Greetham places Oklahoma's public history and memory at the center of the American story, turning on the perceived fulfillment of manifest destiny and the perceived conquering of the Five Tribes of the southeast. She speaks of the current efforts of the Five Tribes to contest elements of cultural erasure in the state of Oklahoma's public histories and monuments, which celebrate the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889 and the mock wedding between "Miss Indian Territory" and "Mr. Cowboy Oklahoma" as part of the 1907 statehood day celebration. She then turns her attention to the public histories and museums of the Five Tribes themselves. In her analysis of the Five Tribes' museums and cultural centers, Cobb-Greetham describes their confrontation with the often-elided hard truths of their own histories, including participation in the chattel slavery system. The lecture discusses the challenges of telling the hard truths of American history and embracing the complexity of our shared past.