Captain Jack’s Whip and Borderlands of Swedish-Indigenous Encounters
A donation of Modoc leader Captain Jack’s whip to the Swedish Ethnographic collections in Stockholm in 1874 provides an entry point to an exploration of the circulation of knowledge, its reusable qualities on both sides of the Atlantic, and the distribution of power to authorize meaning and exchanges.
Captain Jack led the Modocs in a last desperate war against the onslaught of American settler expansion into their territory in the western United States, a war that made headlines in Swedish newspapers and formed an occasion for critique of American colonialism. The donation to the museum by a Swedish emigrant stressed the notion of friendship between indigenous peoples and settlers, and served to distance Swedes from the violence of expansion. It exposes a Swedish-American borderland that was not separate from a lived Swedish-American experience, nor from Swedish politics and culture or American–Indigenous relations at the time.