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The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas

Book description

This volume, part of the Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, is the first major survey of research on the indigenous peoples of South America from the earliest peopling of the continent to the present since Julian Steward's Handbook of South American Indians was published half a century ago. Although this volume concentrates on continental South America, peoples in the Caribbean and lower Central America who were linguistically or culturally connected are also discussed. This volume is an 'idea-oriented history', emphasizing the development of general themes instead of presenting every group and society. Indigenous peoples' own stories of the past are used as well as the standard accounts written by outsiders. Research is presented following regional and conceptual frameworks; some chapters overlap or present differing interpretations. The volume's emphasis is on self-perceptions of the indigenous peoples of South America at various times and under differing situations.

Reviews

‘The Cambridge History is an intensely academic publication whose conception, structure and coverage make it a benchmark for future work. … rich store of information and insight … No one interested or involved in indigenous South America can afford to ignore such a prodigious feat of modern scholarship.’

Source: The Times Higher

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  • 1 - Testimonies: The Making and Reading of Native South American Historical Sources
    pp 19-95
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This introductory chapter surveys writings that contain native South American versions of the past and problematizes the way they contain them. Its main purpose is to afford readers a "feel" for native sources' diverse viewpoints, their verbal textures, their transformations during editing into non-native genres, and their historiographic promise. The chapter sketches the literature of colonial native testimonies. It explains modern sources in their relation to ethnography and methodological issues about oral tradition, literacy, and the material record. State functionaries normally paid little attention to the realms of belief and symbolism. The earliest Christian missionaries took little interest in "Indian" belief. It was only in the middle 1560s that an intense native religious ferment, itself provoked by Spanish depredations, stimulated Spanish interest in "idolatry". In modern scholarship, testimonies individually edited as myths, folktales, or traditional stories are rarely left to stand in unhistorical simultaneity.
  • 2 - Ethnography in South America: The First Two Hundred Years
    pp 96-187
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The arrival of Europeans on the South American continent occasioned much writing of diverse kinds. This chapter examines the development of European ideas about "Indians", and some consequences of these ideas. Many of the early ethnographic works about South America were written by Spaniards. Individuals who spoke Guaraní either as their mother tongue or as a second language are most frequently mentioned as translators in the European sources. Some of the translators were prisoners of war who had learned a second language in captivity and were handed over to the Spanish along with items of food. The Portuguese occupation of the coast of Brazil pushed Indians inland and occasioned several migrations of Tupinamba Indians in search of a land without evil. Increasingly, this meant a land without Portuguese. Furthermore, the presence in Indian villages of missionaries, representatives of an alien and ever more dominant culture, changed the fabric of Indian life bringing it more in line with what Europeans expected.
  • 3 - The Earliest South American Lifeways
    pp 188-263
    • By Thomas Lynch, Brazos Valley Museum-Bryan and Texas A&M University
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Archaeological evidence for Amerindian ancestors' migration through the Arctic is sketchy. There is still argument over the details of chronology and route, but it is clear that the human career in America is an extension of Eurasian Upper Paleolithic lifeways. If people lived in America before 12,000 years ago, their remains have become extremely scarce and nearly impossible to authenticate. This chapter examines evidence about supposed very early populations known under the rubrics of pre-Paleoindian, pre-Clovis, or pre-projectile-point populations. From the beginning, many of the proponents of a South American Paleolithic stage have been European archaeologists, amateur or professional, who modeled their expectations on the Old World paleolithic sequence and relied principally on archaeological indications. Sedentism and village formation occurred at the end of the Archaic and have been seen, in most of the world, as correlates of agriculture and harbingers of a Formative stage, in which class structure and civilization emerge.
  • 4 - The Maritime, Highland, Forest Dynamic and the Origins Of Complex Culture
    pp 264-349
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter examines the development of complex societies in the major environmental zones of South America: the maritime coast, the highlands, and the tropical forest. It describes the rise and development of indigenous complex cultures in South America from the late Ice Age through the Holocene, or recent era. For earlier researchers, the Central Andean environment had an important influence on the rise of complex culture, due to its agricultural potential and regional diversity in resources. Traces of early Paleoindian hunting and fishing camps have been found all along the Pacific coast, but the only well-documented culture is Paiján. Late Archaic cultures, which occur both on the coast and in highland basins, are some of the earliest complex cultures in the Americas. The scale and complexity of settlements in the late prehistoric societies of Greater Amazonia are more similar to the societies identified as complex chiefdoms and states elsewhere than to the settlements of the present Indians of Amazonia.
  • 5 - The Evolution of Andean Diversity: Regional Formations (500 B.C.E.–C.E. 600)
    pp 350-517
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter focuses on complex regional cultures that emerged on the coast and in the highlands of northwestern South America, from what is now southern Colombia through Ecuador and Peru to the Peru-Bolivian high plains. Andean prehistory is commonly seen in terms of alternating periods of horizontal or interregional integration and of regional diversity. The chapter begins by identifying a number of major biases and limitations of archaeological data and perspectives and discusses their effects on the 'Early Regional Development' (ERD) culture synthesis. It characterizes the major material, organizational, and ideological features of selected cultures. Contemporaneity and the substantial technical and technological overlap found between the southwest Colombian and northern Peruvian coastal metallurgical traditions raise the important issue of long-distance interaction. The chapter summarizes the organizational features and achievements of the Mochica culture and then compared with other ERD cultures. Analysis of architectural forms and construction techniques has yielded valuable information pertaining to the organization and working of Mochica society.
  • 6 - Andean Urbanism and Statecraft, (C.E. 550–1450)
    pp 518-576
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter describes the period during which great states appeared in the Andes and urbanism there reached its apex. Until the first half of the twentieth century, Wari type artifacts found near the Pacific were attributed to Tiwanaku, and their peculiarities were identified as a coastal variant. When the Spaniards arrived in the Andes in the sixteenth century, they recorded a myth placing the origin of the gods and governors of the Inka Empire in the mysterious Lake Titicaca. On the lakeshore in Tiahuanaco, one could still see the ruins of strange buildings, different from those of the Inka, and certainly empty before the sixteenth century. Wari constituted a synthesis of the advances that the Andean culture had achieved up to the sixth century, both in the north and south. The inhabitants of Chimú territory in the fifteenth century spoke a language that was totally different from Quechua or Aymara. It was identified as the "Yunka language" by Quechua speakers.
  • 7 - Chiefdoms: The Prevalence and Persistence of “Señoríos Naturales” 1400 to European Conquest
    pp 577-667
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter discusses chiefdoms/señoríos in four sections. The first section considers what Europeans saw and reported at contact, and how their views and categorizations of societies correspond to models of sociopolitical organization. The second section discusses the structure and process in Chibcha chiefdoms of the Colombian altiplano. The third section provides a general overview of chiefdoms in regions that remained independent of Inka rule. The fourth section deals with chiefdoms that lost autonomy as they were overrun by the Inka in the fifteenth century and integrated into the empire. Generally, groups that the Spaniards called behetrías would be identified by anthropologists today as egalitarian societies, bands, and tribes. Bands had as their basic unit of organization the nuclear or extended family. A higher level of centralization and expansion, one that involved almost all the communities in Chibcha domain, was characterized by regional alliances of cacicazgos based on politics, kinship, marriage, economic relations, and religious belief and practice.
  • 8 - Archaeology of the Caribbean Region
    pp 668-733
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Nature has often raised the most formidable barriers ever experienced by humans in their developments; oceans, deserts, forests, and mountains have served to divide and isolate peoples from the very beginnings of human existence. The more precise boundaries of the Caribbean Sea originate in the north at the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and Belize. The mainland of the South American continent set the Caribbean's shores to the west, and the West Indian islands mark its eastern and northern boundaries in the form of a massive barrier to the open Atlantic. The Archaic Age especially is the period of the first experimentation with plant domestication, especially the two major staples of the Caribbean region, corn in the west and manioc in the east. The origin of a human population in the West Indies is a phenomenon that represents the last major human expansion in a major part of the world.
  • 9 - Prehistory of the Southern Cone
    pp 734-768
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Southern Cone has common cultural features from the Chaco to Patagonia, and from late prehispanic to recent times. Under familiar social-evolutionist assumptions, the Southern Cone has often been called "marginal" because nearly all of it lay outside the political realm of the Inka and because its native societies operated with simple technologies and small populations. Groups living in the huge spaces south and east of the South-Central Andes inhabited four spatial units comprising the Southern Cone proper: the Chaco, the Pampas, Araucania, and Patagonia. This chapter describes a prehistoric vision of the peoples of these territories, starting from the moment when their societies began to build social complexity by using a technology that allowed domestication of the environment. The pottery record does seem to portray the transformation of Mapuche subsistence from pure horticulture to a fully agricultural and sedentary way of life.
  • 10 - The Fourfold Domain: Inka Power and Its Social Foundations
    pp 769-863
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    At the time of the Spanish invasion, the Inka ruled the largest empire the New World had ever seen. It extended from the sacred center of Qusqu, now called Qosqo, Cusco or Cuzco, northward along the spine of the Andes through what are today Peru, Ecuador, and southernmost Colombia, as well as southward into Bolivia, northern Chile, and northwestern Argentina. The rapid rise of Tawantinsuyu, as the Inka called their empire, was as spectacular as its geographic extent. The Quechua name could be glossed 'four parts united among themselves' or 'fourfold domain'. The Inka took the idols of newly conquered peoples to Cusco, where they were regarded as honored hostages. Inka wealth rested on access to three sources of revenue: labor, land, and herds. The visual strength and clarity of Inka art, as well as its repetitiveness, can be understood as the result of its official nature.
  • 11 - The Crises And Transformations of Invaded Societies: The Caribbean (1492–1580)
    pp 864-903
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.013
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The native populations of the region that the Europeans came to call Caribbean were the first to negotiate the new realities to which this encounter gave rise, as well as to endure the ecological and demographic consequences of that arrival. The Caribbean was thus center stage in the crises and transformations of the indigenous societies of the Americas during the fateful years 1492-1580. By 1500 most of the complex native polities of Española had ceased to operate autonomously. The native networks of gold trading that the doradistas so eagerly hoped to intersect ultimately connected both the Caribbean islands and the western coasts of Tierra Firme to the heartland of the Colombian sierras. Dramatic population losses, through either war or disease, provided the demographic context for the emergence of new leaders and new visions of how Amerindian people might respond to the crisis of European invasion.
  • 12 - The Crises and Transformations of Invaded Societies: Andean Area (1500–1580)
    pp 904-972
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Andes became part of an expanding Europe, and more specifically, of the Spanish empire, the most powerful European political structure of the sixteenth century. This chapter examines the period from 1500 to 1580, the period usually classified as the Spanish conquest. The conquest of the Andes began from Panama. From the death of Atawallpa, the Quito-based contender, Pizarro moved through the Andes founding Spanish cities and assigning control over Andean polities to Spaniards in recognition of their services in the region. The European invasion of the Americas took place against a background of economic and social tension in Europe. At the apex of Inka society, Spanish destruction moved fast. By the 1550s little was left of Cusco's great solar temple, and its complex galaxy of aligned shrines could be served clandestinely at best. But the crisis of the disintegration of the Inka state and the Spanish invasion apparently brought in its wake a multiplication of regional deities.
  • 13 - The Crises and Transformations of Invaded Societies: Coastal Brazil in the Sixteenth Century
    pp 973-1024
    • By John Monteiro, Universidade Estadual de Campinas and Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521630757.015
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The enormous cultural and linguistic diversity of lowland South America presented a stiff challenge to sixteenth-century Portuguese observers, in spite of their considerable experience with the intricate political configurations of coastal Africa, South Asia, and the Far East. Most of the coastal societies came to be called Tupi, and their language the lingua geral da cost. In linguistic terms, societies belonging to at least forty distinct language families flourished during the sixteenth century within the present territorial limits of Brazil. The coastal Tupi, speakers of the lingua geral, as well as the southern Guarani, all spoke related dialects of Tupi-Guarani, one of nine known language families in the Tupi trunk. Migration provided the most effective method of combatting the pernicious effects of disease, slavery, and confinement to missions. The challenges of contact and conquest introduced new pressures, which, in the long run, eroded age old patterns and contributed to the decline of indigenous coastal Brazil.

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