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The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas

Book description

This book provides the first comprehensive history of the Native Peoples of North America from their arrival in the western hemisphere to the present. It describes how Native Peoples have dealt with the environmental diversity of North America and have responded to the different European colonial regimes and national governments that have established themselves in recent centuries. It also examines the development of a pan-Indian identity since the nineteenth century and provides a comparison not found in other histories of how Native Peoples have fared in Canada and the United States.

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  • 1 - Native views of history
    pp 1-60
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521573924.002
  • View abstract
    Summary
    For some of today's American Indian cultural leaders, increasingly anxious over their people's shrinking intellectual heritage, the history which on its face seems social, political, and safe for public recounting often gets formally reglossed as religious property so as to safeguard it from appropriation by prying outsiders. When outsiders contrast the historical orientations and world-views of preindustrial, oral cultures like those of Native Americans with posttraditional, modern societies, they frequently polarize them into ideal types. As with the culture area concept in American Indian social anthropology which parcels the continent into broad ecological domains occupied by culturally similar peoples, the generic Myth/Legend/Folktale trinity in American Indian folklore is a clumsy but helpful outsider's tool for distinguishing traditional narratives. Each of these gross categories can be a repository for some kind of Indian historicity. As fiction by American Indians became popular in the 1970s, incorporating Native historicities appeared high on their list of artistic goals.
  • 2 - Native peoples in Euro-American historiography
    pp 61-124
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521573924.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Native American scholars have made their appearance, and share with non-Native ones the burden and opportunity of interpreting the past history of both groups. As disputes over land rights poisoned relations between English settlers and Native people during the seventeenth century, it became increasingly fashionable for European colonists to describe Indians as bloodthirsty monsters who were human only in the shape of their bodies. Many Euro-Americans anticipated that the total extinction of the American Indian would soon occur and sentimentally interpreted their replacement by European settlers as a tragic but minor episode in a drama of worldwide technological, moral, and intellectual progress. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the attention that historians paid to Native peoples in both the United States and Canada declined still further, as historians devoted ever more attention to the lengthening chronicle of the achievements of European settlers.
  • 3 - The first Americans and the differentiation of hunter-gatherer cultures
    pp 125-200
    • By Dean Snow, Pennsylvania State University
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521573924.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter examines the evidence for the arrival of human beings in the Americas and the subsequent development of American Indian and Inuit hunter-gatherer societies in North America. It explains how archaeologists build chronologies for periods prior to written records, and how colleagues in other disciplines reconstruct the environmental contexts of ancient societies. The chapter discusses the archaeological evidence for Paleo-Indians. Pleistocene geology has done much to clarify the physiography of Paleo-Indian America, helping archaeologists to understand the very different physical settings Paleo-Indian sites had from those that are apparent today. The changes in the vegetational environment had profound ecological implications for animal species adapted to it, as well as for the human populations that depended upon both for subsistence. The Archaic cultures of eastern North America are defined by the adaptations they initially made to an environment that had changed dramatically from Ice Age conditions, as well as by subsequent trends over several thousand years.
  • 4 - Indigenous farmers
    pp 201-266
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521573924.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The peoples of the eastern and southwestern United States followed very different paths in their development of farming economies and in their settlement systems, subsistence strategies, political institutions, and religious beliefs. This chapter explores the similarities and differences between these areas with respect to farming and a settled way of life. The period between about 1500 BC and AD 200, which archaeologists refer to as the Late Archaic, began with the introduction of corn, beans, and squash throughout most of the Southwest. Archaeologists use the appearance of painted ceramics to mark the end of this period. By 900 horticulture and a pattern of small village settlement had spread throughout the Southwest. Discontinuities in cultural patterns reflected in changes in artifact styles and architectural forms, in the past, have most often been attributed to migrations. The chapter also talks about the patterns of regional expansion in the south-west and the Late Woodland farmers of the East.
  • 5 - Agricultural chiefdoms of the Eastern Woodlands
    pp 267-324
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521573924.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The long and complex history of the eastern United States prior to European contact has often been viewed as being largely peripheral to, and derivative from, cultural developments in Mesoamerica. This tendency to look south of the border has been particularly pronounced in attempts to account for the agricultural chiefdoms that emerged around AD 1000, and flourished across much of the eastern United States right up to the arrival of Europeans. This chapter emphasizes regional variations on general aspects of Mississippian culture. It explains the developmental histories and socio-political organization of three of the better documented Mississippian polities at different levels of complexity. If all the known Mississippian settlements were plotted on a map of the Eastern Woodlands, the resulting pattern would closely follow the river systems of the region. These river-valley landscapes were shaped into characteristic, if ever changing, patterns by the force of seasonal floodwater.
  • 6 - Entertaining strangers: North America in the sixteenth century
    pp 325-398
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521573924.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In the sixteenth century relations between Europeans and Native Americans were based on encounters that varied greatly in their intensity, regularity, and duration. For the Native peoples who lived in the coastal areas, such encounters involved opportunities as well as dangers. This chapter examines the nature of these contacts, and assesses their biological consequences and Native responses to them. The most widespread and important impact of European contact upon Native people was the introduction of European diseases and the dramatic fall in population that these diseases brought about. The clearest impact was in the southeastern United States, where declining population played a major role in the simplification of the hierarchical societies that had evolved in this region and in the craft specialization associated with Mississippian cultures. In the Southeast large quantities of European goods were interred with high-ranking individuals. Native peoples employed a mixture of resistance and accommodation to deal with Europeans.
  • 7 - Native people and European settlers in eastern North America, 1600–1783
    pp 399-460
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521573924.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    As the seventeenth century opened, the relationship between Native peoples and Europeans in North America east of the Mississippi had an established history but uncertain future. The turn of the seventeenth century marked the beginning of competition among European nations to colonize North America. While coastal Indians confronted the decline of commercial trade, Natives in the interior experienced its advent. The decade of the 1660s marked a shift in the situation of Indians throughout much of eastern North America. Escalations of European settlement, of Indian-European trade, and of Anglo-French imperial competition led many groups to adopt new diplomatic and military strategies. The most immediate Native reaction to the expulsion of France came from Ohio and Great Lakes Indians, already desperately alarmed over Amherst's policies. The responses of Indians to the outbreak of war between Great Britain and its mainland colonies south of Canada varied greatly, depending both on recent events and longer-standing ties.
  • 8 - The expansion of European colonization to the Mississippi Valley, 1780–1880
    pp 461-538
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521573924.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    For Eastern Indians and the United States both, the century from 1780 to 1880 was a period of experimentation, learning, adjusting, and ultimately, struggling for dominance over the land and its resources. By engaging in treaty relations with Native nations, Europeans recognized the actuality of sovereignty even as they frequently rejected its legality. The Revolutionary War was significant in the histories of the eastern Indians, but for most the immediate effects were less noticeable than was the long-range impact. In arguing that the British grant was illegal and the claims of Congress and the states were spurious, Alexander McGillivray was instrumental in forging a Creek policy of reaction and resistance. The US government's plan of civilization offered one model for survival. The removal law of 1830 authorized the president to arrange by treaty the exchange of western lands for the holdings of all the Native nations east of the Mississippi.

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