Skip to main content
The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Recommend this book

    Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

    The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas
    • Online ISBN: 9781139055550
    • Book DOI:
    Please enter your name
    Please enter a valid email address
    Who would you like to send this to? *
  • Buy the print book

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.


    • Aa
    • Aa
Refine List
Actions for selected content:
Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send:

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.
  • 1 - Native views of history
    pp 1-60
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    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
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    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
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    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
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    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
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    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
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    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
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    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
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    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.

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

William Bascom The Forms of Folklore,” Journal of American Folklore 78 (1965).

Robert Brightman Primitivism in Missinippi Cree Historical Consciousness,” Man 25 (1990).

Percy Cohen Theories of Myth,” Man (1969).

Bernard S. Cohn History and Anthropology: The State of Play,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 22 (1980).

Paul Connerton How Societies Remember (Cambridge, 1989).

Gordon M. Day Oral Tradition as Complement,” Ethnohistory 19 (1972).

Alan Dundes The Study of Folklore in Literature and Culture: Identification and Interpretation,” Journal of American Folklore 78 (1965).

Fred Eggan Anthropological Approaches to Ethnological Cultures,” Ethnohistory 8(1) (1961).

John C. Ewers When Red and White Men Met,” Western Historical Quarterly 2(3) (1971).

George Foster Peasant Society and the Image of the Limited Good,” American Anthropologist 67 (1965).

Esther S. Goldfrank The Impact of Situation and Personality on Four Hopi Emergence Myths,” Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 4 (1948).

Madronna Holden Making All the Crooked Ways Straight: The Satirical Portrait of Whites in Coast Salish Folklore,” Journal of American Folklore 89 (1976).

Gail Landsman and Sara Ciborski , ”Representation and Politics: Contesting Histories of the Iroquois,” Cultural Anthropology 7 (1992).

Claude Lévi-Strauss When Myth Becomes History,” in Myth and Meaning (New York, 1978).

Robert H. Lowie Oral Tradition and History,” American Anthropologist 17 (1915).

Robert H. Lowie Oral Tradition and History,” Journal of American Folklore 30 (1917).

Calvin Martin Ethnohistory: A Better Way to Write Indian History,” Western Historical Quarterly 9(1) (1978).

Kenneth M. Morrison Towards a History of Intimate Encounters: Algonkian Folklore, Jesuit Missionaries, and Kiwakwe, The Cannibal Giant,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 3(4) (1979).

Frank Russell Pima Annals,” American Anthropologist 5 (1903).

B. Sheehan Paradise and the Noble Savage,” William and Mary Quarterly 26 (1969).

Marion Smith Mandan History as Reflected in Butterfly’s Winter Count,” Ethnohistory 7 (1960).

Harry Holbert Turney-High Two Kutenai Stories,” Journal of American Folklore 54(213–14) (1941).

Thomas Vennum Jr., “Ojibwa Origin-Migration Songs of the Mitewiwin,” Journal of American Folklore 91 (1978).

Andrew O. Wiget Truth and the Hopi: An Historiographic Study of Documented Oral Tradition Concerning the Coming of the Spanish,” Ethnohistory 29 (1982).

Gary Witherspoon Language and Art in the Navajo Universe (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1977).

Axtell , “Invading America: Puritans and Jesuits,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 14 (1984).

Richard O. Clemmer The Hopi Traditionalist Movement,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 18(3) (1994).

James A. Clifton The Tribal History–An Obsolete Paradigm,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 3 (4) (1979).

Clifford Geertz Distinguished Lecture: Anti-Relativism,” American Anthropologist 86 (1984).

D. J. Meltzer The Antiquity of Man and the Development of American Archaeology,” in M. B. Schiffer (ed.), Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory (New York, 1983), 6.

Peter Novick That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession (New York, 1988).

D. K. Richter War and Culture: The Iroquois Experience,” William and Mary Quarterly 40 (1983).

Edward Sapir Time Perspective in Aboriginal American Culture (Ottawa, 1916)

Elizabeth Tooker The United States Constitution and the Iroquois League,” Ethnohistory 35 (1988).

Trigger , “Archaeology and the Ethnographic Present,” Anthropologica 23 (1981).

Alden Vaughan From White Man to Redskin: Changing Anglo-American Perceptions of the American Indian,” American Historical Review 87 (1982).

Wilcomb E. Washburn Anthropological Advocacy in the Hopi-Navajo Land Dispute,” American Anthropologist 91 (1989).

Brian Hayden Technological Transitions among Hunter-gatherers,” Current Anthropology 22 (1981).

David Sanger Prehistory of the Pacific Northwest Plateau as Seen from the Interior of British Columbia,” American Antiquity 32 (1967).

Stephen H. Lekson The Idea of the Kiva in Anasazi Archaeology,” The Kiva 53 (1988).

Bruce D. Smith Science 246 (1989).

Wirt H. Wills Early Agriculture and Sedentism in the American Southwest: Evidence and Interpretations,” Journal of World Prehistory, 2 (1988).

Kathleen A. Deagan Mestizaje in Colonial St. Augustine,” Ethnohistory 20 (1973).

Charles Hudson Marvin Smith , David Hally , Richard Polhemus , and Chester DePratter , “Coosa: A Chiefdom in the Sixteenth-century United States,” American Antiquity 50 (1985).

Christopher L. Miller and George R. Hamell , “A New Perspective on Indian-White Contact: Cultural Symbols and Colonial Trade,” Journal of American History 73 (1986).

Virginia P. Miller Aboriginal Micmac Population: A Review of the Evidence,” Ethnohistory 23 (1976)

Marshall T. Newman Aboriginal New World Epidemiology and Medical Care, and the Impact of the Old World Disease Imports,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 45 (1976).

Carroll L. Riley Mesoamerican Indians in the Early Southwest,” Ethnohistory 21 (1974)

Dean R. Snow and William A. Starna , “Sixteenth-century Depopulation: A View from the Mohawk Valley,” American Anthropologist 91 (1989)

Bruce G. Trigger Early Native North American Responses to European Contact: Romantic versus Rationalistic Interpretations,” Journal of American History 77 (1991)

Laurier Turgeon Pour redécouvrir notre 16e siècle: les pêches à Terre-Neuve d’après les archives notariales de Bourdeaux,” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française 39 (1986).

Bruce M. White Encounters with Spirits: Ojibwa and Dakota Theories about the French and Their Merchandise,” Ethnohistory 41 (1994).

Douglas H. Ubelaker North American Indian Population Size, A.D. 1500 to 1985,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 77 (1988)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 473 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 222 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th March 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.