The Turtle Island Examiner
The second half of the eighteenth century became an age of prophecy in northeastern Native North America. Delaware and Seneca prophets visited the Master of Life in dream visions, Shawnee conjurers summoned avatars of the Great Spirit, and Ojibwa shamans sought guidance from the larger spirit world, whose denizens they invited to dwell in their bodies and minds. Most of these truth-seekers delivered from the spiritual plane a common message: whites and their lifeways threatened the well being of all Indians.
A research team has recently finished sequencing the mitochondrial DNA of nearly 100 mummified or skeletal Native American remains, from sites in Central and South America. From them it has reached some tentative conclusions about the ancestry of Native Americans.
I've just started digging into Masters of Empire, Michael McDonnell's new history of the Odawas, and I suspect it will become an influential work. The book boasts highly competent research, clarity of style, and an appealing argument: that the Anishinaabeg, not the French or British, called the political shots in the eighteenth-century Great Lakes country. In partial support of his thesis, McDonnell employs Brett Rushforth's interpretation of the Fox Wars, the most pronounced episode of internecine violence in the “French-era” Lakes region.
Until quite recently, few modern Americans, even historians, knew that many thousands, if not millions, of Native North Americans once lived and died in slavery. The publication in 2002 of James Brooks's Captives and Cousins and Alan Gallay's The Indian Slave Trade brought the bare fact and some of the dynamics of Indian slavery to the attention of scholars for the first time. In the decade since then, studies of indigenous enslavement in North America have multiplied, as many innovative ethnohistorians turned their attention to a once-unknown institution.
The Potawatomis, southernmost nation of the Three Fires confederacy, held a melancholy record as parties to the largest number of treaties with the U.S. government. Between 1826 and 1837, Potawatomi leaders signed 21 of these accords, an average of nearly two every year, deeding thereby virtually all of their land to the United States.
Thanks to a bad cold, an overdue review essay, and the usual constraints of a full academic schedule, your humble narrator has fallen behind with this week's (actually, last week's) update of the Turtle Island Examiner. While readers await our next entry, allow me to direct them to a new post on The Junto by our own Bryan Rindfleisch.
Your Humble Narrator first became interested in the medieval Norse encounter with Native Americans when he read Ecological Imperialism, Alfred Crosby's now-classic study of the role invasive species played in Europe’s colonial expansion. Crosby told a story of violence and failure, of Norse colonists who fought with and alienated the “skraelings” (their word for the Beothuks, Miqmaqs, and Inuit), and who failed to introduce the biological weapons, namely horses and smallpox, that would have let them conquer the mainland.
By a happy coincidence, the scholarly community has just provided a thoughtful, well-researched explanation of a historical anomaly reported in last year's press. In the spring of 2015 the Irish Examiner announced that Alex Pentek was working on a monument to those Cherokees and Choctaws who, in 1847, sent $800 in famine relief to the beleaguered Irish.
This year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Ethnohistory (November 4-8) unveiled a new wave of scholarship dedicated to immanently important themes and issues within Native American history. While the following panels represent only a fraction of the papers presented at the conference, the connections between the presenters and their research were remarkably similar. In particular, an emphasis on language and communication, along with space and place, emerged as recurring motifs throughout the meeting.
Last month the American Society for Ethnohistory held its annual meeting, which Your Humble Narrator had the privilege of attending. About 400 members and supporters of the Society convened in Las Vegas, not far from the Paiute creation site of Nuvagantu, to present their research and exchange ideas. For those not able to attend the ASE's 2015 conference, and for those who did but would like another couple of perspectives on the proceedings, Bryan Rindfleisch and I will be providing reports on the convention over the next couple of weeks.
Thanksgiving evokes complex emotions for many Americans. The holiday has much symbolic and emotional work to accomplish: it is a celebration of families (however dysfunctional), a harvest festival, an occasion for civic parades, a last rest before entering the Christmas shopping gauntlet, and an official holiday (for most of us) from work and school.
It has become a convention among Native Americanists, and American historians of a liberal or iconoclastic bent, that in discussing George Washington with students or the public we should remind them that the Six Nations of Iroquois called Washington the “Town Destroyer.” I first heard this in graduate school, and like many people assumed it referred to the Sullivan Expedition, the 1779 offensive Washington ordered against Iroquoia.
Longtime readers of The Economist, and you know you're out there, may recall the magazine's May 2011 cover story “Welcome to the Anthropocene.” The essay introduced many readers both to a neologism and to a new idea: that human beings have so profoundly altered the Earth's atmosphere, soil chemistry, and fossil record as to have left permanent physical evidence of their presence.
Malinda Maynor Lowery, whom I am honored to call my friend, observes in the introduction to Lumbees in the Jim Crow South (2010) that identity within the Lumbee nation hinges largely on the question “Who's your people?” (p.
We introduce today at H-AMINDIAN a new feature: a regular (initially biweekly) weblog on Native American Studies. Our blog will focus initially on Native North American history, the specialty of our first blog editor, but we intend to include guest posts from specialists in other disciplines, and (eventually) from indigenous-studies scholars focusing on other regions.