Archaeological research is uniquely positioned to show how native history and native culture affected the course of colonial interaction, but to do so it must transcend colonialist ideas about Native American technological and social change. This book applies that insight to five hundred years of native history. Using data from a wide variety of geographical, temporal, and cultural settings, the contributors examine economic, social, and political stability and transformation in indigenous societies before and after the advent of Europeans and document the diversity of native colonial experiences. The book’s case studies range widely, from sixteenth-century Florida, to the Great Plains, to nineteenth-century coastal Alaska.
The contributors address a series of interlocking themes. Several consider the role of indigenous agency in the processes of colonial interaction, paying particular attention to gender and status. Others examine the ways long-standing native political economies affected, and were in turn affected by, colonial interaction. A third group explores colonial-period ethnogenesis, emphasizing the emergence of new native social identities and relations after 1500. The book also highlights tensions between the detailed study of local cases and the search for global processes, a recurrent theme in postcolonial research.
If archaeologists are to bridge the artificial divide separating history from prehistory, they must overturn a whole range of colonial ideas about American Indians and their history. This book shows that empirical archaeological research can help replace long-standing models of indigenous culture change rooted in colonialist narratives with more nuanced, multilinear models of change—and play a major role in decolonizing knowledge about native peoples.
Drawing from forty-five years of experience, E. Richard Hart elucidates the use of history as expert testimony in American Indian tribal litigation. Such lawsuits deal with aboriginal territory; hunting, fishing, and plant gathering rights; reservation boundaries; water rights; federal recognition; and other questions that have a historical basis. The methodology necessary to assemble successful expert testimony for tribes is complex and demanding and the legal cases have serious implications for many thousands of people, perhaps for generations.
Hart, a historian who has testified in cases that have resulted in roughly a billion dollars in judgments, uses specific cases to explain at length what kind of historical research and documentation is necessary for tribes seeking to protect and claim their rights under United States law. He demonstrates the legal questions that Native Americans face by exploring the cultural history and legal struggles of six Indian nations. He recounts how these were addressed by expert testimony grounded in thorough historical understanding, research, and argumentation. The case studies focus on the Wenatchi, Coeur d’Alene, Hualapai, Amah Mutsun, Klamath, and Zuni peoples but address issues relevant to many American tribes.
An intimate ethnographic narrative of one indigenous family in the twentieth-century Caribbean
Among the Garifuna is the first ethnographic narrative of a Garifuna family. The Garifuna are descendants of the “Black Carib,” whom the British deposited on Roatan Island in 1797 and who settled along the Caribbean coast from Belize City to Nicaragua.
In 1980, medical anthropologist Marilyn McKillop Wells found herself embarking on an “improbable journey” when she was invited to the area to do fieldwork with the added challenge of revealing the “real” Garifuna. Upon her arrival on the island, Wells was warmly embraced by a local family, the Diegos, and set to work recording life events and indigenous perspectives on polygyny, Afro-indigenous identity, ancestor-worshiping religion, and more. The result, as represented in Among the Garifuna, is a lovingly intimate, earthy human drama.
The family narrative is organized chronologically. Part I, “The Old Ways,” consists of vignettes that introduce the family backstory with dialogue as imagined by Wells based on the family history she was told. We meet the family progenitors, Margaret and Cervantes Diego, during their courtship, experience Margaret’s pain as Cervantes takes a second wife, witness the death of Cervantes and ensuing mourning rituals, follow the return of Margaret and the children to their previous home in British Honduras, and observe the emergence of the children’s personalities.
In Part II, “Living There,” Wells continues the story when she arrives in Belize and meets the Diego children, including the major protagonist, Tas. In Tas’s household Wells learns about foods and manners and watches family squabbles and reconciliations. In these mini-stories, Wells interweaves cultural information on the Garifuna people with first-person narrative and transcription of their words, assembling these into an enthralling slice of life. Part III, “The Ancestor Party,” takes the reader through a fascinating postmortem ritual that is enacted to facilitate the journey of the spirits of the honored ancestors to the supreme supernatural.
Among the Garifuna contributes to the literary genres of narrative anthropology and feminist ethnography in the tradition of Zora Neal Hurston and other women writing culture in a personal way. Wells’s portrait of this Garifuna family will be of interest to anthropologists, Caribbeanists, Latin Americanists, students, and general readers alike.
In Cherokee Asegi udanto refers to people who either fall outside of men’s and women’s roles or who mix men’s and women’s roles. Asegi, which translates as “strange,” is also used by some Cherokees as a term similar to “queer.” For author Qwo-Li Driskill, asegi provides a means by which to reread Cherokee history in order to listen for those stories rendered “strange” by colonial heteropatriarchy.
As the first full-length work of scholarship to develop a tribally specific Indigenous Queer or Two-Spirit critique, Asegi Stories examines gender and sexuality in Cherokee cultural memory, how they shape the present, and how they can influence the future.
The theoretical and methodological underpinnings of Asegi Stories derive from activist, artistic, and intellectual genealogies, referred to as “dissent lines” by Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith. Driskill intertwines Cherokee and other Indigenous traditions, women of color feminisms, grassroots activisms, queer and Trans studies and politics, rhetoric, Native studies, and decolonial politics. Drawing from oral histories and archival documents in order to articulate Cherokee-centered Two-Spirit critiques, Driskill contributes to the larger intertribal movements for social justice.
Despite the force of Oregon’s founding mythology, the Willamette Valley was not an empty Eden awaiting settlement by hardy American pioneers. Rather, it was, as Melinda Jetté explores in At the Hearth of the Crossed Races, one of the earliest sites of extensive intercultural contact in the Pacific Northwest.
Jetté’s study focuses on the “hearth” of this contact: French Prairie, so named for the French-Indian families who resettled the homeland of the Ahantchuyuk Kalapuyans. Although these families sought a middle course in their relations with their various neighbors, their presence ultimately contributed to the Anglo-American colonization of the region. By establishing farming and husbandry operations in the valley, the French-Indian settlers enhanced the Willamette Valley’s appeal as a destination of choice for the Anglo-Americans who later emigrated to the Pacific Northwest via the Oregon Trail.
Upon these emigrants’ arrival, the social space for the people of the “crossed races” diminished considerably, as the Anglo-Americans instituted a system of settler colonialism based on racial exclusion. Like their Native kin, the French-Indian families pursued various strategies to navigate the changing times and Jetté’s study of French Prairie takes on the relationships among all three: the French-Indian families, the indigenous peoples, and the Anglo-American settlers.
With At the Hearth of the Crossed Races, Jetté delivers a social history that deepens our understanding of the Oregon Country in the nineteenth century. This history of French Prairie provides a window into the multi-racial history of the Pacific Northwest and offers an alternative vision of early Oregon in the lives of the biracial French-Indian families whose community challenged notions of white supremacy, racial separation, and social exclusion.
Nahuatl-speaking women and men left last wills in their own tongue during an era when the written tradition of their language was generally assumed to have ended. Describing their world in testaments clustered around epidemic cycles, they responded to profound changes in population, land use, and local governance with astonishing vibrancy.
The Aztecs at Independence offers the first internal ethnographic view of these central Mexican indigenous communities in the critical transitional time of Independence. Miriam Melton-Villanueva uses previously unknown Nahuatl-language sources—primarily last wills and testaments—to provide a comprehensive understanding of indigenous societies during the transition from colonial to postcolonial times. The book describes the cultural life of people now called Nahuas or Mexicas in the nineteenth century—based on their own words, their own written records. The book uses previously unknown, unstudied, and untranslated indigenous texts to bring Nahua society into history, fleshing out glimpses of daily life in the early nineteenth century. Thus, The Aztecs at Independence describes life at the most local level: Nahua lineages of ritual and writing, guilds and societies, the people that take turns administering festivals and attending to the last wishes of the dying.
Interwoven with personal stories and memory, The Aztecs at Independence invites a general audience along on a scholarly journey, where readers are asked to imagine Nahua concepts and their contemporary meanings that give light to modern problems.