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FW: Richardson on Perdue, _The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast_

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  • A.J. Wright
    fyi..aj wright // ajwright@uab.edu ... From: H-Net Reviews [mailto:books@H-NET.MSU.EDU] Sent: Friday, April 18, 2003 2:51 AM To: H-REVIEW@H-NET.MSU.EDU
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      From: H-Net Reviews [mailto:books@...]
      Sent: Friday, April 18, 2003 2:51 AM
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      Subject: Richardson on Perdue, _The Columbia Guide to American Indians_

      Published by H-AmIndian@... (March, 2003)

      Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green. _The Columbia Guide to American
      Indians of the Southeast_. The Columbia Guides to American Indian
      History and Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. xv +
      305 pp. Illustrations, maps, bibliographical references, index.
      $45.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-231-11570-9.

      Reviewed for H-AmIndian by Anne E. Richardson
      <ARichardson@...>, Department of History, Texas
      Christian University

      Sovereignty in the Southeast

      With this first volume of a seven-volume reference series on
      American Indian history and culture, Theda Perdue and Michael D.
      Green have added another title to an impressive body of scholarship
      about native peoples of the region extending from the Mississippi
      River to the Tidewater. Perdue, professor of history at the
      University of North Carolina, is known for her contributions to
      native gender studies and oral history research, particularly with
      respect to the Cherokee Nation. Green, professor of American
      Studies at the University of North Carolina, has examined cultural
      conflict brought on by political conflict, with particular emphasis
      on the Creek Nation. These tribes and others who first inhabited
      the area now comprising the states of Louisiana, Mississippi,
      Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas are described in a
      concise and highly useful format for anyone interested in the
      history of Native Americans of this region. The authors propose to
      educate their readers on the complex issues surrounding native
      sovereignty today by detailing tribal histories and cultural
      developments over the span of their known existence in North

      The volume is organized into four sections for ease of reference.
      Part 1 details the history of indigenous Southeasterners, focusing
      upon the best-known tribes, those who removed to what became
      Oklahoma Territory in the nineteenth century. Chapter 1 presents a
      chronological overview of the historical debate regarding native
      sovereignty, from early accounts of victimization through
      factionalism, dependence, and agency, to arrive at what the authors
      term a more appropriate methodological discipline, ethnohistory. By
      examining native cultures from a native perspective, incorporating
      both cultural study and traditional factual history, Perdue and
      Green propose that a more accurate and more relevant perspective of
      current conflicts over sovereignty issues is possible. Such an
      approach requires examination of archaeological and documentary
      evidence as well as oral history traditions preserved by native

      Chapter 2 examines the evolution from Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and
      Woodland culture to the thriving Mississippian mound culture
      encountered by early European explorers, particularly Spanish
      conquistadors. The consequences of European contact, especially
      depopulation and organizational degeneration, are outlined in
      chapter 3, concluding with a depiction of the resulting tribal clan
      structure. Those who survived the onslaught of disease adapted to
      new communal societies, without the powerful regional kings of
      Mississippian times. Chapter 4 details the complex interactions
      between European nations aspiring to establish colonial empires in
      the region inhabited by native Southeasterners. As these ambitions
      erupted into a series of wars pursuing domination of the continent
      and its inhabitants, tribes residing in this region continually
      suffered disruption and destruction from repeated efforts to obtain
      their support or prevent their influence in the outcomes.

      In chapter 5, the authors follow the course of events between
      Southeastern native peoples and the infant American Republic. Early
      attempts to offer "civilization" programs as payment for land
      cessions exacted from these tribes acknowledged them as sovereign
      entities, not "conquered nations." The Creek War erupted in 1811 as
      a more localized episode of the larger Pan-Indian movement
      represented by Tecumseh's intertribal alliance in the North. Andrew
      Jackson's ruthless military campaign to crush the uprising
      reinforced attitudes of military as well as cultural superiority
      over native peoples. Chapter 6 explores the fate of those tribal
      members who relocated to Oklahoma Territory during the years of
      forced removal in the 1830s. Factionalism that had developed over
      resistance to removal had to be surmounted before prosperous,
      peaceful settlements could rebuild their respective nations. No
      sooner had civil strife within the tribes been resolved than the
      eruption of the Civil War rekindled those animosities. The flurry
      of economic development, especially railroad expansion, brought new
      problems for tribal authorities to confront, with diminishing
      authority compared to the expanding white political bureaucracy.
      The individual allotment system imposed by the Dawes Severalty Act
      in 1887 effectively destroyed tribal autonomy, and admission of
      Oklahoma to the union of states in 1907 completed the evisceration
      of native sovereignty for the nations from the Southeastern region.
      The last section of this chapter discusses ongoing efforts to regain
      sovereignty into the twentieth century. Finally, chapter 7
      discusses the continuing struggle for autonomy during the twentieth
      century, from the New Deal enactment of the Indian Reorganization
      Act to the adoption of a federal policy of self-determination in the
      1970s, all the while confronting problems posed by racism and lack
      of economic opportunity.

      Parts 2, 3, and 4 offer a wealth of reference information. Part 2
      provides encyclopedic identifications of specific persons, places,
      and events critical to understanding the histories of the tribes
      examined in this comprehensive study. The authors admit that not
      every noteworthy person and event could be included in a volume of
      this scope, but close inspection reveals very few omissions. The
      chronology that comprises part 3 skillfully clarifies sequences of
      events occurring to various Southeastern tribes over the span of
      known history. Part 4 offers detailed research resource
      information, including names and contact addresses of recognized
      tribal groups, an extensive bibliography discussing primary and
      secondary published material, and a list of museums and historical
      sites open to the public. Only archival source locations have been
      omitted, and these intentionally so, as the authors found these too
      numerous to present in detail.

      Any student or individual interested in pursuing the history of
      Native Americans of the Southeastern United States could benefit
      richly from this wonderful compilation of information into a concise
      reference work. The authors have presented a balanced discussion of
      many indigenous peoples in an engaging style and format, well
      supported by extensive research into their subjects.

      Copyright (c) 2003 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits
      the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit,
      educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the
      author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and
      H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For other uses
      contact the Reviews editorial staff: hbooks@mail.h-net.msu.edu.
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