January 2, 2002
Books &Working Papers
Collated by Howard Hobbs, Ph.D.
YOSEMITE -- The following
list of books, abstracts and related notes, some of which refer
to the Amerindian experience, were presented at the 1998
meeting of the Atlantic History Seminar, Harvard College
on the theme "Cultural Encounters in Atlantic Societies,
Claudio Saunt, "The Power of
Writing: Literacy and the Colonization of Southeastern Indians"
-- Historians have long debated the degree to which American Indians
were awed by alphabetic writing, but well after it had lost its
power to amaze and astonish, writing disrupted American Indian communities
and shaped cultural encounters in the Atlantic world. Oral communication,
and especially storytelling, diffused tensions within Indian groups
and helped them maintain cohesive identities.
Because their colonial neighbors privileged writing
over speech, however, Indians began devaluing spoken words. At the
same time, some Native Americans appropriated writing to secure
their leadership. Among the Creek Indians of the Deep South, writing
undermined the loose alliance that defined these people and ultimately
facilitated the consolidation of political power. [Harvard Working
Paper # 98]
John Pollack, "Colonial Missionaries
and Indian Languages in North America, 1600-1700" Discussion
-- Texts that show English and French missionaries struggling to
learn and to represent Indian speech and Indian languages are not
simple linguistic records, but instead markers of debates within
colonies and between colonists and Native populations.
New French Jesuits and Ursulines sought
to master Indian languages as a means of including Native tribes
within the French colonial orbit, while New England Puritans initiated
a massive effort to print in an "Indian language" for
separate Native Christian communities.
Comprehending the languages of Native America
proved to be an unexpected challenge, however, one to which missionaries
ultimately responded by drawing newly rigid distinctions between
"civilized" and "savage." [HWP# 98016]
Michael Witgen, "'They Have for Neighbors and Friends
the Sioux': The Migration, Adaptation, and Transformation of the
Western Ojibwas in the Dakota-Ojibwa Alliance."
Confronted by the chaos and changes brought
by an encroaching Atlantic world in colonial North America, the
Western Ojibwas employed cultural adaptation as a survival strategy;
and with their success, they transformed themselves, the Dakotas,
and the French empire in Canada.
At the close of the seventeenth century
the Western Ojibwas forged an alliance with the Dakotas by creating
social ties that bound these different ethnic groups together. The
shared risk of their association and their connection to French
Canada gained by cooperating in the fur trade made allies out of
This pattern of creating social bonds through
joint land use reflected a process of peace making and social integration
by which the Ojibwa defined themselves. They brought order to a
changing environment by constructing social relationships that facilitated
migration, adaptation, and rebirth within a transformed physical
and social space. H[WP# 98021]
Ida Altman, Transatlantic Ties in the
Spanish Empire: Brihuega, Spain & Puebla, Mexico, 1560-1620
(Stanford University Press, 2000).
David Armitage, The Ideological Origins of the British
Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2000).
Jeremy Baskes, Indians, Merchants, and Markets: A Reinterpretation
of the Repartimiento and Spanish-Indian Economic Relations in Colonial
Oaxaca, 1750-1821 (Stanford University Press, 2000).
Richard W. Cogley, John Eliotís Mission to the Indians
before King Philipís War (Harvard Press 1990).
Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Indians & English: Facing
Off in Early America (Cornell University
Ned C. Landsman, From Colonials to Provincials: American
Thought and Culture, 1680-1760 (Cornell University Press, 2000)
[new in pb].
John McCusker, Essays in the Economic History of the
Atlantic World (Routledge, 1997).
Peter Mancall and James Merrell, eds., American
Encounters: Natives and Newcomers from European Contact to Indian
Removal, 1500-1850 (Routledge, 1999).
James H. Merrell, Into the American Woods: Negotiators
on the Pennsylvania Frontier (Norton, 2000).
David Murray, Indian Giving : Economies of Power in
Early Indian-White Exchanges (University of Massachusetts Press,
Claudio Saunt, A New Order of Things: Property, Power,
and the Transformation of the Creek Indian, 1733-1816 (Cambridge
University Press, 1999)..
Nicholas Canny, "Writing Atlantic History; or,
Reconfiguring the History of Colonial British America, Journal of
American History 86, no. 3 (Dec. 1999): 1093-1114.
Seth Cotlar, "Radical Conceptions of Property Rights
and Economic Equality in the Early American Republic: The Trans-Atlantic
Dimension," Explorations in Early American Culture 4 (2000):
Patricia Seed, "American Pentimento:
The Invention of Indians and the Pursuit of Riches." Discussion
-- Americans like to see themselves as far removed from their European
ancestors' corrupt morals, imperial arrogance, and exploitation
of native resources.
Yet, as Patricia Seed argues in American
Pentimento, this is far from the truth. The modern regulations
and pervading attitudes that control native rights in the Americas
may appear unrelated to colonial rule, but traces of the colonizers'
cultural, religious, and economic agendas nonetheless remain.
Seed likens this situation to a pentimento-a
painting in which traces of older compositions or alterations become
visible over time-and shows how the exploitation begun centuries
ago continues today.
In her analysis, Seed examines how European
countries, primarily England, Spain, and Portugal, differed in their
colonization of the Americas. She details how the English appropriated
land, while the Spanish and Portuguese attempted to eliminate "barbarous"
religious behavior and used indigenous labor to take mineral resources.
Ultimately, each approach denied native
people distinct aspects of their heritage. Seed argues that their
differing effects persist, with natives in former English colonies
fighting for land rights, while those in former Spanish and Portuguese
colonies fight for human dignity.
Seed also demonstrates how these antiquated
cultural and legal vocabularies are embedded in our languages, popular
cultures, and legal systems, and how they are responsible for current
representations and treatment of Native Americans.
We cannot, she asserts, simply attribute
the exploitation of natives' resources to distant, avaricious colonists
but must accept the more disturbing conclusion that it stemmed from
convictions that are still endemic in our culture.
Wide-ranging and essential to future discussions
of the legacies of colonialism, American Pentimento presents
a radical new approach to history, one which uses paradigms from
anthropology and literary criticism to emphasize language as the
basis of law and culture.
to the Editor