North American Indians: A Very Short Introduction

Oxford University Press
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When Europeans first arrived in North America, between five and eight million indigenous people were already living there. But how did they come to be here? What were their agricultural, spiritual, and hunting practices? How did their societies evolve and what challenges do they face today? Eminent historians Theda Perdue and Michael Green begin by describing how nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers followed the bison and woolly mammoth over the Bering land mass between Asia and what is now Alaska between 25,000 and 15,000 years ago, settling throughout North America. They describe hunting practices among different tribes, how some made the gradual transition to more settled, agricultural ways of life, the role of kinship and cooperation in Native societies, their varied burial rites and spiritual practices, and many other features of Native American life. Throughout the book, Perdue and Green stress the great diversity of indigenous peoples in America, who spoke more than 400 different languages before the arrival of Europeans and whose ways of life varied according to the environments they settled in and adapted to so successfully. Most importantly, the authors stress how Native Americans have struggled to maintain their sovereignty--first with European powers and then with the United States--in order to retain their lands, govern themselves, support their people, and pursue practices that have made their lives meaningful. Going beyond the stereotypes that so often distort our views of Native Americans, this Very Short Introduction offers a historically accurate, deeply engaging, and often inspiring account of the wide array of Native peoples in America. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
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About the author

Theda Perdue is Atlanta Distinguished Professor of Southern Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of many books, including Sifters:Native American Women's Lives and Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700-1835. She is past president of the Southern Association for Women Historians and the American Society for Ethnohistory, and will serve as president of the Southern Historical Association in 2011. Michael D. Green is Professor Emeritus of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has held fellowships from the Newberry Library and the Rockefeller Foundation and is former chair of the Native American Studies Program at Dartmouth College.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Aug 10, 2010
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Pages
160
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ISBN
9780199746101
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Native American
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / Native American
History / North America
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Native American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Theda Perdue
On the southern frontier in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, European men--including traders, soldiers, and government agents--sometimes married Native women. Children of these unions were known by whites as "half-breeds." The Indian societies into which they were born, however, had no corresponding concepts of race or "blood." Moreover, counter to European customs and laws, Native lineage was traced through the mother only. No familial status or rights stemmed from the father.

"Mixed Blood" Indians looks at a fascinating array of such birth- and kin-related issues as they were alternately misunderstood and astutely exploited by both Native and European cultures. Theda Perdue discusses the assimilation of non-Indians into Native societies, their descendants' participation in tribal life, and the white cultural assumptions conveyed in the designation "mixed blood." In addition to unions between European men and Native women, Perdue also considers the special cases arising from the presence of white women and African men and women in Indian society.

From the colonial through the early national era, "mixed bloods" were often in the middle of struggles between white expansionism and Native cultural survival. That these "half-breeds" often resisted appeals to their "civilized" blood helped foster an enduring image of Natives as fickle allies of white politicians, missionaries, and entrepreneurs. "Mixed Blood" Indians rereads a number of early writings to show us the Native outlook on these misperceptions and to make clear that race is too simple a measure of their--or any peoples'--motives.

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