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The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast

The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast

Theda Perdue
Michael D. Green
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast
    Book Description:

    Though they speak several different languages and organize themselves into many distinct tribes, the Native American peoples of the Southeast share a complex ancient culture and a tumultuous history. This volume examines and synthesizes their history through each of its integral phases: the complex and elaborate societies that emerged and flourished in the Pre-Columbian period; the triple curse of disease, economic dependency, and political instability brought by the European invasion; the role of Native Americans in the inter-colonial struggles for control of the region; the removal of the "Five Civilized Tribes" to Oklahoma; the challenges and adaptations of the post-removal period; and the creativity and persistence of those who remained in the Southeast.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50602-1
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xv)

    The Native peoples of the Southeastern United States have regionally unique cultures and histories. By the time of European contact, the cultivation of corn, squash, and beans enabled them to establish chiefdoms with a hierarchical social structure, complex ritual life, and monumental architecture in the form of temple mounds. The European invasion dramatically altered this culture through disease, economic dependency, and the erosion of political autonomy. When the Europeans who claimed the South as their own found that wealth lay in the soil, Native people became obstacles to the exploitation of the land. By the mid-nineteenth century the large Indian...

  5. Maps
    (pp. xvi-xxii)
  6. Part I. History and Culture

    • 1 Writing About Native Southerners
      (pp. 3-19)

      The Native peoples of the Southeast share common cultural features and a rich history. Long before the arrival of Europeans, they began to cultivate corn, beans, squash, and other crops. Agriculture enabled their societies to live in relatively permanent villages, develop a social/political/religious hierarchy, construct an elaborate ceremonial complex, and support a large population. The European invasion disrupted this way of life, but Native Southerners displayed remarkable adaptability. They drew on their precontact cultural traditions to sustain their villages, beliefs, and social systems, but they also entered into commercial and diplomatic relations with Europeans that produced substantial change. Native people...

    • 2 Native Southerners
      (pp. 20-33)

      The first sentence of Charles Hudson’s landmark ethnography of Southeastern Indians reads, “The native people of the American South—the Southeastern Indians—possessed the richest culture of any of the native people north of Mexico.”¹ When Hudson wrote that line, he was thinking of the people of the Mississippian societies who lived in the South when the first European explorers entered the region and began to write their descriptions of Southeastern Indians. The accounts of those sixteenth-century Spanish explorers—Hernando de Soto and others—drew word pictures of societies marked by levels of social, political, economic, and spiritual complexity that...

    • 3 The European Invasion
      (pp. 34-49)

      The European invasion of the South formally began with the arrival of Ponce de Leon on the peninsula he named Florida in 1513. While shipwrecked sailors may well have preceded him, De Leon’s expedition, which was partly exploratory but mostly a slave raid, initiated a century of repeated attempts by the Spanish to discover wealth in the Southeast (see slavery). Early Spanish interest in Indians was limited to their usefulness as laborers, hostages, porters, sexual partners, purveyors of food, interpreters, and guides. Nevertheless, Spanish chroniclers who accompanied the conquistadores have provided us with the first written accounts of the Native...

    • 4 Native Peoples and Colonial Empires
      (pp. 50-71)

      When Christopher Columbus sailed into the Caribbean Sea in 1492 under the flag of Spain, he began the process by which Europe laid claim to America. That claim extended not only to the land and its resources but also to the Native people who for thousands of years had lived on the land and used it as their own. Columbus and other Spaniards followed that initial voyage to establish colonial settlements in the islands, explore neighboring lands and, beginning in 1519, invade and conquer the Native empires of the mainland. Spain’s success sparked competition, and soon England and France entered...

    • 5 “Civilization” and Removal
      (pp. 72-99)

      The American Revolution was a disaster for Southern Indians, but the full implication of the Revolution—independence for the English colonies—became clear only in the future. The guiding political assumptions of the revolutionary movement, that independence brought sovereignty for the new nation and that the political order was to be based on the principles of democratic republicanism, meant that the will of the people, expressed through their votes, would become public policy. With no externally imposed restraint, such as that of the Royal government, to balance popular interests, Southern Indians faced the threat of intensified demands for their land...

    • 6 Native Southerners in the West
      (pp. 100-124)

      When the Five Tribes arrived in what is today eastern Oklahoma, they found a land that bore some similarities to that they had left behind, but they also noted many differences. Forests covered much of the land, which the Canadian, Arkansas, and Red Rivers and their tributaries drained. Tall grass prairies interspersed the forests, and the rivers tended to be shallow braided streams flowing through wide, sandy beds. In the northeast, where the Cherokees settled, the southern edge of the Ozark Plateau known as the Cookson Hills provided topographical relief, just as the ridges of the Ouachita and Arbuckle Mountains...

    • 7 Those Who Remained
      (pp. 125-150)

      Removal in the 1830s did not eliminate Native people from the southeastern United States, and so not all Southern Indians live today in Oklahoma. Remnants from the five removed nations remained in the vicinity of their homelands, and four of these peoples have managed to reconstitute nations. Furthermore, the United States government never tried to relocate thousands of other Indian people who owned their land individually, occupied marginal areas, or resided on land set aside for them by the states. Many of these Indian communities have retained their tribal identities, and some enjoy state and even federal recognition. Retaining an...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
  7. Part II People, Places, and Events, A to Z
    (pp. 151-220)
    Karl Davis and Rose Stremlau

    Native Southerners relied on agriculture for a significant portion of their subsistence. As early as 3,000 years ago Southeast Native Americans cultivated local plants such as lambs quarters, marsh elder, and sunflowers, plants previously relied on in wild form. They soon added squash to their repertoire. By about A.D. 300, Southeastern Indians grew corn as a primary subsistence crop from which as much as 60 percent of their calories came. About A.D. 1000, beans appeared in the Southeast. Native people farmed the rich riverine bottomlands whose enormous productivity gave rise to the Mississippian tradition. After contact with Europeans, Native Americans...

  8. Part III Chronology
    (pp. 221-238)
  9. Part IV Resources
    (pp. 239-306)
  10. Index
    (pp. 307-326)