In 1540, Zamumo, the chief of the Altamahas in central Georgia,
exchanged gifts with the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto.
With these gifts began two centuries of exchanges that bound
American Indians and the Spanish, English, and French who colonized
the region. Whether they gave gifts for diplomacy or traded
commodities for profit, Natives and newcomers alike used the
exchange of goods such as cloth, deerskin, muskets, and sometimes
people as a way of securing their influence. Gifts and trade
enabled early colonies to survive and later colonies to prosper.
Conversely, they upset the social balance of chiefdoms like
Zamumo's and promoted the rise of new and powerful Indian
confederacies like the Creeks and the Choctaws.
Drawing on archaeological studies, colonial documents from three
empires, and Native oral histories, Joseph M. Hall, Jr., offers
fresh insights into broad segments of southeastern colonial
history, including the success of Florida's Franciscan missionaries
before 1640 and the impact of the Indian slave trade on French
Louisiana after 1699. He also shows how gifts and trade shaped the
Yamasee War, which pitted a number of southeastern tribes against
English South Carolina in 1715-17. The exchanges at the heart of
Zamumo's Gifts highlight how the history of Europeans and
Native Americans cannot be understood without each other.
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