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Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

Écrit par Daniel K Richter

Raconté par Bob Souer


Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

Écrit par Daniel K Richter

Raconté par Bob Souer

évaluations:
4.5/5 (7 évaluations)
Longueur:
9 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Dec 4, 2018
ISBN:
9781977332882
Format:
Livre audio

Description

In the beginning, North America was Indian country. But only in the beginning. After the opening act of the great national drama, Native Americans yielded to the westward rush of European settlers. Or so the story usually goes.

Yet, for three centuries after Columbus, Native people controlled most of eastern North America and profoundly shaped its destiny. In Facing East from Indian Country, Daniel K. Richter keeps Native people center-stage throughout the story of the origins of the United States.

Viewed from Indian country, the 16th century was an era in which Native people discovered Europeans and struggled to make sense of a new world. Well into the 17th century, the most profound challenges to Indian life came less from the arrival of a relative handful of European colonists than from the biological, economic, and environmental forces the newcomers unleashed. Drawing upon their own traditions, Indian communities reinvented themselves and carved out a place in a world dominated by transatlantic European empires.

In 1776, however, when some of Britain's colonists rebelled against that imperial world, they overturned the system that had made Euro-American and Native coexistence possible. Eastern North America only ceased to be an Indian country because the revolutionaries denied the continent's first peoples a place in the nation they were creating.

In rediscovering early America as Indian country, Richter employs the historian's craft to challenge cherished assumptions about times and places we thought we knew well, revealing Native American experiences at the core of the nation's birth and identity.

Éditeur:
Sortie:
Dec 4, 2018
ISBN:
9781977332882
Format:
Livre audio

À propos de l'auteur

Daniel K. Richter is the Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America, and is coeditor of Beyond the Covenant Chain: The Iroquois and Their Neighbors in Indian North America, 1600-1800.


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  • (5/5)
    Richter begins his investigation of native history quite literally facing east. From the first page of his book, Facing East from Indian Country, Richter demands of his reader a paradigm shift. He presents a unique perspective of Native American history, by presenting the Indian’s point of view. He transplants the reader from the deck of the Mayflower to the shores of the “New World.” Through this shift in paradigm, Richter has contributed a distinctive approach to historiography. Richter functions as a storyteller, retelling old stories and telling some new – all form the standpoint of the Native American. In doing so, Richter’s approach to history writing, as well as story telling, places the emphasis and importance on the individual’s standpoint, thus recontextualizing historical events. Richter begins his book with the use of his imagination, creating several differing accounts of Native American’s first encounters with Europeans. He tells of Indians finding strange wooden structures, fabrics of bright colors with depictions of beasts and hard shiny objects along the beaches of the eastern coast of North America. These fictional accounts created by Richter are implicit to creating a tone with which the rest of his book should be read. These stories aid the reader in developing the perspective that is needed (a constructed Native American perspective) to truly appreciate the unique approach of Richter’s project.While Richter is sure to reassess the imperial and colonial periods of eastern North America from the standpoint of the Native Americans, he also incorporates the natural environment into his analysis. Richter argues that several factors during the time of first contact changed the natural environment of North America. Firstly, Richter explains that Europeans attempted to bring Europe to the “New World.” The initiated similar if not identical construction, agriculture and customary practices. The Europeans began clear cutting large portions of the hardwood forest in order to secure farmland where they labored over fields with considerably low yield in comparison to their native counterparts. Richter writes that the, “changes forced upon [Native Americans] were just as profound as if they had resettled on unknown shores” (41). For Richter, Native Americans were also living in a “New World.” What the Europeans lacked in their ability to cultivate they more than made up for as hosts for microbes that devastated Native American populations over the next several centuries. Richter explains that the Indians, having no understanding of microbes and germs, were likely to have a more spiritual or religious reaction to the diseases that were nearly wiping out entire populations. Their environment rapidly changing and their populations ravaged by sickness, Richter explains how Native American identity began to significantly change. Those that did survive the diseases brought by the Europeans, having lost their friends and family, were forced to move out alone in pursuit of other ways of life with neighboring tribes or with other stray individuals. Richter maintains that it was the Native American’s adaptability that enabled them to survive in what had become a different world, in juxtaposition to the cultural arrogance of the Europeans who believed that their culture could easily be reconstructed in North America. Yet Richter is also quick to point out that Europeans did not only bring devastation and “Old World” mentalities to North America. Metal tools, guns, foods and spices and textiles accompanied the whites.By investigating the interactions between the Indians and the Europeans Richter assesses the newly developing identity of the native people. He argues that the Indians initiated trade and commerce with a resolve equal to the Europeans. Many of the whites’ materials were superior to the Indian’s; their metal axes were stronger than the flint equivalent. The materials and tools used by the Europeans were coveted by the Native Americans and became major factors in the development of larger economic systems of trade and currency between the tribes. Specifically metal tools used to drill holes in shells significantly increased efficiency in the production of wampum. Through their developing relationship and trade with the Europeans, Richter argues, “to continue to live as “Indians,” Native people needed to trade with Europeans” (51). Throughout the rest of his book Richter is continually illustrating the major consumption of European goods by Native Americans, so much so that Richter describes specialized production occurring in Europe in order to curtail to Indian demand.As more and more Europeans migrated across the Atlantic, and more and more Native Americans lived in a world never having known life before these alien people, frictions began to develop. Richter focuses on the effects religion (Christianity) had on Native Americans by investigating English, French and Dutch missionaries and the initial reaction of the natives to their attempts to convert them. Richter again exemplifies the adaptability of the Native Americans even under pressure in some cases of radical religious indoctrination. Some native people adopted Christian ideologies, others appropriated some of the traditions into their constantly transforming world, and still others waged war.Richter argues that aggression was not only between the natives and Europeans, nor was it limited to disputes between the English, French or Dutch, but many times between feuding tribes of Native Americans. Many alliances were created among both tribes and Europeans, Richter notes, “These were not just European but also indigenously North American wars that grew from longstanding, home-grown conflicts. Inter-Indian and Indian-colonial rivalries made them every bit as much a matter of Native Americans involving European allies in their battles as they were of Europeans involving Native Americans in theirs” (155). Yet these alliances would only be temporary, soon all hope for peaceful coexistence between the Native American population and colonial Europeans and later Americans would be lost forever.By turning the reader around from their traditional western-facing gaze, Richter presents a new and refreshing perspective of the Native American experience. One that puts the reader on the beaches of the Atlantic coast next to Massachusett, Wampanoag, Narragansett and Lanape peoples as they watch these strangers enter their world. Richter illustrates the adaptability of the Native American people, as well as discussing their developing dependence on the European colonists in a very fluid and readable manner. While Richter’s work is narrower in scope, his reanalysis of historical events searches for new meaning and deeper understanding functioning as a more concentrated complement to Taylor’s American Colonies. He uses primary sources to analyze the effect western religion had on the natives and the social and political strife that was connected with it, retelling the tragedies that followed form his unique perspective. Richter’s book is a prime example of the new historiographical approaches that are being applied to Native American studies. While Richter is intent on writing from the perspective of the indigenous people of eastern North America, he is successful in describing what both the native and European experiences might have been. Richter provides convincing arguments for the development of a North American identity. By giving solid and perceivable examples of both native and European actions and responses, Richter enables the reader to construct an understanding of the development of a unique and dynamic people.
  • (4/5)
    Daniel K. Richter’s Facing East from Indian Country explores early American history from the perspective of Native Americans, challenging the traditional Euro-centric narrative. Richter focuses on colonial North America, the Revolutionary period, and concludes with the Jacksonian era.Richter seeks to reframe the narrative of European colonization into one in which Native Americans played an active role as discoverers, who were encountering a new world at the same time as the Europeans. He wants to remove the sense of inevitability from the history of European colonization in North America.In his prologue Richter writes, “The emergence of an aggressively expansionist Euro-American United States from what used to be the Indian country of eastern North America is a problem to be explained, not an inevitable process to be traced from the first planting of English seeds on Atlantic shores to their flowering in the trans-Mississippi west. This book argues that the nature of that problem can fruitfully be explored through something like the visual reorientation I experienced when I faced east from my St. Louis hotel room.” Using this framework, Richter examines the experiences of Native Americans from Pocahontas and Metacom, to the actions of tribes during the Seven Years’ War, to the way that American Indians interpreted the American Revolution, casting Native Americans as active agents engaged in a transatlantic system that was, to them at least, an extension of the systems they had originated between tribes on the North American continent. Throughout his writing, Richter begins with the Euro-American narrative before “facing east” to explore the same events from the Native American perspective.Richter bases as much of his argument as possible on primary sources, but parts of chapter 2, “Confronting a Material New World,” touch upon topics William Cronon addressed in his 1983 monograph, Changes in the Land. Additionally, the section in chapter 4, “Native Voices in a Colonial World,” that deals with Native interpretations of Christianity, recalls Neal Salisbury’s “Red Puritans: The ‘Praying Indians’ of Massachusetts Bay and John Eliot” (The William and Mary Quarterly 31, no. 1 (1974), pgs. 27-54). Both of these works previously focused on the Native Americans’ views of Europeans and laid the groundwork for some of Richter’s argument.For Native American’s perspectives, Richter relies upon sources that first passed through European transcribers or translators, which he acknowledges led to these sources also containing the Europeans’ biases. He balances this with evidence from the archaeological record and European accounts of encounters between colonists and Native Americans, which he interprets from a Native perspective so as to “face east.”
  • (4/5)
    Excellent retelling of American history (from first contact to the Jackson administration) from the perspective of the original inhabitants.