- Dividing LinesKristalyn Marie Shefveland's Anglo-Native Virginia: Trade, Conversion, and Indian Slavery in the Old Dominion, 1646–1722
Kristalyn Marie Shefveland's Anglo-Native Virginia: Trade, Conversion, and Indian Slavery in the Old Dominion, 1646–1722 is a valuable book for the connections it builds between recent scholarship on the development of North America's plantation economy and recovery work on the Native South. Shefveland argues that interactions with Indigenous people, specifically those involving trade and including Indian slavery, shaped Virginian history. Over the course of seven chapters, Shefveland examines how the tributary system that emerged from the peace of 1646 restructured relationships between settlers, tributary Native groups, and non-tributary Natives, thereby influencing Virginia's economic, political, and social development. Drawing on a range of archival sources, Shefveland works to reconstruct Native relationships and perspectives that would remain otherwise buried in the accounts of English settlers, traders, and administrators.
Anglo-Native Virginia's sharp depiction of the complexities of Indian slavery and Native trade will appeal to historians interested in the economic development of colonial America as well as those interested in the early Native South. Shefveland maps the interplay between Virginia's legal and political establishment, Native interests and intertribal relations, and the traders negotiating the growing frontier economy. In doing so, Shefveland places Native concerns at the forefront, demonstrating that the Indigenous people of Virginia played a pivotal role in shaping the growth of the colony. The book will also appeal to literary historians of early America who will appreciate the background and context Shefveland provides for William Byrd II. Byrd, along with his father (also William Byrd), looms large in Shefveland's account of the rise and [End Page 206] decline of Indian slavery and the struggles between traders to control access to Native goods and networks in the Southeast.
A highlight of Shefveland's book is chapter three, "The Rise of Indian Slavery: William Byrd and Bacon's Rebellion." Here, Shefveland argues that scholarly focus on the ways that Bacon's Rebellion contributed to the growth of African slavery obscures the Rebellion's genesis in the Indian slave trade as part of a debate on the tributary system and its place in Virginian society. This chapter is notable for highlighting the role of women in the Rebellion, demonstrating the key role that Cockacoeske, Pamunkey weronsqua (political leader), played in Virginia governor William Berkeley's attempts to stay the hostilities. Sarah Harris Stegg, trading mentor to William Byrd I, also features prominently as an important player in the Rebellion and an example of how women participated in and shaped political, social, and economic networks in colonial Virginia. The chapter is important as well for its rereading of Bacon's Rebellion as an Indian war rooted in the complexities of the Indian slave trade and the political machinations of traders seeking influence and advantages in trade with Native peoples.
Chapter five, "The New Paradigm: Alexander Spotswood's Trade Policies," is also remarkable for its discussion of how Governor Spotswood sought to use the tributary system to convert Native Americans to Christianity against the backdrop of the rapidly declining Indian slave trade and struggles between Virginian traders, non-tributary Natives, and Carolina traders seeking to horn in on Virginia's Indian trade. Shefveland shows how Spotswood's plans to convert Native peoples came into conflict with traders' objectives as both forces sought to rework the Virginia colony's relationship with its Native inhabitants. The discussion of Spotswood's trade policies highlights one of the critical strengths of the book—Shefveland's knack for deftly sketching the interactions of multiple opposing economic, political, and cultural forces at once, an ability she uses to tease out the complexities of Anglo-Native connections in early Virginia.
While Shefveland makes a valiant effort to recover Indigenous voices and motivations, the book does not always present meaningful distinctions between the different Native groups involved in Indian slavery and trade with settlers beyond their characterization as tributary...