This essay argues that recognizing the continued importance of Mississippian societies to Native American peoples in the colonial period offers a more accurate portrait of encounter and exchange than previous interpretive models that overemphasize and misuse the "middle ground" concept put forward by Richard White in the 1980s. By ridding the Mississippian past of its outdated categorization as "prehis-tory," early American studies may engage in an interdisciplinary, media- based, and intersubjective methodology that will aid in reimagining the traditions of Indigenous peoples in the Americas as a set of ongoing procedures for reconstructing their ever- changing identities as nations within a nation by persistently reassembling the storied practices that have served their communities since long before the first Europeans reached their shores.


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