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Powhatan's Mantle

Indians in the Colonial Southeast, Revised and Expanded Edition

Gregory A. Waselkov

Publication Year: 2006

Considered a classic study of southeastern Indians, Powhatan’s Mantle demonstrates how ethnohistory, demography, archaeology, anthropology, and cartography can be brought together in fresh and meaningful ways to illuminate life in the early South. In a series of provocative original essays, a dozen leading scholars show how diverse Native Americans interacted with newcomers from Europe and Africa during the three hundred years of dramatic change beginning in the early sixteenth century.

For this new and expanded edition, the original contributors have revisited their subjects to offer further insights based on years of additional scholarship. The book includes four new essays, on calumet ceremonialism, social diversity in French Louisiana, the gendered nature of Cherokee agriculture, and the ideology of race among Creek Indians. The result is a volume filled with detailed information and challenging, up-to-date reappraisals reflecting the latest interdisciplinary research, ranging from Indian mounds and map symbolism to diplomatic practices and social structure, written to interest fellow scholars and informed general readers.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Table of Contents

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General Introduction to the Revised Edition

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pp. 1-16

Scholars of the Americas have long been engaged in speculation and research regarding the peoples who inhabited this hemisphere in so-called pre-Columbian times, before AD 1500, and during the subsequent colonial era, up to roughly 1800. Such researchers have faced numerous and basic questions. Which continents...

Part One: Geography and Population

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pp. 19-25

Up until at least the time when Alaska and Hawaii received statehood in the middle of the last century, general United States history texts—and even specialized demographic surveys—had a peculiar way of portraying American “expansion.” A chronological series of blank maps showed a few population dots along the...

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The Land and Water Communication Systems of the Southeastern Indians

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pp. 27-42

The vitality of Indian community life in the southeastern section of the present United States was enhanced by a maze of intervillage contacts. The frequency of interaction depended upon the distance between townsites. Descriptions of southern Indian society include accounts of intertown ball games, itinerant...

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Aboriginal Population Movements in the Early Historic Period Interior Southeast

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pp. 43-56

Spanish exploration was particularly hard on southeastern Indians. Natives were killed or conscripted for forced labor, stored food supplies were stolen, and new diseases were introduced by the Spanish explorers, particularly Hernando de Soto (1540) and his men. Later English settlers established an organized...

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The Changing Population of the Colonial South: An Overview by Race and Region, 1685–1790

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pp. 57-132

It is hard to fathom the historical and cultural patterns of a region, especially in times of great demographic change, without understanding the basic size and distribution of the whole population. This may be one reason the overall history of the South in the eighteenth century has remained elusive and incomplete...

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Interconnectedness and Diversity in “French Louisiana”

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pp. 133-162

In 1750, after more than half a century of colonization, the French governor of Louisiana declared in exasperation, “we can do nothing by ourselves.” While the French called Louisiana their colony, in reality, as Governor Vaudreuil knew, officials, explorers, priests, merchants, traders, and slaves became...

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American Indians in Colonial New Orleans

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pp. 163-186

So much of the scholarship on American Indians in colonial North America has concentrated on the populous nations inhabiting the interior that relatively little is understood about those smaller Indian groups situated in the midst of colonial settlements and towns. The praying towns of New England and the mission...

Part Two: Politics and Economics

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pp. 189-194

“Count the lying black marks of this one,”exclaimed Attakullakulla (Little Carpenter), paper in hand, as he detailed the hypocrisies and half-truths contained in a stack of letters the colonial governor of South Carolina had sent him. The Cherokee leader “kept them regularly piled in a bundle, according to the...

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Ruling “the Republic of Indians” in Seventeenth-Century Florida

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pp. 195-213

In the literature on colonial North America, scholars commonly contrast the English colonists, who courted the Indians through trade goods while holding them at a distance, with the French, who converted the Indians to Christianity and themselves to native life. Historians and anthropologists alike tend to discount...

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Early English Effects on Virginia Algonquian Exchange and Tribute in the Tidewater Potomac

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pp. 215-241

Not long after an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the English colonists at Jamestown, in May of 1607, the paramount chief, or mamanatowick, of the Virginia Algonquians and his chiefs, or werowances, began trading with the English. In a scene replayed countless times, Indian maize was exchanged for European goods...

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Cockacoeske, Queen of Pamunkey: Diplomat and Suzeraine

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pp. 243-266

Cockacoeske, queen of the Pamunkey Indians, donned the mantle of Powhatan’s chiefdom in 1656 and governed her people for some thirty years. British archival records that have recently come to light suggest that she worked within the context of the Virginia colonial government in an attempt to recapture the...

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“Our Bond of Peace: Patterns of Intercultural Exchange in the Carolina Piedmont, 1650–1750

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pp. 267-304

I must confess that it was at first somewhat disconcerting to be invited to revisit something I wrote more than two decades ago, published more than fifteen years past—and have scarcely looked at since. After all, when I first tried to work out the links in this “Bond of Peace,” I was fresh out of graduate school, with...

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Cherokee Women Farmers Hold Their Ground

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pp. 305-335

John Stuart had been working for three years in his new appointment as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District when he wrote a long memorandum in 1765 to his superiors at the Colonial Office in London. He struggled to try to bring home something of the reality of the Native American cultures...

Part Three: Symbols and Society

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pp. 339-344

In his foreword to the 1873 edition of Antiquities of the Southern Indians, author Charles Colcock Jones thanked the friends who had helped him assemble a “cabinet” of the “arts and manufactures” of the southern tribespeople. Jones used the contents of this cabinet—“relics” and assorted old papers—to construct...

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“The Chief Who Is Your Father”: Choctaw and French Views of the Diplomatic Relation

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pp. 345-370

When anthropologists set out to study a culture-contact situation, the first thing they look for is evidence of acculturation. When the object of historical study is the contact of Europeans with Native Americans, this is also the case, but all too seldom do scholars make any effort to treat both sides equally in the...

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The Calumet Ceremony in the Southeast as Observed Archaeologically

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pp. 371-419

Few material items in historic times have had such singular cultural significance as the calumet. The first Frenchmen in the northern Mississippi valley were amazed at its power, and they soon learned that carrying calumets with them enhanced safety and security. The calumet, or rather the confidence placed in it...

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Symbolism of Mississippian Mounds

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pp. 421-434

At least three centuries separate the prehistoric Mississippian cultures from the best ethnographic descriptions of their descendants, the historic southeastern Indians. The transformation that took place across this span seems so thoroughgoing that students of Mississippian culture often hesitate to use analogies...

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Indian Maps of the Colonial Southeast

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pp. 435-502

Drawing maps was within the competence of every adult southeastern Indian of the colonial period. Early colonizers, such as Captain John Smith, John Lawson, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, found native North Americans to be proficient cartographers whose geographical...

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The Graysons’ Dilemma: A Creek Family Confronts the Science of Race

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pp. 503-520

Whether exploring the foundations of patriarchy in seventeenth-century Virginia, the dynamics of the southern campaign in revolutionary America, or the making of white supremacy in the Jim Crow era, historians of the South position race at the center of their narratives. Historians of the native South, however...

The Contributors

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pp. 521-524


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pp. 525-550

E-ISBN-13: 9780803204546
E-ISBN-10: 080320454X

Page Count: 544
Illustrations: Illus., maps
Publication Year: 2006