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Zamumo's Gifts

Indian-European Exchange in the Colonial Southeast

By Joseph M. Hall, Jr.

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Early American Studies

Copyright, Dedication

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List of Abbreviations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-11

Zamumo, the chief of Altamaha, had to think carefully in the early spring of 1540. Hundreds of unknown men were apparently a two-day journey to the southwest, and they were headed toward his town in the Oconee Valley of today’s central Georgia. Although the intruders did not seem violent, their strange metal weapons and the paucity of women...

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1. The Spirit of a Feather: The Politics of Mississippian Exchange

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pp. 12-32

In 1735, Chekilli, the principal leader of the Creek town of Coweta, told a story of his people’s origins to the British of Savannah, Georgia. The British secretary’s summary of the two-day account, which includes descriptions of migration, the acquisition of sacred knowledge, and encounters with friends and foes, also includes the above description of...

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2. Floods and Feathers: From the Mississippian to the Floridian

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pp. 33-54

Through the construction and maintenance of their mounds, plazas, and homes, Mississippian townspeople created monuments to their communities and their communities’ relationship to the cosmos. Through the exchange of sacred objects and knowledge, they built networks that supported these towns. After 1492, they met peoples from...

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3. Seeking the Atlantic: The Growth of Trade

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pp. 55-74

In the first years of the twentieth century, long after Altamahas weighed the potential advantages of gifts and long after the Spanish missions promoted by those gifts had crumbled, the people called Creeks lived in a land called Oklahoma. Although their homes in Georgia and Alabama and later Oklahoma had never been close to the ocean, the Atlantic still...

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4. Following the White Path: Migration and the Muskogees’ Quest for Security

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pp. 75-94

The sea change for which Spaniards had been bracing themselves in 1655 finally washed over the Southeast four years later. Rather than English freebooters coming from the south, as Governor Rebolledo and others had feared, Indian raiders from the north initiated the new violent era. The immigrants quickly distinguished themselves with their...

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5. Creating White Hearts: Anxious Alliances amid the Slave Trade

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pp. 95-116

Alindja said nothing to John Swanton about the wider circumstances behind the Cowetas’ and Tukabatchees’ alliance, but I cannot help wondering if his recollections refer to the turbulent years of the slave trade. The parallels, if not the connections, are intriguing. After 1674, as the Westos and their Carolinian trading partners destroyed and traded lives...

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6. The Yamasee War: Trade Reformed, a Region Reoriented

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pp. 117-144

When the naturalist William Bartram heard the above story in 1774, Creeks had many good reasons to emphasize the strength of their relationship with the British. A year before his tour through the Southeast, Creek leaders sold a large tract of land west of the Savannah River, and a number of disgruntled warriors were attacking colonists who built...

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7. Cries of ‘‘Euchee!’’: Imperial Trade in a Creek Southeast

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pp. 145-167

On November 9, 1724, John Sharp suffered for the empire he served. In the dark hour just before dawn, the English trader awoke to the sound of gunfire. The sound was familiar. Since 1716, Sharp’s neighbors in the Cherokee towns of Tugaloo and Noyouwee had been at war with the Creeks. This time, however, Creeks were taking aim at his home rather...

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Conclusion: Gifts and Trade, Towns and Empires

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pp. 168-172

A decade and a half after Red Shoes offered his words of praise for Creek multilateralism, the French philosopher Charles Secondat, baron de Montesquieu, wrote admiringly of Britain’s empire. In Montesquieu’s eyes, Britain achieved power without resorting to tyranny by planting overseas colonies ‘‘to extend its commerce more than its domination.’’...


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pp. 173-214

Glossary of Native Place Names

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pp. 215-220


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pp. 221-230


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pp. 231-232

E-ISBN-13: 9780812202144
E-ISBN-10: 0812202147
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812241792
Print-ISBN-10: 0812222237

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Early American Studies