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  • Editors' IntroductionA Line in the Sand
  • James Taylor Carson, Robbie Ethridge, and Greg O'Brien

We are worried. We have decided to take our stand, to draw a line in the sand. We are worried about our poverty of memory and the consequences of remembering one part of our past to the exclusion of all the rest.

Central themes in Southern history and Southern studies abound. To U. B. Phillips it was slavery. To Frank Owsley it was sectionalism and agrarianism. Grady McWhinney drew our attention to the Celtic survivals while Walter Johnson nominated the interstate slave trade. Other themes predominate after the Civil War—continuity versus change, the Prussian Road, progressivism, and civil rights, to cite a few examples. Each of these themes and most of the others, in practice, captures only the barest sliver of the South's deep history and experience, for such themes tend to find their origins in the early nineteenth century. Taken together, the metanarrative that arises from these themes only leaves us with an Old South that lasted but a handful of decades after the War of 1812, a New South that is still chugging along, and a deep impression that Southern social relations were singly derived from and are still predicated on the binary racial construct of black and white.

Yet, human beings have inhabited what we know as the South for as much as fifteen thousand years. Furthermore, the history of these fifteen thousand years has been marked by the rise and fall of a number of different societies as well as the immigration and emigration into and out of the region of various peoples of Native American, European, African, Near Eastern, Asian, and Latino descent, among others.

In the past decade or so, we have witnessed and ourselves contributed to a fluorescence of scholarly work about the Native peoples of the American South. We have also been seriously disappointed since most of [End Page ix] these works remain outside of, or only marginal to, the conventional cannons of mainstream Southern history, Southern literature, Southern art, and Southern studies.1 So, in July 2005 we spent a few days with a chalkboard at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture in the Barnard Observatory on the campus of the University of Mississippi to plot an evangelical enterprise. The message was simple—that in order to write a comprehensive history of the American South, one must consider the Indian experience, that Indians mattered in the course of Southern history, and that scholars exclude them from the region's major narratives at their peril.

The central question of this journal is, what was and is the full social history of the South? We understand that to answer this question requires us to open the field of inquiry beyond the black/white dichotomy and beyond the Civil War and modern eras, and we think one way to do this is to include the Indian experiences in our stories of the South. In fact, we understand every general topic of importance to scholars of the South—race, slavery, gender, culture, economics, politics, international relations, even the Civil War—to have an Indian component, with Indians sometimes being the determinative force in shaping Southern trends at particular times. We thus inaugurate this new academic journal in order to enable and to facilitate the incorporation of scholarly work being done on the Southern Indians into the broader scholarship on the American South and the United States in general.

We propose that including Indians into the story of the American South will help move us toward our larger goal of constructing a more comprehensive history of the South and the Southern experience because doing so challenges several foundational precepts about the South and expands our understandings of what the South is and was. For one, considering the Native experience in the South necessarily questions and complicates the binary black/white racial construct because Indians were neither "black" nor "white." And although Native South is primarily dedicated to a full accounting of the Indian presence in the South, we understand that to do so requires examining the relationships and connections between Southern Indians and other people as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2152-4025
Print ISSN
1943-2569
Pages
pp. ix-xvi
Launched on MUSE
2010-01-27
Open Access
No
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