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346 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 indulged themselves in sloppy argument that they'd never tolerate in a candidate for tenure. (SHIRLEY NEUMAN) Bruce G. Trigger and Wilcomb Washburn, editors. The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of North America Cambridge University Press 1996. Vol1, parts 1-2,564 and 500. us$49ยท95, each part This history is part of a three-volume history of the peoples of the Americas , volume 2 dealing with Mesoamerica and volume 3 with South America. It is a two-book set breaking approximately at 188o. This volume consists of fifteen essays dealing with topics that set the stage for understanding Native life prior to invasion and then follow chronologically as white settlement changes the life and status of the Native peoples, concluding with contemporary times. While no Native historians are included in the list of authors, the book is surprisingly sympathetic and rmderstanding of the Native point of view. Surprising because the late Wilcomb Washburn was not particularly sympathetic to many of the changes that have taken place in the past three decades. The essays are superb and demonstrate a profound mastery of the subject areas, including a good balance between interpretation and factual data. The authors skilfully weave together Canadian and American policies regarding land, education, treaties, Native responses to intrusions, and Native-white attitudes with sophistication, so that the reader truly gets a complete picture of events in North America as they unfold. The result is a clarification of history that is quite remarkable and proves exceedingly useful for grasping the larger issues that have affected Native peoples. At the end of each chapter is a bibliographic essay providing further readings, evaluating sources and providing a context in which the reader can pursue various subjects more completely. The first two essays, 'Native Views of History' and 'Native Peoples in Euro-American Historiography,' struggle a bit to escape an American etlmocentric perspective, but since the overwhelming percentage of data dealing with Native peoples is now in written form, such a conflict is inevitable. The chapters are, nevertheless, highly informative and well written, surpassing any other discussion of these subjects currently in print. Much more space should have been given to Spanish settlements in the Southwest prior to the arrival of the Americans in the essay on the Southwest, since it was the acconunodations made by Native peoples that made rapid American settlement possible in this desolate area. Indeed, we have not begun to discover the real extent of Spanish influence in the Plains and Mississippi region_. since histories have traditionally been written from an English.European point of view. HUMANITIES 347 Unlike many other books covering contemporary times, this history takes a balanced approach to activism, refusing to glorify many of the events but giving an honest appraisal of the movements of modern times. While the treatment of the period r88o-196o is fine, a good deal more should have been made of the destruction of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma, since that situation has created a federal law that has been bifurcated to account for the special status given to tribes which have no permanent reservation boundaries in many instances. Additional discussion of non-recognized eastern Native commrmities would also have been helpful to readers who will read about individual efforts to get recognition by some of these long-standing communities. This history pushes forward issues that will become critical in the decades ahead. David Damas's article, 'The Arctic from Norse Contact to Modem Times,' is a good example, admitting that there were probably preColumbian contacts and opening up a new topic for discussion. This essay sets the stage for future scholars to begin to link ancient slag iron furnaces in Ohio, Virginia, and other areas to Norse expeditions and provides a starting place to incorporate heretical scholarship which sees Norse intrusions on a much larger geographic scale. Historians here are offering a more realistic appraisal of pre-Columbian history and are now in a position to force anthropologists to consider the historical dimension of Native life in North America, one which they would otherwise be reluctant to consider. In summary, thenJ this is a superb collection of essays. It...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 346-347
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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