- New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early Americaby Colin G. Calloway
Fifteen years have passed since Colin G. Calloway first published New Worlds for All. Now Calloway has published a second edition of his classic synthesis. The core of the book remains the same. The author explores the interactions between Native Americans and Europeans that shaped the region that is today the United States. Mutual contact, as much as conflict, led to new identities in early America. Europeans adopted elements of Native American culture, and Native Americans adopted elements of European culture. Due to the fact that Native Americans were “omnipresent participants” (xv) in the colonial era, European expansion in North America inevitably led to the restructuring of European ways of being. This occurred even as many colonists sought to resist or ignore these transformations. As in the first edition, Calloway anchors the second edition in the wave of ethnohistories written in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, the author incorporates a number of topics broached by the scholarship of the past two decades.
In brief additions to the text, Calloway utilizes research that has incorporated African perspectives and influences into the “new worlds for all” model. Natives and Africans found themselves in similarly marginalized positions in early America, but both had to navigate the fluid and often murky racial categories propagated by European colonizers. Slave owning was one way that Natives sought to racially define themselves. The Creeks and the Cherokees, for example, supported racially based slaveholding in a manner similar to Europeans and sought to distance themselves from the racial designations of blackness. Natives transformed and enlarged their slave-owning practices due to the demand of European colonists and the Native desire for firearms. Within a society increasingly conceptualized as biracial, Natives had reason to abandon traditional notions of kinship for the sake of distinguishing themselves from Africans despite a history of intermarriage and their similar positions vis-à-vis European colonialism.
Although the book touches on these new developments, much of the content has remained the same. The structure of the book has not changed. Calloway utilizes a thematic approach. He examines conceptions [End Page 434]of land, health, commodities, religion, warfare, diplomacy, demographics, frontiers, and communal identities. Native Americans rode horses, swore in English, attended Christian services, swung metal axes, and played cards. Europeans traveled in bark canoes, applied Native medical remedies, wore Native dress, and smoked the calumet. Other influences were less benign. Disease ravaged Native American communities and prompted new migratory patterns and refugee tribes like the Seminoles.
Although the book’s focus is on instances of uneasy cooperation among and influence between various groups, Calloway does not underplay the role of conflict in shaping early America. Violent confrontations occurred alongside and within the context of exchange. Many rejected cooperation. Native Americans and Europeans often feared that they were becoming more like the other. Native prophets periodically sought to revive traditional practices and to expel European influence. Europeans worried that they would become “Indianized” if they spent too much time with Native Americans. In a compelling conclusion, Calloway briefly touches on the American mandate to conceal the interactive—if often brutal—world of early America. This work seeks to undo the effects of this mandate and to nuance a simple conquest narrative.
The second edition of New Worlds for Allproductively invites the interested reader to reflect on the historiographical trends of the past two decades. Research on colonial America increasingly has sought to define geographies that are not limited by national boundaries. The author includes Native, French, Spanish, and English influences in early America, but the boundaries of the contemporary United States provide the boundaries of the book’s geographical scope. What is gained and lost in this regionalization? Could a similar survey incorporate the Caribbean or Central Mexico as centers of exchange that had wide-ranging influences on early America? As the author asks, what could the framework of the Atlantic World provide? Relatedly...