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Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

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Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America Cover

ISBN13: 9780674011175
ISBN10: 0674011171
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Publisher Comments:

In the beginning, North America was Indian country. But only in the beginning. After the opening act of the great national drama, Native Americans yielded to the westward rush of European settlers.

Or so the story usually goes. Yet, for three centuries after Columbus, Native people controlled most of eastern North America and profoundly shaped its destiny. In Facing East from Indian Country, Daniel K. Richter keeps Native people center-stage throughout the story of the origins of the United States.

Viewed from Indian country, the sixteenth century was an era in which Native people discovered Europeans and struggled to make sense of a new world. Well into the seventeenth century, the most profound challenges to Indian life came less from the arrival of a relative handful of European colonists than from the biological, economic, and environmental forces the newcomers unleashed. Drawing upon their own traditions, Indian communities reinvented themselves and carved out a place in a world dominated by transatlantic European empires. In 1776, however, when some of Britain's colonists rebelled against that imperial world, they overturned the system that had made Euro-American and Native coexistence possible. Eastern North America only ceased to be an Indian country because the revolutionaries denied the continent's first peoples a place in the nation they were creating.

In rediscovering early America as Indian country, Richter employs the historian's craft to challenge cherished assumptions about times and places we thought we knew well, revealing Native American experiences at the core of the nation's birth and identity.

Synopsis:

In the beginning, North America was Indian country. But only in the beginning. After the opening act of the great national drama, Native Americans yielded to the westward rush of European settlers. Or so the story usually goes. Yet, for three centuries after Columbus, Native people controlled most of eastern North America and profoundly shaped its destiny. In Facing East from Indian Country, Daniel K. Richter keeps Native people center-stage throughout the story of the origins of the United States.

Synopsis:

Finalist, 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History

Synopsis:

2000-2001 Louis Gottschalk Prize, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

About the Author

Daniel K. Richter is Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History and the Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents

Prologue: Early America as Indian Country

1. Imagining a Distant New World

2. Confronting a Material New World

3. Living with Europeans

4. Native Voices in a Colonial World

5. Native Peoples in an Imperial World

6. Separate Creations

Epilogue: Eulogy from Indian Country

A Technical Note

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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erin.wood, July 18, 2007 (view all comments by erin.wood)
Sixteenth-eighteenth century North American history is told as Euro-American history or as the history of the Europeans coming to the ?New World,? planting their seeds and building a nation. However, this story is only one-sided and is told by looking west. The story forgets that this land once belonged to a thriving self-sufficient world of many Indian nations. Therefore, a ?visual reorientation? of this history is needed. By switching the perspective and facing east the story is then told as North America being the ?Old World? and Europe as being the ?New World,? which is filled with strange new people, ideas and material objects. In his book, Facing East from Indian Country, Daniel Richter allows readers to gain this perspective of switching old and new world and see how the Indians viewed the newcomers. The book traces the basic frameworks, readers have come to known such as contact, colonization and independence, but instead it is contact with the Europeans, then coexistence and finally a lost battle for independence.

Richter begins the story in the contact period with imaginative stories to allow the reader to visualize the Indian ?Imagining a Distant New World.? Richter argues in this first chapter early contact in the sixteenth century, especially with Hernando de Soto and Jacques Cartier, exacerbated problems like ?population movements, conquests and political cultural change? (39) that were already set in motion before the arrival of the Europeans. Their arrival led to more conflict among the natives as they tried to endure the diseases, and fight for alliances and the new material goods.

Second, he discusses how the Indians confronted ?the trio of economic, ecological and epidemiological forces, [which] remade Indian country.? (41) As for economic forces, he argues, the Indians accepted trade with the newcomers and while they did not use the material goods they received from the Europeans as they were intended to be used, these new items brought power and status as well as an easier life style for the Indians. Ecological forces included the destruction of beaver population and its ecological consequences, a new meaning of land ownership, single-crop plow agriculture, such as only corn in one field instead of the Mesoamerican Triad in a single field, destruction of hunting and fishing grounds, and domesticated animals and the destruction of Indian crops. Richter argues, therefore, that with the contrasting ways of using land, they could not share the same ecosystem. As for epidemiological forces, disease and starvation had the most profound effects on Indian country, but the Indians learned they either had to melt into one pot or become laborers for the English. Richter argues that confronting the trio forced the Indians to try and rebuild their Indian country more significant (68).

In the middle part of the book, Richter suggests the only way the Indians were going to survive was to cooperate and coexist on the same land as the Europeans. He presents the idea of them living parallel paths. He retells the stories of Pocahontas, King Philip and Kateri Tekakwitha as evidence of cooperation and coexistence. Furthermore, he uses two primary sources of Indian words to prove how they had a ?cultural coexistence? but it was based on Indian terms. The first is a confessional given by a Natick man named Monequassun, in the 1650s. His confessional was recorded and then read by Europeans on both sides of the ocean. The second is a speech given by a Mohawk orator to the colonial officials in New York in the aftermath of King Philip?s War. Richter suggests, both of these sources, if read carefully, are proof of the cooperation and coexistence the Indians offered.

In the final chapters of the book, Richter argues the parallel coexistence, which he compares to two poles of a ladder with shaky rungs between, eventually collapsed in 1763. It was in this year, the French and Indian war had come to an end and Treaty of Paris (1763) ended all hopes for a peaceful coexistence. At this time, with France and Spain gone from the imperial ring surrounding the natives, both the English and the Indians began their wars for Independence. However, it was a losing war for the natives and they were pushed farther from their homelands. Furthermore, Richter argues these wars for independence brought greater racial tension and nativism, which continued to build and erupted with the removal of the Indians in the 1830s to the western frontiers of the United States.

Readers must have an open-mind and creative imagination when reading Richter?s book. Richter?s prose and own imagination gives the reader the sense that sources of information do exist, when in fact they do not. However, the ?visual reorientation? will allow readers to gain a new perspective of early American history. Facing east, now the story is one of cooperation and coexistence as well as the struggle for independence and a new sense of racial identity for the Indians. It is the new history of America and her people.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780674011175
Author:
Richter, Daniel K.
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Author:
Dr. Daniel K. Richter
Location:
Cambridge, Mass.
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Indians of north america
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
United States - Colonial Period
Subject:
Indians, treatment of
Subject:
United States / Colonial Period(1600-1775)
Subject:
United States Politics and government.
Subject:
Indians of North America -- History.
Subject:
US History-Colonial America
Subject:
Social Science-Ethnic Studies - Native American Studies
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
2002-04
Publication Date:
April 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
15 halftones, 4 maps
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 13 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Native American » General Native American Studies
History and Social Science » US History » Colonial America
History and Social Science » US History » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America New Trade Paper
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Product details 336 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674011175 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In the beginning, North America was Indian country. But only in the beginning. After the opening act of the great national drama, Native Americans yielded to the westward rush of European settlers. Or so the story usually goes. Yet, for three centuries after Columbus, Native people controlled most of eastern North America and profoundly shaped its destiny. In Facing East from Indian Country, Daniel K. Richter keeps Native people center-stage throughout the story of the origins of the United States.
"Synopsis" by , Finalist, 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History
"Synopsis" by , 2000-2001 Louis Gottschalk Prize, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
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