By Nancy Shoemaker
The connection among American Indians and Europeans on America's frontiers is usually characterised as a sequence of cultural conflicts and misunderstandings in accordance with an unlimited gulf of distinction. Nancy Shoemaker turns this inspiration on its head, exhibiting that Indians and Europeans shared universal ideals approximately their so much basic realities--land as nationwide territory, govt, record-keeping, foreign alliances, gender, and the human physique. prior to they even met, Europeans and Indians shared perceptions of a panorama marked via mountains and rivers, a actual international during which the sunlight rose and set on a daily basis, and a human physique with its personal unique form. in addition they shared of their skill to make feel of all of it and to invent new, summary principles according to the tangible and visual reviews of lifestyle. targeting jap North the US up throughout the finish of the Seven Years struggle, Shoemaker heavily reads incidents, letters, and recorded speeches from the Iroquois and Creek confederacies, the Cherokee kingdom, and different local teams along British and French assets, paying specific realization to the language utilized in cross-cultural dialog. mockingly, the extra American Indians and Europeans got here to understand one another, the extra they got here to work out one another as diverse. by means of the top of the 18th century, Shoemaker argues, they deserted an preliminary willingness to acknowledge in one another a typical humanity and as a substitute constructed new rules rooted within the conviction that, through customized and even perhaps by way of nature, local american citizens and Europeans have been peoples essentially at odds. In her research, Shoemaker finds the 18th century roots of tolerating stereotypes Indians built approximately Europeans, in addition to stereotypes Europeans created approximately Indians. This robust and eloquent interpretation questions long-standing assumptions, revealing the unusual likenesses one of the population of colonial North the USA.
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Extra info for A Strange Likeness: Becoming Red and White in Eighteenth-Century North America
If we were to read European records at face value, a horde of emperors, kings, queens, princes, princesses, lords, nobles, governors, captains, and lieutenants ran the governments of Indian nations. Indians, too, tried to squeeze European offi cials, both across the Atlantic and in the colonies, into familiar categories. ”18 Any term denoting a position of political authority may inherently be too culturally specific to fully translate into another language. However, every one on the council grounds glossed their differences to recognize the deeper truth: all peoples around the world have a political structure.
So, were marked trees, painted posts, and stone heaps Indian claims to ter ritory? Implicitly they were, for they carried intensely felt meanings and thereby 28 A STRANGE LIKENESS connected people emotionally to that place. Warriors and hunters who left behind pictographic records of their deeds claimed the land by writing their personal histories on it. Their badges of identity, drawings denoting their clan or membership in the Iroquois Confederacy, linked their personal histories to that of a larger community.
They also came upon boundary markers and memorials. If accompanied by an Indian guide, they heard stories along the way about past battles, accidental drownings, the origins of lakes and mountains, and other historic events from the ancient past or from more recent times. Indians used both “natural marks” and “artificial marks” to make their environments home. “Natural marks” were places with unusual or distinguishing features. Among eastern Indians, “natural marks” sometimes served mundane functions by iden tifying meeting places or turning points for travelers and at other times bore a larger significance.