ethnohistory 58, 1 (2011)


killer new issue of ethnohistory; check it out here

Coll Thrush: ‘Vancouver the Cannibal: Cuisine, Encounter, and the Dilemma of Difference on the Northwest Coast, 1774–1808’:

Food is fundamental. As Felipe Fernández-Armesto has written, food “has a good claim to be considered the world’s most important subject. It is what matters most to most people for most of the time” (Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food [New York, 2002], ix). We are what we eat, both materially and discursively, both in terms of the ecological networks that provide us with sustenance and the identities that define who we are as social, cultural, and historical beings. This article examines early contacts on the Northwest coast, using food as a lens on cultural and environmental encounter. Drawing on oral tradition and on accounts of explorers such as George Vancouver, this article treats the newcomers ethnographically, setting their behavior within the context of European cultural practices, and treats aboriginal societies historically, showing them as active participants in processes of change. Across tables and hearths, aboriginal people and the newcomers created a space in which static notions of race played a surprisingly small role. Instead, differences were seen as having to do with subtler concepts like generosity, cultivation, and taste. As with the belief, shared by Europeans and aboriginal people alike, that the strangers they encountered might be cannibals, these early encounters created what Gananath Obeyesekere calls a “dialogical misunderstanding” upon which would be laid the shaky foundations of empire (Cannibal Talk: The Man-Eating Myth and Human Sacrifice in the South Seas [Berkeley, CA, 2005]). By using food to ground the face-to-face encounters between native and newcomer and by placing indigenous understandings of encounter at the center of the story, this article seeks to describe some of the specific mechanisms, material and rhetorical, by which colonialism dispossessed.

Chris Andersen: ‘Moya `Tipimsook (“The People Who Aren’t Their Own Bosses”): Racialization and the Misrecognition of “Métis” in Upper Great Lakes Ethnohistory’

Scholars have long noted the central place of racialization in the last five centuries of colonial rule and likewise the crossracial encounters and eventual colonial intimacies regulated in its shadow. In the conceptual terrain posted by these demarcations, this article explores how, in the absence of extensive documentation on historical self-ascriptions, contemporary ethnohistorians examining upper Great Lakes fur trade settlements have attempted to come to terms with the historical social ontologies that long preceded official attempts to regulate them. Specifically, we examine the racialized logics governing the retrofitting of these settlements as “métis” and “Métis” and, secondarily, the recent creep of juridical logics into ethnohistorical conversations. Rather than challenging ethnohistorical conclusions that these settlements were/are Métis, this article challenges how they are ethnohistorically imagined as such, and in doing so it appeals for a Métis “counter-ethnohistory” alternatively anchored in an analytics of peoplehood.

Timothy H. Ives: ‘Reconstructing the Wangunk Reservation Land System: A Case Study of Native and Colonial Likeness in Central Connecticut’

This article brings land systems into dialogue to explain the successful coexistence of the Wangunks, a native community of central Connecticut, and their English neighbors during the colonial period. Using the interpretive research focus of likeness, structurally similar aspects of Wangunk and English land tenure are compared, including diversified landholdings extending from a village center, cooperation of individual and common rights, and a gendered proprietorship. This discourse suggests that the character of Wangunk ethnicity resonates from the values that motivated their land system more than from its structures. Furthermore, distinctive elements of the Wangunk Reservation land system, as hereby reconstructed, contribute to an emerging sense that articulations of native and English land systems are not only dynamic but locally distinct across New England.

Tom Arne: ‘Strange and Disturbing News: Rumor and Diplomacy in the Colonial Hudson Valley’

Frightening rumors of conspiracies and plots were a prominent feature of relations between Native Americans and Europeans in the colonial Hudson Valley in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. While these alarming reports usually had no foundation in reality, they nevertheless shed light on several aspects of Indian political and diplomatic relationships in this area. This article holds that the spread of rumors and tales from one people to the next represents only the most visible of a great variety of interactions among the Indian groups of the valley, and therefore stands as indirect evidence of a vast native social and political world largely hidden from modern eyes. By plotting the career and distribution of particular rumors, one may get a sense of channels of communication and networks of exchange among the native peoples in the Hudson Valley as well as of the ties these Indians had to native groups in both adjacent regions and more distant locales. In particular, rumors of an Indian conspiracy against the Europeans in 1712 provide evidence of how the outbreak of the Tuscarora War in North Carolina reverberated in the Hudson Valley, which indicates that even small groups of Indians living close to centers of European settlement might be participants in extensive Indian exchange networks and thus be part of a larger Native American world.

Kevin Mulroy: ‘Mixed Race in the Seminole Nation’

This is a story of two hidden identities. It focuses on the family history of Phil Wilkes Fixico (aka Philip Vincent Wilkes and Pompey Bruner Fixico), a contemporary Seminole maroon descendant of mixed race who lives in Los Angeles. Phil is one-eighth Seminole Indian, one-quarter Seminole freedman, one-eighth Creek freedman, one-quarter Cherokee-freedman, and one-quarter African-American-white. His family history records that his paternal grandfather was the offspring of a Seminole Indian woman and a Seminole freedman, but that this “intermarriage” was kept secret from the Dawes Commission and the boy was enrolled as a “fullblood” Indian. This one union and the subsequent history of the family tell us a great deal about relations between Seminoles and freedmen in the Indian Territory and Oklahoma and about status and identity issues among individuals of mixed race within American society. With tragic irony, Phil’s parents also hid the identity of his biological father, echoing the story of his grandfather. Sensing family secrets and lies, young Phil experienced an identity crisis. Eventually discovering his father’s identity and his family history, Phil turned his life around. He has embraced his mixed-race heritage, connected with the Seminole maroon communities in Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico, and become a creative and energetic tribal historian.

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