daniel ingram on indians and british forts in north america


Daniel Ingram, Indians and British Outposts in Eighteenth-Century America (Florida University Press, 2012).

This fascinating look at the cultural and military importance of British forts in the colonial era explains how these forts served as communities in Indian country more than as bastions of British imperial power. Their security depended on maintaining good relations with the local Native Americans, who incorporated the forts into their economic and social life as well as into their strategies. This book uses official British records, traveler accounts, archaeological findings, and ethnographic information to reveal native contributions to the forts’ stories. Based on in-depth research at five different forts, the book considers features that seemed to arise from Native American culture rather than British imperial culture. The book’s perspective reveals that British fort culture was heavily influenced, and in some cases guided, by the very people these outposts of empire were meant to impress and subdue. The book recaptures the significance of small-scale encounters as vital features of the colonial American story, without arguing their importance in larger imperial frameworks. It specifically seeks to reorient the meaning of British military and provincial backcountry forts away from their customary roles as harbingers of European imperial domination.

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