‘Southerners’ as Indians? Andrew K. Frank, Kristofer Ray, ‘Indians as Southerners; Southerners as Indians: Rethinking the History of a Region’, Native South, 10, 2017, pp. vii-xiv


Excerpt: It is not news to readers of Native South that the standard definitions of “southerners,” “southern culture,” and “southern history” exclude American Indians. In the essay that introduced this journal to the public in 2008, founding editors James Taylor Carson, Robbie Ethridge, and Greg O”Brien voiced their frustrations about the field”s myopia. “The metanarrative,” they observed, reveals “a deep impression that southern social relations were singly derived from and are still predicated on the binary racial construct of black and white.” Their observation remains accurate nearly a decade later. Debates continue to focus extensively upon the consequences of tobacco, rice, and cotton culture. Prominent works on southern history explore in great detail the origins and evolution of African slavery, the emergence of a planter mentalité, the development of slave societies, the violence inherent in early modern race relations, and the contradiction between the rhetoric of the American Revolution and the reality of slavery. They subsequently examine the political, social, religious, economic, and gendered debates that sowed the seeds of sectional controversy as the nineteenth century progressed. After the Civil War, southern historiography focuses heavily on economic discrimination, white supremacy campaigns, the construction of Jim Crow laws, the Great Migration, and the origins and evolution of the long civil rights movement. This narrative is unquestionably sophisticated and illuminating, and has come a long way since the days of the “Lost Cause” espoused by scholars such as J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, U. B. Phillips, and William Archibald Dunning. But the metanarrative remains the same: to study southern history is to explore a biracial story.

%d bloggers like this: