Enduring Nations: Native Americans in the Midwest

By McClinton, Rowena | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Fall/Winter 2009 | Go to article overview
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Enduring Nations: Native Americans in the Midwest


McClinton, Rowena, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


Enduring Nations: Native Americans in the Midwest. R. David Edmunds, editor. (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2008). 296 pages including Index. Cloth: $75.00; paper: $20.00.

Complementary to Helen Hornbeck Tanner's Atlas of the Great Lakes Indian History (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), R. David Edmunds's anthology reinforces the diversity and complexity of Great Lake Midwestern Native American communities. Examining the ever- changing landscape and societal transformations Native tribes experienced, this collection exposes ways tribal groups adapted to cultural change while shaping Great Lakes' history. It documents forced removal to reservations and urban centers far from their homelands, gender roles, and tribal economies and enterprises such as Sauk, Meskewaki, and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) women digging lead (galena), and twentieth-century Menominee as lumberjacks Edmunds has assembled some of region's leading historians: Alan G. Shackelford, Lucy Eldersveld Murphy, Thomas Burnell Colbert, Stephen Warren, Bradley J. Birzer, Susan Sleeper- Smith, Gregory Evans Dowd, Rebecca Kugel, Brenda J. Child, James B. LaGrand, Brian Hosmer, and Melissa L. Meyer.

The bulk of the essays emphasize the years after the War of 1812, the last of major Indian military efforts in conjunction to the British cause. The exception is Shackelford's "The Illinois Indians in the Confluence Region: Adaptation in a Changing World." His piece explores how and why internal political factionalism led to the demise of an Illinoisan culture, Cahokia, a pre-Columbian American Bottom society at the confluence of the Illinois, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers. Yet their mounds and religious sites identify them as extraordinary peoples in conterminous North America. For the post-Columbian period, contributors have examined the transformation of Native society within the context of European influence. These authors propose ways Native peoples and their leaders intensified their struggles to maintain tribal identity within the demands of a state form of government and the shifting of government policies. Persistent themes and issues plaguing Native -American leaders, today and yesterday, were "walking that fine line" while protecting their tribal constituents; federal Indian agents' dictates presented them with precarious situations.

Examples of essays are as follows. In the 1830s Black Hawk era, Colbert's "The Hinge on Which All Affairs of the Sauk and Fox Indians Turn': Keokuk and the United States Government," contends that tribal leader Keokuk, also called "money chief," toiled endlessly to reject Black Hawk's militarism while promoting good will toward federal agents to secure temporary reservations for his people in Iowa. His followers, though they did ultimately suffer from displacement across the Mississippi River, fared better than those tribes forcibly removed from their homelands east of the Mississippi. Perhaps, manipulating the system more effectively than either Black Hawk or Keokuk was Miami métis Jean Baptiste Richardsville, of mixed French and Indian blood.

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