The Encyclopedia of Native American Economic History

Article excerpt

The Encyclopedia of Native American Economic History offers a unique perspective on economic development in North America, primarily because it constantly reminds the reader of the fundamental contradictions that this process has entailed. A view of economic processes fundamentally different from orthodox scholarly analysis emerges in many of the volume's entries. In total a picture of economic activity is projected that links consumption, cultural conflict, social and ecological reproduction, and the transformation of group identity. This volume takes exploratory steps toward the development of alternative explanations of economic growth and change in society, particularly as these processes relate to the meaning of race and ethnicity. The book's strongest sections are those that offer a multi-faceted view of the overlapping effects of political, social, and economic institutions on Native American groups. The volume includes several entries of this kind dealing with topics such as the legal status of Native American lands, agricultural development, environmental degradation, and the manner in which Native American groups have organized cultural and economic life historically.

Nonetheless the book contains several weaknesses that require attention in future revisions. For instance much of the content is superfluous, offering somewhat trivial information about topics such as the linguistic origins of the names of various states and cities. …