This Land Was Theirs: A Study of Native North Americans

This Land Was Theirs: A Study of Native North Americans

This Land Was Theirs: A Study of Native North Americans

This Land Was Theirs: A Study of Native North Americans


This Land Was Theirsexamines the traditional and contemporary lifeways of twelve North American Indian tribes. Ranging from the Netsilik hunters who straddle the Arctic Circle to the Natchez farmers of the lower Mississippi River area, the tribes represent each culture area and various levels of socioeconomic complexity among Native Americans. Each chapter focuses on a specific group and culture area, providing students with a detailed portrait of the geographical and cultural adaptations of that region.

As he has done for previous editions, author Wendell H. Oswalt has visited virtually all of the extant groups discussed in the text to ensure an accurate and complete picture of the contemporary situation.
Updates and major changes featured in this edition include:

• A new chapter on the Western Shoshone--a Great Basin tribe centered in Nevada--including a discussion of the 2004 partial resolution of their long-standing major land claim against the federal government

• A description of how in recent years some Pentecostal church congregations among the Crow and Tlingit have rejected their Indian backgrounds

• A discussion of how the discovery of vast diamond deposits in northern Canada may dramatically change the lifeway of some Chipewyan and the Netsilik

• Coverage of timely issues for Native Americans, including the management of individual trust accounts by the Bureau of Indian Affairs; the disposition of Kennewick Man; and the U. S. Supreme Court ruling on theLaracase in 2004, which centered on an aspect of Indian sovereignty

• A more detailed examination of Indian casinos, including typical non-Indian reactions to them

This Land Was Theirs, Eighth Edition, incorporates more than 150 photographs and illustrations, and each chapter-opening offers pertinent text about the subject matter covered in that chapter. Abundant pedagogical aids include maps of each region discussed, a glossary, a pronunciation guide, and two appendixes: a guide to the various artifact types discussed in the text and an extensive list of additional resources for learning about Native Americans.


The first edition of This Land Was Theirs, published in 1966, introduced a
different approach to the study of Native Americans living north of Mexico. The
emphasis was, and remains, on traditional and changing Indian lifeways. The
tribes with chapter-length presentations represent culture areas and varying de
grees of cultural complexity. The tribal accounts include scientific and human
istic approaches to anthropological data. Likewise, ecological, ethnohistorical,
functional, structural, and other perspectives are included as appropriate. Thus,
no single orientation dominates.

The two opening chapters address questions commonly asked about Na
tive Americans, such as their prehistory, history, and current issues, including
Indian casinos. This and additional background material are followed by twelve
chapters about specific populations. After brief introductions, most chapters
begin with early ethnographic accounts. The Navajo chapter is an exception be
cause most information available is ethnohistorical, and the Navajo emerged as
a tribe in the comparatively recent past. Each chapter plots historical develop
ments to the fall of 2004. The concluding chapter offers an overview of Native
American life with emphasis on the present and the near future.

The tribal chapters reflect differences in sociopolitical life (band, tribe,
chiefdom), and particular aspects of their lifeways are accented. The presen
tation sequence is as follows. The Netsilik (Eskimo, Inuit) of north-central
Canada, with their dog teams, seal hunting, and snowhouses, represent a “clas
sic” Eskimo group in the Arctic culture area. Considerable emphasis is placed
on their material culture and the impact of food stress. The Chipewyan of north
western Canada represent Subarctic hunters and fishers; their adaptations to the
fur trade are highlighted. The Lower Kootenai in Idaho and British Columbia
represent hunters and fishers in the Plateau culture area; they provide an op
portunity to examine the impact of Canadian and U.S. policies on a single
group. The Western Shoshone in the Great Basin culture area represent a “clas
sic” example of gatherers; their land claims against the federal government are
emphasized. The Crow of the northern Plains represent foragers, and their
historic emphasis on horse-related activities. The Cahuilla, with an aboriginal
economy focused largely on wild plant products, inhabit an arid sector of
the California culture area. The circumstances leading to the vast present-day
wealth of the Palm Springs group are reviewed. The Tlingit of southeastern
Alaska represent Northwest Coast culture area salmon fishers. Their attitudes
toward property and wealth are central concerns. The Hopi of the Southwest . . .

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