From Chicaza to Chickasaw: The European Invasion and the Transformation of the Mississippian World, 1540-1715

From Chicaza to Chickasaw: The European Invasion and the Transformation of the Mississippian World, 1540-1715

From Chicaza to Chickasaw: The European Invasion and the Transformation of the Mississippian World, 1540-1715

From Chicaza to Chickasaw: The European Invasion and the Transformation of the Mississippian World, 1540-1715

Synopsis

In this sweeping regional history, anthropologist Robbie Ethridge traces the metamorphosis of the Native South from first contact in 1540 by Hernando De Soto to the dawn of the eighteenth century, when indigenous people no longer lived in a purely Indian world but rather on the edge of an expanding European empire and in a new social landscape that included a large population of Europeans and Africans. Despite the fact that thousands of Indians died or were enslaved and virtually all Native polities were radically altered in these years, the collapse of this complex Mississippian world did not extinguish the Native peoples of the South but rather transformed them. Using a new interpretive framework that Ethridge calls the "Mississippian shatter zone" to explicate these tumultuous times,From Chicaza to Chickasawexamines the European invasion and the collapse of the precontact Mississippian world and the restructuring of discrete chiefdoms into coalescent Native societies in a colonial world. Within this larger regional context, she closely follows the story of one group--the Chickasaws--throughout this period. With skillfully synthesized archaeological and documentary evidence, Ethridge illuminates the Native South in its earliest colonial context and sheds new light on the profound upheaval and cultural transformation experienced by the region's first peoples. In this sweeping regional history, anthropologist Robbie Ethridge traces the metamorphosis of the Native South from first contact in 1540 by Hernando De Soto to the dawn of the eighteenth century, when indigenous people no longer lived in a purely Indian world but rather on the edge of an expanding European empire and in a new social landscape that included a large population of Europeans and Africans. Despite the fact that thousands of Indians died or were enslaved and virtually all Native polities were radically altered in these years, the collapse of this complex Mississippian world did not extinguish the Native peoples of the South but rather transformed them. Using a new interpretive framework that Ethridge calls the "Mississippian shatter zone" to explicate these tumultuous times,From Chicaza to Chickasawexamines the European invasion and the collapse of the precontact Mississippian world and the restructuring of discrete chiefdoms into coalescent Native societies in a colonial world. Within this larger regional context, she closely follows the story of one group--the Chickasaws--throughout this period. With skillfully synthesized archaeological and documentary evidence, Ethridge illuminates the Native South in its earliest colonial context and sheds new light on the profound upheaval and cultural transformation experienced by the region's first peoples.

Excerpt

This book is about the history of the American South during the first 200 years of European colonization. It is a story about the collision of two asymmetrical worlds—the emerging modern world of Europe and its American colonies and the centuries-old Mississippian world of the American South. In the telling of this history, Native polities and people, rather than European ones, take central place. Also centered is the attempt to reconstruct something about the lives of Southern Indians between the time of the earliest Spanish exploration in the sixteenth century to the early decades of the eighteenth century (ca. 1540–1715 C.E.). Within this large, regional context, our focus through these tumultuous years is on the Chickasaw Indians. Admittedly, the story sometimes gets quite sketchy because of limited historical and archaeological evidence, and our focus shifts at these times to other peoples in the South, where the evidence is stronger and the reconstruction clearer. Still, the Chickasaw story can serve as an introduction to a largely unfamiliar historical terrain of people and places of the early contact-era South.

The concept of a “world” is not new. A “world” is a geographic area and a historical era including various polities within that time and space and the network of political, economic, cultural, and social relationships that exist between them. This network of relationships includes phenomena such as war, peace, détente, hierarchy, power, subordination, dominance, exchanges, trade, and so on. A “world” is not a discrete geographical unit because its borders can be porous and it can be connected to quite distant places. The “Atlantic world” is a well-known world construct, as are the “Mediterranean . . .

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