Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent

Article excerpt

The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent. By Kathleen DuVal. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. Pp. ix, 320. Illustrations, maps, list of abbreviations, notes, index, acknowledgments. $45.00.)

Kathleen DuVal's splendid first book works the intersection of two important recent themes of North American history. One, in work by Stephen Aron and Arkansas's Morris Arnold, portrays the Mississippi basin as, in the title of Aron's newest book, an "American confluence" where various peoples, institutions, and influences converged to produce one of the continent's most dynamic eras over the past four centuries. The other, epitomized by Richard White's The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (1991), gives us a conceptual frame for understanding the process and consequences of those various cultures converging, borrowing, and redefining themselves. DuVaI sets her sights on an especially active part of that vital region, the Arkansas valley, and she teases out the story, with smart analysis and in close detail, of the sort of cultural give-and-take described by White. But she adds an illuminating complication. A true "middle ground" emerged only when there was a rough parity of power among the players, as around the southern Great Lakes area that White studied. Not so in the Arkansas Valley, however. Power there was decidedly unequal, and most of it was held not by European would-be colonizers who have gotten most of the attention in earlier histories, but by Indians, in particular the region's remarkable kingmakers, the Quapaws. This was not a middle, but a native, ground.

DuVal opens by sketching the valley's deep history up to the 1540s when Europeans entered this "bordered land" (a term borrowed from Aron) where native centers of power pushed against one another and negotiated access and use of the country and its resources. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.