Catalogue


Facing East from Indian country : a Native history of early America /
Daniel K. Richter.
imprint
Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 2001.
description
x, 317 p. : ill., maps.
ISBN
0674006380 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 2001.
isbn
0674006380 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
4619088
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Pulitzer Prize, USA, 2002 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2002-06-01:
Eschewing the usual litany of failed diplomacies and resultant military campaigns between Indians and whites during the Colonial era, Richter (Univ. of Pennsylvania) offers a more ethnohistorical view. In his focus on various Indian adjustments to changing conditions between 1600 and 1800, Native peoples emerge not as the "passive victims" alleged by earlier historians, but as insightful individuals who were constantly redefining their relationships with other peoples through the traditional cultural concepts of reciprocity, kinship, and mutual respect. An initial chapter examining how "rumors" of European arrivals stimulated changes even before direct physical contact is followed by an excellent analysis of how seemingly mundane European trade goods entered preexisting North American trade networks, revolutionizing Native life. Richter demythicizes the standard accounts about Pocahontas, Kateri Tekakwitha, Metacomet, Pontiac, Tecumseh, and Tenskwatawa to demonstrate how white settlers consciously created false images to justify economic, religious, and military exploitation of Native inhabitants. A final selection discusses how the speeches and essays of William Apess, the nation's first Native American writer, turned the standard imagery upside down and condemned the great injustices of the Colonial and revolutionary eras, trying to prevent further injustices associated with the forcible removal of eastern tribes beyond the Mississippi River. This innovative and well-written book is intended for all adult audiences. M. L. Tate University of Nebraska at Omaha
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-10-15:
Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the acclaimed The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (Univ. of North Carolina, 1992), Richter here offers a masterly work that eschews the long-standing perception that Native Americans were nothing more than marginalized bystanders as Europeans colonized North America. Focusing on the period between the 15th and 18th centuries, the author instead shows that Native American communities adapted to the many stresses introduced by the arrival of the Europeans and were active participants in creating a new way of life on the continent. This title, which should be read alongside Richard White's The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (Cambridge Univ., 1991), provides a valuable perspective that is often overlooked in books about the same period. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries. John Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-10-22:
At the center of this bold and thoroughly astonishing history of Native Americans are narratives of three Indians generally known to Euro-Americans: Pocahontas, Blessed Catherine Tekakwitha and the Algonquin warrior Metacom, also known as King Philip. Telling each of these stories a romance, the life of a saint, the destruction of a "noble savage" from the European and then the Native American perspective, Richter elucidates an alternative history of America from Columbus to just after the Revolution. Taking his cues from historian Carl Becker's famous assertion that history is "an imaginative creation," Richter, director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, recasts early American history from the Native American point of view and in doing so illuminates as much about the Europeans as about the original Americans. After explaining the vast scope of Native American culture probably more then two million native people lived east of the Mississippi in 1492 in villages that were "decentralized and diverse, but not disconnected" Richter reconstructs the Native American experience of the European. Using a variety of sources missionary tracts, official state art (the seal of the Massachusetts Bay Company featured a native with the words "Come Over and Help Us"), military reports and religious writings by both Europeans and Native Americans he describes a world far more layered than that of accepted U.S. history. Exploring the varying complexities of different native peoples' relationships with England, France and Spain, he argues that the Native Americans were safer during the colonial era than after the Revolution, when the idea of a white, democratic country took hold. Gracefully written and argued, Richter's compelling research and provocative claims make this an important addition to the literature for general readers of both Native American and U.S. studies. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
Richter offers a brilliant retelling of the old stories of European colonies and empires through Native eyes. Facing East from Indian Country may be as close as any scholar has come to synthesizing an "Indian perspective" on early American history This is a book not to be missed.
With keen insight, deep reading, and a sparkling wit, Richter makes new and compelling sense of American history, radically shifting our perspective on the past. Balancing vivid imagination and a respect for the unknown, Richter crafts a powerful and engaging story that is essential to understanding our place in time on this continent.
From its title to its very last page, Facing East from Indian Country spins us around. But rather than dizzying, this turnabout is clarifying, freeing us from the blinders of a European perspective on the early American experience. Vast in scope yet intimate in its attention to particular people, places, and moments, Richter's book is a moving, thought-provoking work of scholarship.
Most American histories treat North America's indigenous peoples as ancillary to the more important story of the establishment of a European nation in the New World. What would happen if one shifted focus and transformed the usual bit-players into stars? Richter...makes that shift and produces what may, for its impeccable use of primary sources, smoothly well-wrought prose, and passionate argument, become a classic.
Richter insists that we must look over the shoulders of American Indians to see the Europeans who settled the New World to have a complete understanding of our origins. His depiction of how these original Americans adapted to the new-comers and how they were inevitably betrayed by generations devoted to "freedom" and "opportunity" are especially telling.
Richter demythicizes the standard accounts...to demonstrate how white settlers consciously created false images to justify economic, religious, and military exploitation of Native inhabitants...This [is an] innovative and well-written book.
[Richter] has written a provocative new interpretation of early America from pre-contact to the early 19th century...[H]e places early America in the context of Native American society and history and not solely in the rush of colonial expansion...Historians of the American West and scholars of Western Native American studies will find much value in Richter's retelling of early American History.
Richter here offers a masterly work that eschews the long-standing perception that Native Americans were nothing more than marginalized bystanders as Europeans colonized North America. Focusing on the period between the 15th and 18th centuries, the author instead shows that Native American communities adapted to the many stresses introduced by the arrival of the Europeans and were active participants in creating a new way of life on the continent...[He] provides a valuable perspective that is often overlooked in books about the same period. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.
In his acclaimed volume Facing East From Indian Country, Daniel Richter turns the tables on 'conventional' histories of early European-Indian relations by looking east from the Mississippi River rather than west from the Atlantic Ocean...Richter approaches, from the Indian perspective, the history of early contact with Europeans through the founding of the U. S., with emphasis on tribes' immeasurable contribution to the history of the continent. He culls Native voices from surviving documents and records, pulling Indians from the periphery of white America's memory and making them the focal point of the post-contact story.
At the center of this bold and thoroughly astonishing history of Native Americans are narratives of three Indians generally known to Euro-Americans: Pocahontas, Blessed Catherine Tekakwitha, and the Algonquin warrior Metacom, also known as King Philip. Telling each of these stories--a romance, the life of a saint, the destruction of a 'noble savage'--from the European and then the Native American perspective, Richter elucidates an alternative history of America from Columbus to just after the Revolution...Gracefully written and argued, Richter's compelling research and provocative claims make this an important addition to the literature for general readers of both Native American and U.S. studies.
An excellent, ambitious attempt to restore to history long-overlooked Indians who 'neither uncompromisingly resisted...nor wholeheartedly assimilated' in the face of white encroachment...A hallmark in recent Native American historiography that merits wide attention.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, September 2001
Library Journal, October 2001
Publishers Weekly, October 2001
Booklist, November 2001
Los Angeles Times, December 2001
Choice, June 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
In rediscovering early America as Indian country, Richter employs the historian's craft to challenge cherished assumptions about times and places, revealing Native American experiences at the core of the nation's birth and identity. 15 halftones.
Main Description
In the beginning, North America was Indian country. But only in the beginning. After the opening act of the great national drama, Native Americans yielded to the westward rush of European settlers. Or so the story usually goes. Yet, for three centuries after Columbus, Native people controlled most of eastern North America and profoundly shaped its destiny. In Facing East from Indian Country, Daniel K. Richter keeps Native people center-stage throughout the story of the origins of the United States. Viewed from Indian country, the sixteenth century was an era in which Native people discovered Europeans and struggled to make sense of a new world. Well into the seventeenth century, the most profound challenges to Indian life came less from the arrival of a relative handful of European colonists than from the biological, economic, and environmental forces the newcomers unleashed. Drawing upon their own traditions, Indian communities reinvented themselves and carved out a place in a world dominated by transatlantic European empires. In 1776, however, when some of Britain's colonists rebelled against that imperial world, they overturned the system that had made Euro-American and Native coexistence possible. Eastern North America only ceased to be an Indian country because the revolutionaries denied the continent's first peoples a place in the nation they were creating. In rediscovering early America as Indian country, Richter employs the historian's craft to challenge cherished assumptions about times and places we thought we knew well, revealing Native American experiences at the core of the nation's birth and identity.
Publisher Fact Sheet
This innovative work "rediscovers" the history of America from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries from the perspective of Native Americans.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Early America as Indian Country
Imagining a Distant New World
Confronting a Material New World
Living with Europeans
Native Voices in a Colonial World
Native Peoples in an Imperial World
Separate Creations Epilogue: Eulogy from Indian Country
A Technical Note
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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