By James Axtell
This quantity contains a brand new number of essays--four formerly unpublished--by James Axtell, writer of the acclaimed the eu and the Indian and The Invasion inside of: the competition of Cultures in Colonial North the US, and the most important modern authority on Indian-European kin in Colonial North the USA. Arguing that ethical decisions have a valid position within the writing of historical past, Axtell scrutinizes the activities of varied eu invaders--missionaries, investors, infantrymen, and usual settlers--in the 16th century. targeting the interactions of Spanish, French, and English colonists with American Indians over the japanese 1/2 the U.S., he examines what the historical past of colonial the US may need gave the look of had the recent international actually been a virgin land, with out Indians.
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Additional resources for After Columbus: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America
As they move through texts and documents, students will discover that other words bear watching. " The "nomadic" Indians of the Eastern Woodlands did not wander; they commuted on an annual cycle between familiar residences. By the same token, the American environment was a "wilderness" only to the European newcomers, not to the natives who called it home. And only the rare certifiable homicidal maniac sought to commit "genocide" upon the Indians. The vast majority of settlers had no interest in killing Indians and those who did took careful aim at tempo- 44 AFTER COLUMBUS rary political or military enemies.
Many of the words we use to describe native people and culture are relative, having no concrete reality in themselves; their meaning depends on other words that are equally slippery. ' It is based, of course, on an ethnocentric ranking of societies, with those of Western Europe at the top. ' In other words, the meanings of all these terms depend on an imaginary construct, a social-evolutionary hierarchy in the speaker's mind which has no objective or historical reality. Understandably, the criteria for this ranking of societies are never stated explicitly because they are the familiar prod- 40 AFTER COLUMBUS ucts of cultural habit rather than the earned results of philosophical analysis.
Contemporary moral judgments enable us to enter the lives of the men of the past. "31 By this technique, Washburn's bilateral interests in moral history and the history of morals will coalesce. While two societies in the past may have been evenly matched in the contest for moral and cultural superiority, the surviving documentary record of their respective positions may be much less equal. If the sources for one society are slim, a sensitive application of imagination and empathy to a mastery of the available sources can often establish a culturally valid standard of judgment by which to redress the balance.
After Columbus: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America by James Axtell