Monday, March 6, 2017

Studying Native Americans in the Southwest

Chief Nutimus Netawatwees (born 1650)

Native Americans and American History 
by Francis Flavin - US National Park Service


In the American Southwest, Indians interacted with Spaniards, Mexicans, Americans, and other Indians. Several studies synthesize the historical and cultural interactions between Indians and their neighbors. One eminently readable—but rather lengthy—study is Elizabeth A. H. John’s award-winning Storms Brewed in Other Men’s Worlds: The Confrontations of Indians, Spanish, and French in the Southwest, 1540-1795 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975). John examines Spanish-Indian relations from Coronado’s visit to the Pueblos to the collapse of imperial Spanish authority at the end of the nineteenth century, arguing that over the decades— and centuries—Indians and Spaniards worked out a system of mutual accommodation. Another lengthy but well-written study is Edward H. Spicer’s Cycles of Conquest: The Impact of Spain, Mexico, and the United States on the Indians of the Southwest, 1533-1960 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1962). Spicer’s study extends beyond John’s to include Indian relations with Mexico and the United States. A similar—but more recent and shorter—study is Gary Clayton Anderson’s The Indian Southwest, 1580-1830: Ethnogenesis and Reinvention (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999). David Roberts provides a well-written, broadly-accessible survey of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 in The Pueblo Revolt : The Secret Rebellion That Drove the Spaniards Out of the Southwest (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004).

Peter Iverson has written several tribal histories on the Navajo Indians, one of America’s largest and most influential tribes. Diné: A History of the Navajos (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002), is a richly-illustrated broad overview of the Navajo people that will appeal to a broad audience. Iverson’s Carlos Montezuma and the Changing World of American Indians, 2d ed. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001) examines the life of a Yavapai Indian who was born in the mid-nineteenth century, attended college, and became a leading Native American rights advocate in the early twentieth century.

Forrest Carter’s Watch For Me On the Mountain (New York: Delacourt Press, 1978) is a fast-moving, spirited work of historical fiction about Geronimo and the Apaches’ struggle against the U.S. military. Another appealing biography is Eve Ball’s award-winning Indeh: An Apache Odyssey, revised ed. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988). Her book presents a series of oral interviews conducted with several Apaches, in particular Ace Daklugie, son of the famous warrior Juh, whose life spanned the pre-reservation and reservation periods. The interviews are sometimes humorous, sometimes sorrowful, but always sensitive and informative. Those searching for a traditional account of the Apache wars should consult Dan L. Thrapp’s The Conquest of Apacheria (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967).