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The American Revolution in Indian Country: Crisis and Diversity in Native American Communities (Studies in North American Indian History) Hardcover – April 28, 1995
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"...a research work that is as readable as it is thorough....While each page is copiously footnoted, the footnotes never interfere with Calloway's supple prose. Maps and drawings accompany the text, and there is a detailed index." Kliatt
"It is a searing account of the impact of the Revolution on Indian Life." Bernard Bailyn, The New York Review of Books
"This is an unfailingly judicious and thorough book." Eric Hinderaker, Western Historical Quarterly
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Colin Calloway is the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College. A British American scholar, Calloway has written several books exploring the Native American role in the American Revolution and adjoining eras. He also holds the John Kimbrall, Jr. 1943 Professor of History chair at Dartmouth. He earned his Ph.D at the University of Leeds in 1978 and moved to the US thereafter. This book was written while he was at the University of Wyoming. It was one of his earliest works in this field.
I found the book to be fascinating. It was one of the earlier works that explored the roles of Native Americans during the Revolution. These people are given a deep view and Calloway makes a strong effort to show how they made their choices at this time. He makes it clear that these people were not united and that each group made individual choices as to what to do. Many sought neutrality, but unlike previous conflicts, this one left no room for a middle ground. They were forced to choose sides and unfortunately none of those choices were good ones for these people.
Calloway explores several tribes and how they experienced this time period. The tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Abenaki, Cherokee, Seminole, Chickasaw and the Stockbridge Indians are examined as are others. The book does not serve as a definitive guide to Native American relationships with whites in the Revolution. It is far too short for that. Instead, it serves as an introduction to the vast complexities which are almost always part of the historical past. The choices available to these people were not ones which they wanted. War with the colonists had ended in defeat for many tribes shortly before the Revolution and revenge was an obvious reason why some wanted war.
But, older leaders saw nothing but failure in supporting the British in this conflict and their voices were ignored. Of course, they didn’t see much of a future with the colonists either as the colonists exerted a constant westward pressure against the tribes. The Revolution would be a watershed moment for all in that struggle. Calloway captures this as he explores a broad swatch of Indian-British-Colonist relationships to expose the vast mosaic they formed. The result is a very good book which is used in many schools as an entry level exploration of this aspect of the Revolution.
I particularly liked the fact that footnotes were used in the book. They are quite voluminous and reveal the extent of Calloway’s research into the subject. It is quite clear this is not a casual research entry for Calloway, but part of his life’s work. The first and last chapters serve as excellent bookends to the book and excellent reading for students who need to learn that the Revolution was not just a struggle between whites. I find it useful material in my survey course. As I am preparing a semester long course on the American Revolution, I am going to use those chapters for the course readings to expose students to the greater scope of the conflict. I also point out to students that many of the events in the book are part of a longer struggle for control of the Ohio River Valley between Native Americans and Europeans, later Americans. Obviously, I recommend this book for anyone who wants to study the Revolution in its full history.
In "The American Revolution in Indian Country," Colin Calloway offers a fresh perspective on the American Revolution that will leave the reader somewhat disquieted and much more thoughtful.
Calloway, a British citizen teaching American history in the United States, is in the wonderfully odd position of coming face-to-face with both sides of the American Revolution. Wisely, he backs away from tangling with the American creation myth, and focuses on the forgotten people whose lives were irrevocably changed by competing loyalties.
In this carefully researched and well-written book, Calloway focuses not on Indian tribes per se, but on geographically separated 18th century American Indian villages.
The blending of cultures, the plight of the refugees, the resultant rage and sadness, the ultimate betrayal by both the British and the Americans after the war, form a poignant sociological history. This is a story of the American Indians' search for Independence.
I confess to skipping ahead to read about Oquaga, NY where my grandfather was born, and then going back to read the rest of this book. I wish my grandfather were alive to read this book. It would have meant a lot to him. Oquaga, like the Cherokee town of Chota, was flooded in his lifetime to create a reservoir.
I would have liked to have also seen an in-depth exploration of the related Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania massacre of white settlers by combined Tory and Indian forces.
This book is highly recommended.
Side note: The very small font size makes this book appear far more daunting than it is. I cannot fathom why a publisher of the stature of Cambridge University Press would use such tiny print. The text is hard to see, offers no space between thoughts, or visual cues for transitions. It was truly a false economy to cram so many words on a page.
A well researched book with documented footnotes that tells it like it was back then. Amazing.
Well worth the price, especially if you have any American Indian ancestors.