AMERICAN INDIAN PLACES
A HISTORICAL GUIDEBOOK
by Frances Kennedy
As the first-ever all-in-one guidebook to Indian sites throughout the United States, AMERICAN INDIAN PLACES (Houghton Mifflin, September 23, 2008) explores 366 public places that are significant to Native Americans. Organized geographically by the homelands and subsequent movements of the peoples, the book documents the history of American Indian places in the contiguous 48 states. With an encyclopedic range of information, maps highlighting historically prominent Native American landmarks, and color photographs of panoramic views and natural landscapes, the book captures the cultural importance of the land to the heritage of all Americans.
Frances H. Kennedy, the editor and principal contributor of the best-selling Civil War Battlefield Guide, here weaves together the voices of those who have lived in or studied Native American places, revealing historical and cultural perspectives on these places. In this eclectic volume, more than 275 authorities who know and revere these landscapes have written essays, compiled oral testimonies, and documented both personal and collective Native American histories. Catherine S. Fowler describes tribal people of the Great Basin who, moved by a sense of custodianship, make mountains the focus of their prayers. Suzan Shown Harjo writes about Native sacred places as naturally formed churches. The repertoire of writers includes tribal culture committees, leading American Indian scholars – including Clara Sue Kidwell and Rennard Strickland – and historians such as Frederick E. Hoxie and David Hurst Thomas.
History is the continuous struggle to appropriate the land, and this book reminds us of how the legacy of colonialism, massacres, and forced migration has shaped race relations and redefined the places we now inhabit. In his essay, Philip J. Deloria points out that “The contest for North America, then, was defined not only by military domination and resistance; it was also defined by the claiming, translating, and erasing of Indian places.” In this historical guidebook, we are transported back to colonial California, where Catholic missions were used as instruments of Spanish conquest; we learn that Wall Street was named after a barricade built by the Dutch to protect their settlements from the Indians; and we learn from Fred Anderson’s account of the Seven Years’ War that the first military encounter was between a Virginia regiment led by twenty-one-year-old George Washington and the French in southwestern Pennsylvania. Yet the collective voices of Natives and non-Natives transform these areas into symbols of the richness of diverse cultures.
“Because so many voices speak through the book, it is more than place-based history,” Kennedy says in her introduction. “The Native voices share their emotional and cultural responses to the places and provide insights into what they mean to Native people. The non-Native voices provide archeological and historical information about the cultures that these places embody.” Together, the voices flesh out the combination of the tangible and intangible that makes the landscapes truly Native American.
“The physical place and, perhaps more important, its spirit, derive directly from the substance and sensibilities of the first citizens of the Americas,” writes W. Richard West, Jr., the founding director of the National Museum of the American Indian. By reframing the American map through the lens of indigenous peoples, AMERICAN INDIAN PLACES prompts us to remember the centrality of tribal groups to the shared heritage of all who call themselves Americans.
FRANCES H. KENNEDY
Frances H. Kennedy is the editor and principle contributor of the best-selling book The Civil War Battlefield Guide. Her work in land conservation over thirty years has focused on protecting lands that are significant in American history. American Indian Places will be launched on the fourth anniversary of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. Proceeds from the book will be donated to the museum. W. Richard West, Jr., the museum’s founding director, served as the primary adviser for the book.
American Indian Places
by Frances Kennedy, editor
September 23, 2008
$29.95, 368 pages, ISBN-13: 9780395633366
Jacket scans and press materials are available at www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com
Contact: Emer Flounders
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