Monday, November 21, 2011

What I Saw of the 2011 Ethnohistory Conference, Part Two

Continued from my previous post, here are summaries of or excerpts from nine more papers I attended last month at the annual meeting of the American Society for Ethnohistory:

Evan Nooe
argued that violence, as employed by the Red Stick Creeks in 1812-13, was part of the Creeks' judicial system, and that their targets in the Fort Mims attack of 1813 tended to be white women and children because Creek men were attacking lineages, not individuals.

Elena Vega Olivera revealed that the children's novel Island of the Blue Dolphins was based on the story of a real person – a California Indian woman stranded on San Nicolas Island, who was "rescued" in 1853 and died of illness almost immediately thereafter.

Kristalynn Shefveland reminded her audience that the Chesapeake colonies were major players in the 17th-century Indian slave trade, and observed that the enslavement of Native Americans, particularly children and those convicted of crimes, continued in Virginia well after a 1691 statute banned the practice.

David Silverman argued that if the New England Algonquians had maintained their access to the trading center of Albany, they might have been able to prevail in King Philip's War, but their exclusion therefrom by the Mohawks cut off their supply of powder and ammunition.

Christina Snyder observed that elite Choctaw students at Richard Johnson's Choctaw Academy behaved rather like the sons of white planters, breaking into Johnson's house and holding "drunken orgies" with the (perhaps not-entirely-willing) daughters of Johnson's slave "concubine" Julia Chinn.

Jessica Stern explained something I'd been wondering about for ages – why British trade regulations stipulated that traders in the southeast had do business in Indian towns (answer: so that chiefs could supervise the trade) – and then noted that Indian hunters routinely ignored these regulations.

Carl Strong gave an ill-considered paper about John Collier's efforts to disprove the "Indian-ness" of the Unkechaug and Shinnecock Indians of Long Island and the Lumbees of North Carolina.

John Troutman told the story of Neal "Pappy" McCormick, an Creek musician who led a Hawaiian/hillbilly/gospel band (one of whose performers was Hank Williams, Sr.), and later became an activist for federal recognition of the remaining Georgia Creeks.

And Susan Wade talked about the evolution of maple sugar into a valuable commodity in the Great Lakes Indian trade; the Ojibwe sold this former "starvation food" (Larry Nesper's words) to the American Fur Company, which in turn shipped it by the ton and marketed it in Cleveland, Detroit, and other Great Lakes towns where cane and beet sugar were expensive.

Thanks to all for their presentations, and for making this a stimulating conference.

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