Monday, October 23, 2017

Cattle, cotton, and capitalism in Indian country

Last summer the redoubtable editors of the Age of Revolutions weblog asked Your Humble Narrator to contribute a post on Native American history. I am pleased to report that my essay, "The Economic Revolution in Indian Country," is now live on the AoR site. It is part of a series that includes contributions from my friends and colleagues Karim Tiro, Kathleen DuVal, and Andrew Frank.

Had I written the piece five or seven years ago, when I first started contemplating Native American economic history, I probably would not have included my George Colbert quote, which came from my later research on the Chickasaws. I also would not have qualified my paragraph on cotton cultivation with the phrase "not found east of the Rio Grande"; I hadn't yet internalized the Pueblo Indians' pre-Columbian domestication of cotton and production of cotton cloth. It's sometimes hard for someone trained in the East, or even in the Midwest (Kentucky counts as Midwest), to recall that western Indians have a very rich history of their own prior to the nineteenth century.

The editors estimate that one can read my blog post in 11 minutes, but I suspect it will also inspire at least 66 seconds of historical musing. I always try to give 110 percent.

(The image above, "Benjamin Hawkins and the Creeks," is from the Greenville County (SC) Museum of Art, and is in the public domain.)

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