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A Strange Likeness: Becoming Red and White in by Nancy Shoemaker

By Nancy Shoemaker

The connection among American Indians and Europeans on America's frontiers is sometimes characterised as a sequence of cultural conflicts and misunderstandings in keeping with an enormous gulf of distinction. Nancy Shoemaker turns this suggestion on its head, displaying that Indians and Europeans shared universal ideals approximately their such a lot basic realities--land as nationwide territory, govt, record-keeping, overseas alliances, gender, and the human physique. sooner than they even met, Europeans and Indians shared perceptions of a panorama marked through mountains and rivers, a actual global within which the solar rose and set on a daily basis, and a human physique with its personal unique form. in addition they shared of their skill to make feel of all of it and to invent new, summary rules in accordance with the tangible and visual studies of way of life. targeting japanese North the USA up in the course of the finish of the Seven Years conflict, Shoemaker heavily reads incidents, letters, and recorded speeches from the Iroquois and Creek confederacies, the Cherokee state, and different local teams along British and French resources, paying specific consciousness to the language utilized in cross-cultural dialog. sarcastically, the extra American Indians and Europeans got here to understand one another, the extra they got here to work out one another as diverse. by way of the top of the 18th century, Shoemaker argues, they deserted an preliminary willingness to acknowledge in one another a typical humanity and as an alternative built new principles rooted within the conviction that, via customized and even perhaps via nature, local americans and Europeans have been peoples essentially at odds. In her research, Shoemaker finds the 18th century roots of putting up with stereotypes Indians built approximately Europeans, in addition to stereotypes Europeans created approximately Indians. This strong and eloquent interpretation questions long-standing assumptions, revealing the unusual likenesses one of the population of colonial North the United States.

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Europeans divided land into Dutch miles, English miles, leagues, acres, arpents, morgens, perches, poles, and chains. The Indian equivalent was to measure land by time. 38 The scientific measurement of 22 A STRANGE LIKENESS land divided all Europeans from Indians in a highly visible way—in the para­ phernalia they each brought to council, the language of travel, mapmaking, and descriptions of land’s boundaries. The custom of private landholding also influenced how European colonists went about adding to their sovereign territory once they arrived in America.

And marks memorialized events and people, usually in the form of stone slabs or metal plaques carved or imprinted with written inscriptions, the same kind of 30 A STRANGE LIKENESS memorial Europeans erected over graves. In contrast to Indian marks, some European marks resulted from scientific land surveys. 80 Similar methods demarcated territorial sovereignty. ”81 Stone mark­ ers served the same purpose. Surveyors defined the Caughnawaga Indians’ land boundaries “by stones being put in the Ground with his Britannick Majestys Coat of Arms,” and they divided New York and Canada with “Monuments of Stone wth.

In the early nineteenth century, as the United States government pressed Indi­ ans in the East to move westward, officials attempted to reassure Indians that they would find a sufficient livelihood in their new lands: that there were riv­ ers and springs and that the hunting would prove plentiful. However, govern­ ment officials and Americans in general had little regard for the emotional pangs removal would bring for the Indians’ loss of a landscape that was evocative of their collective past and the repository of the graves of their ancestors.

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