New Insights: Native American History in the Colonial Period

New Insights: Native American History in the Colonial Period


ALAN PRICE: –Director of
the Kennedy Foundation. And on behalf of all of our
colleagues on the library side and the foundation
side, we welcome you to this evening’s forum. It would be marvelous if
everyone here could just take the moment to silence
any electronic devices you may have brought with you. We would very much
appreciate that. I would like to acknowledge
the generous support of our Underwriters of the
Kennedy Library Forums. Our lead sponsor is Bank of
America, the Lowell Institute, and Gourmet Catering. Our media sponsors The Boston
Globe, Xfinity, and WBUR. I’m also delighted to welcome
all of you who are watching tonight’s program online. Colin Calloway has
kindly agreed to sign copies of his new book
following tonight’s program. And for your convenience,
our bookstore has copies of the book for sale. We are so pleased to have
the opportunity this evening to enhance our understanding
of American history by bringing renewed
attention and new technology to bear on Native American
life and the intersections with colonial settlers and
Europeans during this period. I’m now delighted to
introduce tonight’s guests. Colin Calloway is the John
Kimball, Jr. 1943 Professor of History and Native American
Studies at Dartmouth College. He is the author of The Indian
World of George Washington: The First President,
the First Americans, and the Birth of a Nation and
numerous other works including The Victory With No Name:
The Native American Defeat of the First American Army,
and Pen and Ink Witchcraft, Treaties and Treaty Making
in American Indian History. Julia A. King, a
Professor of Anthropology at St. Mary’s
College in Maryland, has 30 years experience
studying, writing, and teaching about historical archeology and
Chesapeake history and culture. Her book Archeology Narrative
and the Politics of the Past: The View from Southern
Maryland received a Book Award from the American Association
of State and Local History in 2013. Philip Deloria is
Professor of History at Harvard University where
his research and teaching focus on the social, cultural,
and political histories of the relations among American
Indian peoples and the United States as well as the
comparative and connective histories of indigenous
peoples in a global context. He is the author of
Playing Indian and Indians in Unexpected Places and the
co-editor of The Blackwell Companion to American
Indian History and the co-author of American
Studies: A User’s Guide. Please join me in welcoming our
special guests this evening. [APPLAUSE] PHILIP DELORIA: So
I’m going to with I think that’s something
that’s appropriate for us to do whenever we
gather together. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] I’m Phil Deloria. I’m coming to you from Harvard. My family comes from the
Yankton people in South Dakota. We’re gathered
together this evening on the ancestral territory
of the Massachusetts people. Many indigenous communities
have lived and moved to this place over time. And so we recognize also the
Wampanoag and Nipmuc people among others. And it’s worth our recognition
that indigenous people from many nations live and
work in this region today. So I ask you to join
with us in acknowledging their communities, paying
respect to their elders past and present, and recognizing
their active presence and their futurity reposed
in the generations present and to come. So what I’ve just done
is a land acknowledgment. It’s something that
happens in Canada. It’s something that
happens in New Zealand. It’s something that
happens in Australia. And increasingly, it’s
happening in the United States. And it’s part of, I
think, a general sense that we need to think
hard about the land that we’re on and to recognize
the people who still have ties to that land or who are still
here in relation to that land. Native people make up about
1.5%-1.7% of the American population. It’s according to
the last census. And I think one of the
things that those of us who study native people, and
care about native people, and are affiliated and
committed to native people understand is that native
people get about 1.5% of our collective
attention or maybe less. And this is actually not right. It’s not right in relation to
the various structures on which the nation is built. It’s
not right in relation to the policies,
and to the laws, and the legal structures that
are part of the United States today. And so part of our effort, I
think as scholars and as people who study these
things, is to think hard, and hopefully with
you, about how we actually bring more than 1.5%
attention to native people. As we were talking
before we went on, Collin mentioned that land
acknowledgments at Dartmouth have become a bit more of
an important kind of thing. And I wonder if we
might start Colin with you sort of reflecting
about what those things do for us, what they mean,
how they function, why they are important,
how they connect up to the sort of histories that
we’re talking about today? COLIN CALLOWAY: Of course, yeah. For those of you who are
not familiar with Dartmouth, Dartmouth was founded
in 1769 ostensibly as a school for the education
of Native Americans. Didn’t do terrifically well in
that regard up until 1970 when the college recommitted
itself to the education of Native Americans. And since 1970, I
think our Native alumni now number in excess of 1,100
from every tribe from Abenaki to Zuni. And every class I have
has Native students in it. So Dartmouth, one would hope,
would be a little bit more sensitive to these issues. And I think it is. The Hood Museum at
Dartmouth, which has recently reopened after being closed and
renovated over a couple years, has included in
its architecture, if you like, a
land acknowledgment statement recognizing that the
museum and Dartmouth College sits on Abenaki homeland. And not only that,
but it mentions that this is unceded land
because the Abenaki did not make treaties in New
Hampshire and Vermont. And that raises a question. But people have
asked about that. Well, why do this? Is it just a matter of respect? Is it just a formality? And certainly it’s
a matter of respect. But I think from my perspective,
non-native perspective but as a historian
studying this continent, it does matter because
whatever else it does, it’s a reminder to us of the
bottom line, as I see it. And that is that this is a
nation built on Indian land. And that is not
revisionist history. That’s actually just a fact. In 1491, it was all
Native American land. And now most of it is not. And I use that not
so much as introduce let’s all feel good or guilty
about everything but rather as a basis for rethinking
American history. When I teach and write about
Native American history, I’m conscious of the fact
that I’m not Native American. When I teach
American history, I’m conscious of fact
I’m not an American. So what I can bring to the
study of Native American history is not insights from
tribal culture– I’d be foolish and
presumptuous to try and say that was the case– but rather to look at American
history with Native Americans not ignored– as Phil suggested–
but included. And increasingly over the years,
I’ve become convinced that we cannot understand American
history without Native Americans in it. So even writing and teaching
Native American histories is more than just
showing respect, perhaps delayed recognition
to native people. It also matters
to the rest of us because we all live
on this continent. And we deserve a
better understanding of how things came
to be they were, and how the history of
this continent unfolded. Lots of things don’t happen
without Native Americans. There are lots of
things that make no sense if Native
Americans are not included. And yet, very often I
think in our history, it’s written and told as
if that were not the case. And so what we’re left
with, I think sometimes, is what Ralph Waldo
Emerson referred to as a shallow village tale. Great nations deserve
great history. And that needs to be
much more inclusive than a lot of the things that– certainly I grew up
reading and read last week. PHILIP DELORIA: So
one of the things I think that’s interesting
about the work that both of you do is that you’re both
engaged with the revision or the complication or
the telling of new stories relative to some of the
stories that are familiar. And I wonder if each of
you might take a moment– and Julia, maybe we
should start with you– and sort of tell us about
sort of the classic narrative and about the ways that your
work actually transforms this. So some of your really
interesting archeological work in Virginia, it feels
to me, has the potential to completely change around
some of the narratives that we think we know
about the Powhatan Confederacy and other things. And I wonder if
you might reflect with us about that a bit. JULIA A KING: Sure. I’d love to do that. And I want to say to your point
about the colonial history is that colonial history
is Native American history. And it took me a long
time to get there through graduate school. It just wasn’t taught. It was sort of this
void that was not filled until I started to really
work in Maryland and Virginia. And of course, I met a lot of
Native or indigenous people. And the Native story is
often missing in museums or it’s segregated in this
museum or that museum. It’s not integrated. And there’s real
problems with that. At the same time, even as we’re
adding the Native American component to the colonial
history component– which we should do and not
just add, but integrate– my work with Native
Americans has revealed– and I’m not Native either. So I always feel, you know, I
don’t want to be presumptuous– but what I’ve heard repeatedly
is we did not start– our history did not start in
1492 or 1565 or 1607 or 1620 or wherever you happen to be. It started thousands
of years before. And that’s where archeology
can come in and play a role. [COUGH] Excuse me. And archeology, most people
who train in archeology are trained in departments
of anthropology. My background is both in
anthropology history and– not both– but and
also American Studies or American civilization and
a very cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, way
to think about the world. And one of the
things I’ve learned about working with
Native histories is how local you often
have to really be. You know, Native Americans, we
sort of put them all together as Native Americans, but
they’re highly variable and very different. And it varies across counties,
not just across regions. And some of the work
that we’ve been doing in Maryland and Virginia– because we’re archeologists
and we’re very concerned with objects, and context,
and the materiality of life– we’ve been working with things
like geographical information systems, GIS. And I have people
on my staff who can do that a lot better
than I can but together we can put that information,
we can download– what we call big data. You’ve maybe heard
that phrase big data. And we can put that
information along with oral history, documentary
information, modern day life ways information
and put it in there. And a lot of people
use GIS to store data but you can also put
it through its paces. And some of the
things that we have found in working in Virginia is
with the Powhatans is at this– and I realize it’s a long
way to get to the answer to your question– but the
Powhatans occupy a huge place in our national narrative. And in Powhatans or
[INAUDIBLE] almost every child knows the story of Pocahontas. And if you look at
Captain John Smith’s map from the early 17th century
that mapped the Chesapeake, you’ll see that he puts
Powhatan way up into Maryland. And people began to realize
early on that that was not the case. But they put Powhatan to
about the Potomac River. And part of this is you would
see these towns, these nations, on the north side of a river,
for example, the Rappahannock River in particular. And the notion was that
they had put space between– put the river between
themselves and Powhatan because of the long powerful
arm of Powhatan and really created this
narrative that we now realize has just got to be relooked at. The reason that people
are on the north side of the river in
many of these cases is that’s where the good soils,
the marshlands, the access to the waterways, where those
ecological variables occur together. They tend not to occur
together on the south side. So it’s actually an ecological
and not a political reason that the people are
on the north side. And if you really start
to drill down into it, you find out that the
Virginians especially are talking about
Powhatan because they’re right there in his country. And so he’s going to loom
very large in their view. But in fact, GIS is helping
me understand that we really don’t know as much
as we think we do because we have invested so
much in these early writings. And I’m not suggesting
that these early writings are worthless, not at all. It’s just that there are
other pieces of evidence that we can bring to bear on
looking at these questions. PHILIP DELORIA: I
mean as a historian, it’s always nice to
work with archeologists and find the ways that
archeologists can complicate our engagements with
sources, and particularly the sort of interesting
methods that archeologists bring to bear. So what I’m hearing you
say is we might imagine, you know, there’s a familiar
story about Pocahontas. Oh, she falls in
love with John Smith and the kind of Disney version. And then there’s a more
complicated historical version that we all might have engaged. Right? We say no, no, no. This was a diplomatic ritual. This was a ceremony. This was something. But even that story is
premised on the notion that the Powhatan Confederacy
is this massive kind of looming sort of
political entity that’s sort of out there. And it feels to me like
one of the things you’re suggesting with
your work is perhaps that might be
shrunk a little bit. And perhaps the Rappahannocks
might be increased. And what would it
mean for us to change the political geography of
that portion of the Eastern seaboard? And that feels
applicable, perhaps then, to other sorts of things. Am I reading it right? JULIA A KING: Exactly, yeah. And in fact, the Rappahannock
do not loom large. But if you look at some of the– this opens up these
other questions or these other historical
facts and archeological facts. And you start to
realize, wow, they do seem that there is a big
story there that’s just been– for over 100 years– kept under wraps. PHILIP DELORIA: So
Colin, I wonder if we might turn to you because– I’m going to hold the book
up and encourage you all to go to the bookstore. It’s got a lovely cover which
we’re just talking about. I’m a fan of it. And Colin’s quite proud of it. You know, in some
ways, Colin, book might be read in the genre
of the Founding Father’s Biography the great Founding
Fathers biography of the Ron [INAUDIBLE],, David McCullough,
Joe Ellis kind of mode. These may be works that some
of you may be familiar with. But as I kind of worked
through the book, it feels to me
like it’s not that. And I’m wondering if you might
talk, then, a little bit more about what is your
central claim here? How does putting Indians
in American history change the nature of our
understanding of sort of the genre of Founding
Father biography and of the story that we tell
about the early Republic? COLIN CALLOWAY: So I’ve written
a lot of books, I suppose. And usually when I
publish a book, people go, hmm, OK, and start it out slow
and fizzle out altogether, I suppose. But this was Washington, right? And as soon as people knew I
was writing a book about George Washington, suddenly I
had offers of contracts and all kinds of
attention, et cetera, which was a bit of a surprise
but not entirely unexpected because my thinking in writing
this book was quite strategic. I did have an agenda. Actually, it hadn’t
been out long when I got an email from
a gentleman who said I’ve been reading your book. And I stopped reading it. Why would you want to make
George Washington look bad? [LAUGHTER] And I assured him, and I assure
you, that was not the purpose. But I did have an agenda. And this was quite tactical. I’ve been doing
this a long time. And people like Phil and
myself and our colleagues have been doing this
an awful long time. And part of what
you hope is that you will change, if you like, the
popular narratives a little bit and see your work
filtering down. But I think we still find
that has limited effect. And so my thinking was I’ve
been saying this for a long time that we need to include Indian
people in American history to understand American history. What better way to do that
than to take, if you like, the most famous American,
an icon of American history, and show how Native America
and Native American people shaped the life of the
man who shaped the nation. And so it’s sometimes
called a biography. I never thought of
it as a biography, although Washington’s life
gives us a natural structure. And as Julia’s was
talking, and as I have been reading Julia
over the last few days, the work she’s done
is fascinating. And I’m thinking it’s far more
fascinating than what I do. I’m just a historian. I read documents. But I think that’s the point. You can do this. I grew up when reading
Indian history– when Indian history was out West. Right? It was cavalry and Indians. And then when it started
to become serious, it was United States
policy for Indian people. And then it became what we
call ethnohistory which sounded more complicated than it was. It was basically if you’re
going to study people’s history, you should try and
study their history in the terms they would have
experienced and understood that history. That to me is history. Why would you do
any other than that? But I don’t think I’m doing
anything very complicated. For a lot of times,
I’ve read historians who said you
actually can’t really do Indian history because they
didn’t produce any records. Well, that’s nonsense
to begin with. There’s all kinds of ways in
which Native people recorded history and preserved
their history with care. But even in Great Britain
records, there’s tons of stuff there. Part of the reason I
was able to do this book was because of the
tremendous work that people on the Papers
of George Washington and other Founding
Fathers have done in collecting all those papers,
digitizing them, et cetera. I challenge anybody to read
through the Papers of George Washington and not come
away with the impression that Indians mattered
and really mattered. He spends a lot of time
talking about them, thinking about them, meeting
in his Cabinet about him. And his life is shaped
in important ways. Phil mentioned that
little book I wrote called Victory with No Name. It’s called that because it’s
called St. Claire’s defeat. An American general
lost this battle. He lost this battle because
an Indian Confederacy won this battle. And in doing so they
destroyed the only army the United States had
in 1791 when the United States is 15 minutes old. And nobody’s sure if
it’s going to survive. And the reason I wrote that
book was because nobody had written that book. Hundreds of books on the Battle
of Little Big Horn and General Custer, but why nothing on this? Not just because it matters
as an important event in Indian history,
but it surely matters to give us a better
understanding of what the young Republic was like. And everywhere I looked
in Washington’s life there were examples like that. Things like the first
invocation of what we might now call executive
privilege happens first in the wake of St.
Claire’s defeat when the first
congressional investigation committee says we’re going
to find out what happened. This defeat happened because of
contractor fraud, as American as apple pie. We’re going to follow the money. Where will the money lead? We know where it’s
going to lead. It’s going to go to the
Secretary of the Treasury. Who is that? Alexander Hamilton. It wasn’t like now,
everybody hated back then. And so that was
the investigation. And they asked for– we want the documents. We want the papers. Washington huddled
with his Cabinet, because as first president he
knew he was setting precedent. And they said, yeah, you’ve
got to give up the papers. But you should
withhold those that might be seen as detrimental
to the public interest if you release it. It’s because of Indians. So it’s not simply about
injecting new players into the story, although
it surely is that, but looking at ways in which
Native American presence and power– because we know
how the story ends. Or, it hasn’t ended, but we
know where we’ve gotten to. And we think of
Native American people as defeated and powerless. Not in Washington’s lifetime. Indian people controlled
most of the continent. And Indian power was something
that George Washington had to reckon with. So in my answer to my
email correspondent, I said, even if you regard
Washington as the greatest president ever, isn’t one
attribute of his greatness is dealing with this
reality of Native power that threatens the
young Republic? And nobody’s talking about it. And I think people are
not talking about it not because it’s generations
of historians have been lazy and not
gone through the records. But I think they’ve been going
through the records interested in other subjects and
asking different questions. So I think really
all that I’ve done is spend my life going
through written documents where Indian people
are not supposed to be and finding Indian
people everywhere. My first experience of this
was as a graduate student, in England, when
my supervisor who knew nothing about Native
Americans said go to London. Come back when you
found something. So I started working through the
records of the British Indian Department and the
National Archives, as it is now, Public Record
Office then and the British Library. And I thought I was
never going to get out of there because
those guys took down verbatim every speech that
Indian spokesmen, leaders, said. And I was just
there months after– I was sleeping on my
brother’s floor in Wimbledon. So I was conscious of how
long I was going to be there. [LAUGHTER] And it seemed like I
would be there forever. And actually, I think
I could have been. Native Americans everywhere
in the written records. And that’s where
I’m trained to work. That’s where I work. And all you have to do, I
think, is look for them. PHILIP DELORIA:
As historians, we know that it’s not just the
British Colonial Archives, right? But the United States
Record Group 75 in the National Archives
is a massive trove of documents,
bureaucratic documents, that just goes on forever. And you actually have to
have a lot of expertise. You can’t do this by yourself. You need an archivist to
kind of walk you through it. Pitch for the National
Archives, by the way. [APPLAUSE AND LAUGHTER] I mean that, though, actually. I mean I will shout out
Mary Frances Morrow who is the archivist who I
have worked with there and has been the most
wonderful and helpful person because these are
very, very complicated and copious sorts of records. Colin, I wonder
if you might sort of– so you mentioned
Washington in terms of being shaped by the existence
of this Indian power that sits out there. And it’s with us
remembering, right? It takes 400 years, lots
of epidemic disease, lots of violent military conflict
to actually bring Indian people under the control of Europeans. It doesn’t happen easily at all. Right? So that power is there. It’s constituted
and reconstituted in all kinds of different ways. And it’s persistent. So you sort of mentioned
Washington’s awareness of this power and the
ways in which he governs relative to its existence. And one of things that’s
striking about the book is the many occasions on
which Washington actually has direct contact
with Indian people. Here’s a dinner
with Little Turtle. And then, oops, three
days later, there’s another dinner with the Creeks. And all of a sudden here’s
Alexander MacGillivray. And some part of this
is him as a president and an administrator. Some part of it is him as a
young person and a surveyor. Some part of it is him
as a military officer. I wonder if you might pick one
episode of Washington’s life that you think it bears
repeating or us thinking about in relation to sort
of the character of him and who he becomes
and how he becomes. Is it his experience as a
surveyor out there on the edge? Is it his experience
with Braddock? Is it his failures
in the early going? Is at his experience as
a town destroyer, a name that’s actually in his family– interesting tidbit
I did not know– during the Revolutionary War? Is there a particular moment
that sort of jumps out at you in Washington’s life? COLIN CALLOWAY: Well,
one of the moments that did jump out at me. I’m not sure that it’s
a pivotal moment where you were referring to dinners. I think it’s the last week
of November 1796, I think. George Washington as
President has dinner on four different
days because they used to have dinner
in the afternoon. He has dinner on
four different days with four different Indian
delegations to Philadelphia. So if you visit Philadelphia
and go to the old city, it’s not that huge. You couldn’t walk
down the street without bumping into
Native American delegation. And that was not, I think,
because George Washington necessarily liked having
dinner with Native Americans but he recognized
the importance of it. And in fact, on one
of those occasions, he said to Henry Knox
tell interpreters don’t talk about land. Right? Because he knew that they knew
that he was interested in land. And Washington, rather
than a single moment– if I looked for a single
thread running through Washington’s life– I’d say it was land. As a young man, he
started out as a surveyor. He constantly looked at
land as a surveyor would. He recognized Western land
as the key in the path to his own fortune, as
the key and the path to Virginia’s
future and fortune, and as the key and the
path towards building this new nation. And so it’s a life, in
some ways, that almost seems obsessed with land. And he never calls
it Indian land. He calls it land, Western land. But before I started
doing this project, I read a lot of biographies of
George Washington most of which said very little about
Indians or Native America. But what I started doing
was mentally going through and every time they said Western
land or land, either adding or inserting Indian
land, I said, ah, the whole book’s about Indians. Because I said this is a
nation built on Indian land. That might sound sort of
radical to some people. Washington said that. Washington knew that. This was Washington’s
plan for the nation. He understood that without
expanding onto Indian land, the United States would
amount to nothing. If it remained stifled
east of the Appalachians, it would never
achieve its power. So there’s that combination
which, I suppose, is not unique in
American history where someone’s own
economic interests and the national interest
seem to come happily together. And Washington, I
think, by the time he dies I think he has
45,000 acres of land which wasn’t the apex of his land. But he’s one of the richest
landowners in America. His will goes on page after
page after page about this land. And of course, it’s land
acquired from Native Americans. And I don’t single Washington
out, although he was– at a time, he’s a
man of his times. Everybody is speculating
in Indian land because that’s what you did
in 18th century America. It’s just that Washington
was better than most, more aggressive than most. But he understood this as
the path of the future. So even without Indian
people in the story, this is a story
about Native America. And fundamental, I
believe, in the history of this country is the story in
which tribal homelands become converted to
American real estate. I’m not Native American. But I am from a tribal
background, Highland Scots. Same thing happened there. You take people’s homelands
that have been permanent where people live and die
and are tied to the lands through stories and ancestors. And you dispossess
them of the land but then you do
something more with it. You turn it into property. It can be measured. It can be bounded. It can be commodified. And it can be bought and sold. That’s a fundamentally
different relationship, I think, with the land
than tribal peoples– and let’s face it. I suppose for most
of history, people have been tribal peoples–
have had with the land. And that’s, of course, a huge
part of the American story. And Virginia is at the forefront
of Western colonial expansion and Washington’s at the
forefront of Virginian expansion. PHILIP DELORIA: So this sense
about Indian land being sort of the object of
Washington I think maybe points us, Julia,
back to something you said earlier which
concerned periodization. And I think it’s always
nice when archeologists and historians can start
to wrangle a little bit about periodization. But you struck me when you
said, look, 1492, 1607, 1620, the Revolutionary War. These markers are not
necessarily as fixed. They feel fixed to
us in the same way that a decade seems
like it has meaning. But in fact, if we
really interrogate it, it kind of doesn’t, right? So I wonder if you might say a
little bit more about the ways the archeology and
historical archeology is able to press back
against these boundaries. I’m thinking of an article
possibly in William and Mary Quarterlies, I believe
by Juliana Barr, who says let’s get rid of
the 1492 thing altogether. Right? Let’s imagine the same sort
of histories on this continent that we imagine in Europe. And I wonder if you might
reflect with us a bit more about that kind of
approach as a way of, like Colin sort of calling our
histories into question a bit. JULIA A KING:
Well, archeologists love to come up
with periods, too. So the historians don’t have
the corner on that market. I do want to mention
about the town destroyer. And in fact that event– and I don’t know that they’ve
actually found the record where John Washington– who was the
great grandfather of George– came into Maryland and
actually put a Susquehanna Town under siege and then dealt
with the Susquehanna leaders very unfairly, called
them out for a parlay, and then executed them. And supposedly, that’s
where the name comes from. To go back to the
idea of periodization, I mean in some ways I think
to create periods is human. I mean that’s how we catalog. We can classify. That’s what we do. It’s that, as you said,
that these are not the final absolute, if
you move the bar or talk about different periods. And I think that’s
the challenge is to try to conceive
of different periods. I mean, for example,
the Colonial Period. When you hear people talk
about colonial history, we often think it’s up
until the Revolution. But we really live and we still
suffer through the structures of colonialism
and live in what I would say is not a post-colonial
society, even if we sometimes call it that. I do think that what archeology
can bring to the table– and archeology can’t
go out and find– I mean maybe we can
go dig at Mount Vernon or dig at Valley Forge and
find some of these places– but we bring the
power that exists between Native America
and the colonies to bear through the
through everyday objects in the archeological record. There was– and I think it was
an anthropologist, Ian Quimby, back in the ’40s and ’50s. And he had noticed how in some
of these archeological sites that these sites were supposedly
occupied by Native Americans but they were all
European materials. And so this question became sort
of like you are what you wear. You are what you eat. And that these individuals had
become European, that somehow Indianness was gone. And this plays into that
trope of Indian disappearance which we are always fighting
against as a country I think trying to figure out where– and
that trope starts very early. It wasn’t just invented
in the 20th century. I mean it’s used to dispossess
natives of land all the time. And so you know the more
we looked at some of these materials– because there are
definitely Piscataway sites, Rappahannock sites, are the ones
that I’ve mostly worked on– that are completely
they look European. If you didn’t know where you
were and the documents weren’t there, they look very European. And of course, that’s all
part of the dispossession. Once you are forced off your
land, that native knowledge that you have for good clay
sources, good food sources, that’s disrupted. That’s the way that you
start to break things up. And we see people use the
break knowledge as a way– breaking knowledge as
a way of getting people to do what they want. So we’re now able to look
at the more subtle patterns and see how there is
examples of resistance in what seem like these European
archeological assemblages. They could be through
beads, the colors of beads. As you drill into
the documents, you start to realize that color– and again this is
recorded by Europeans. Your colleagues are
right that there’s not a lot there has been
recorded by Native people. But as I tell my
students, if we wait for the perfect data
set to come along, we’re going to be
covered in dust. The perfect data set
will never come along. But you’ll find
references to colors. And we can see what may be
evidence of Indian attitudes– at least in the
Middle Atlantic– towards the
dispossession changing in the color of bead
assemblages that are recovered from these sites. Now, we’ve recovered
things that survive. So we recover things that
preserve, I should say, in the archeological record. But embedded in these everyday
objects are the forms of power that Washington was
probably working against on an everyday basis. COLIN CALLOWAY: Could I just– PHILIP DELORIA: Yes, please. So I wanted to talk to you two. COLIN CALLOWAY: One
of the reasons why I think that kind of work
Julia does is so important and the Native histories
are so important is that it lengthens what’s a very
short history in this country. So East St. Louis
is today, there was an indigenous city
from somewhere between– probably had its
beginnings around 700 AD. And it was gone before Columbus. But at its height, it had a
population of maybe 20,000 people and maybe 30,000 people
if you counted the suburbs. It was a trade center. So I always say to
my students, do you think those people didn’t think
it was going to last forever? Did you think that
people in Rome didn’t think the empire
was going to last forever? There’s a movie Patton: Lust
for Glory George C. Scott. And he’s in North Africa. And he’s musing about Hannibal
and the wars against Carthage and all of this kind of thing. And he says, so
his mind tells him, that in Imperial Rome when a
victorious general returned to the city and had
a victory parade, they put a slave in
the chariot behind him. So he’s walking
through the streets getting all of these accolades,
slave’s whispering in his ear. Don’t let this go to your head. This is all temporary. This will pass. And I’ve used that
in one of my books. Good example– I’m talking
about depth of research. Because I think
nations need that, too. That if you’re top dog having
come from a nation that used to think it was top
dog, if you’re top dog, it’s not going to last forever. And maybe the signs are
there that that the wheel is going full round. And I think that in
a nation which has– even from a European
perspective– a very short history if we only begin in
1776, or 1609, or even 1492, that’s a blink. And there’s human experience
in this comment going back tens of thousands of years. And if we don’t think
that we’ve got anything to learn from that,
today when we’re looking at the impending
crisis we deal with, I think we ignore
that at our peril. PHILIP DELORIA: The case, I mean
there’s a disciplinary thing I think that’s interesting here. Historians like to write books. Archeologists kind of tend
to write more articles. I mean and this is maybe
a gross generalization, but you’re sort of nodding
Julia, so I’m going to take it. I mean is it is it the case– I mean the book requires
a long form argument. It lives in narrative. It likes to tell stories. It can tell grand stories. The article tends
to be a research report on very specific
kinds of things. And I’m just wondering, it
does feel to me if we say let’s throw 1492 out and let’s
imagine– as Colin has said– there is a deep history
of this continent. It is very much like the deep
history of Europe, right? It’s completely analogous. And we shouldn’t sort of
pretend that it’s not. I mean how close are we? Is there an
archeologist out there? Is this Charles Mann? How close are we to having
a kind of narrative? Is it possible given the state
of archeological knowledge to sort of narrate a deep
history of the continent, of empires and civilizations
rising and falling and different kinds of things? Because I think that the way
that the story is so often told is before 1492 everyone is
kind of a nomadic person. And, yeah, there’s the Aztecs
and the Incas and maybe Cahokia and that’s kind of it. Everybody else is sort of– but that’s clearly not the case. I think we know this. So how close are we
to sort of having a synthetic narrative of this? Is somebody doing this? JULIA A KING: I’m sure
that people plan it as their life work to do it. And I would say we do
have those in archeology. We call them textbooks. [LAUGHTER] And they’re not always
written as engagingly as some of the other books. But you make a great point about
Cahokia and about what to do. And it’s been years since I
read it but was it the Joseph Nicolar? Do you know– where he
writes, I believe I recall. He writes the
history of his tribe. And colonization is this
teeny blip that’s not even– if you’re not paying
attention, you might miss it. But the history of Native
people on this continent is, as you said,
thousands of years. And at one point it
was 12,000 years. It’s being pushed
back with sites on the east coast in
Pennsylvania and in Virginia as well as more and more
archeology is getting done. And there’s a lot of
disciplinary structures– that I won’t go into here– for why maybe those grand
narrative synthesis haven’t yet appeared. But when they do appear,
archeologists love to step up and say they’re wrong. PHILIP DELORIA: That’s
why it hasn’t happened. JULIA A KING: Nobody listens to
us– archeologists sometimes. I mean I’m guilty of
saying that as well, too. But I do think that– when I was working on the book
I did about Southern Maryland I was trying to figure
out how to reimagine and invited the
Piscataway people to reimagine in St.
Mary’s City which was the place where the
Calvert family first arrived– and which my Piscataway
colleagues would say invaded– to, in that space, I gave
them some exhibit space in a new building that
we had and to reimagine the telling of that tail. And they did in ways
that I don’t know that– with my disciplinary structure– I would have told
it the same way. But it was very interesting. And it actually was really about
they want to make the point, we’re still here. We’re still here. We’re still here. I mean the legacy of
racism in our country– and implying that Native people
disappeared a long time ago or that they have a very
little bit of Native blood– whatever that means– in
them has done such damage. That I think, at least
in the Middle Atlantic, I find that the 19th
and 20th century history becomes really important. And yet at the same time,
they will remind you we were here 12,000, 13,000,
14,000, 15,000 years ago. I realize that–
just get a textbook. PHILIP DELORIA:
You know, I wonder if before we leave the
subject of archeology and maybe kind of
turn a little bit back to George Washington and
Indian policy, Julia, I wonder if you might just
say a couple of words. I mean one of the things– Native communities and
archeologists have not always had the happiest relationship. And in many ways because
American archeology anthropology has sort of been
based on excavations which to Native people oftentimes
looks like grave– and in fact, is– grave robbing, you know? So I’m wondering if
you think some of the– I’ve been fascinated by
the new scientific kinds of technologies that seem to be,
perhaps, interestingly applied. And I wonder if you feel
like that these things have the possibility to step
aside from that tension? If they tend to be more
productive in that sense? And I’m thinking of things
like there was a recent thing– I don’t know if folks read–
about DNA studies in relation to the clay tobacco pipes
which are everywhere, actually tracking
populations that way, LIDAR the kinds of things,
the sort of float thing that they do. They just toss dirt into a thing
and they centrifuge it now. And all of a sudden, they can do
these incredible ethnobotanical pollen studies. Applying big data methods
to limited data sources and building algorithms to
extrapolate out from that. I mean this feels like a
new set of possibilities, a new set of tools. And I’m just wondering if
you might reflect with us a little bit on the
possibilities of those things, perhaps some of the
perils of those things? If there are perils,
how it looks to you? JULIA A KING: Well, I do
think that archeologists have had a troubled
relationship with Native people. And I think it came to
a head with the passage of the Native American Grace
Protection and Repatriation Act, what’s known as NAGPRA,
I think was in 1990 or 1991. And archeologists were
really up in arms about that. And it was the greatest
boon to archeologists. It forced archeologists
to come to the table, to work with Native people. I think there might still
be some old school embedded attitudes. But I think that the more recent
generations and people working today– because you can tell
I’m not a recent generation– but that working
with Native people has actually enhanced
what we’ve learned. And it becomes this
collaborative exchange back and forth. The DNA is very interesting. In fact, a colleague
of mine– that came out of the Maryland
State Highway Administration. So archeology occurs
in interesting places. And I forwarded that link
to some of the Native people that I work with. And some were not sure. And others were like
let’s get on it. So it all depends. I mean, I do think that DNA– it’s a mystery to me. And I worry about how
it might get interpreted because you don’t want to see
it weaponized in the wrong ways. But there are all sorts– like I mentioned earlier– GIS, LIDAR, DNA, blood
residue analysis. Ethnobotanical analysis
is when you recover preserved plant remains. And you can get some sense
of domestication of plants or the use of wild plants. I mean these things are moving
forward by leaps and bounds. And we can bring them to bear. And I think because of the
trusting relationships that are starting to emerge
between not just Native people but
all communities who have the scientists come in
to tell them their history, I think that we’re going
to see history transform. And we are seeing history
transform in different ways. So I think it’s
really very exciting. And I think NAGPRA, even
though so many of my colleagues feared it, is one
of the better things that have happened to
us in the last 20 years. PHILIP DELORIA: I was on an
early NAGPRA consultation. And the fear was that, oh,
the Indians are backing up semi-trucks to the institution. And they’re going to
unload all of our stuff and take all of our good things. A delegation came from– this tribal nation came. The museum sort of reluctantly
pulled out maybe 200 objects, laid them on tables. The consultation
went on all day. At the end of the
day, the conversation was what do we need to
have a further conversation about in terms of repatriation? And it was four objects. And this was
interesting in relation to what had happened over
the course of the day which is the delegation would
pick up these objects. And they would talk about them. And the museum,
realizing that there was this incredible treasure
trove of information pulled out their pads
and their pencils. And they walked around
behind and what is this? And what is this? What is this? The utility and the value of
that Native knowledge which had not gone away, which
was completely there, which was completely evoked
by the objects, was far more– I mean it was almost
transcendent how much information was exchanged. And that ended up being
quite a good partnership. I think you’re exactly right to
think about and point to that. Colin I wonder if
we might come back around to George
Washington in terms of thinking about the ways
that Native people live and are in relation to the world. Some big part of that has
to do with the ways in which federal Indian policy and
state Indian policies– for example with Virginia– it was actually formed. And one of the things
that was so striking to me about the book is this section
that you have about Washington as a kind of early policymaker. And I wonder if you might
sort of think with us– you mentioned, for
example, the gridding and the commodification
of land, which comes out of the Land Ordinance of 1785,
or the Northwest Ordinance which sort of lays out a
road map for territories to become states. I mean these are the
foundational imperial and colonial policies that
make the United States go. So I wonder if you
might just think with this a bit more, speak
a bit more about Washington as a person who develops and
is part of the development of Indian policy which
has longer lasting kinds of consequence. COLIN CALLOWAY: Yeah, yeah. Of course, because Washington’s
the first president so he has a unique opportunity
to set the nation, if you like, on its course in dealing
with Native Americans. And Washington is
concerned about that. I don’t want to paint
a picture of him as this mindless land grabber. He’s a land grabber. He’s certainly not mindless. Because one of the things
that he’s concerned about is how is this
all going to look? We’re a new nation. We’re a Republic and a democracy
on a stage full of monarchies. People are looking at us. Our own citizens will
be looking at us. Posterity will look at us. He spends a lot of ink and a
lot of time worrying about this, especially writing back and
forth with Henry Knox who is the Secretary of War because
Indian Affairs at the time was in the War Department. Far too much ink for me to
dismiss that as mere hypocrisy. But the bottom
line for Washington and for the United States
is we must have this land. So when the United States
wins its independence in 1783, Great Britain transfers
to it everything south of the Great Lakes,
north of Florida, east of the Mississippi. And they can do that because
Europeans acquire land by right of discovery. You arrive some where,
you claim it by discovery. Then you can give
it to somebody else. You don’t need to have Indian
people at these treaties. That’s basically all
the United States has. It has nothing of an army. Its currency is– well, we
all know about its currency, not worth a nickel, right? No infrastructure. It’s broke at the
end of this war. What does it have? All it has is this
claim to land. And this land is inhabited
by Indian people. So you have to acquire
that land from them. How are you going to do that? Well, the British
had had a system. And that was
basically that you did this through formal treaties
open and above board to the extent that you
could do that so that there was a legitimacy to it. And that was the preferred mode. Right? We’re going to have
to take this land but we should do it
fairly and honorably. And so the Northwest Ordinance
that Phil mentioned in 1787 not only sets out the territorial
system in the United States, basically it sets
out a blueprint for national expansion
because American citizens are going to move West. The territory will form as
the population increases. Eventually a state will form. And this will be an
orderly kind of procession across the country. So that’s committing the nation. It’s envisaging a future
built on Indian land which requires dispossessing Indian
people of their homeland. But the same ordinance
says but we will always deal justly and fairly,
or honorably and fairly with American Indians. And we will never invade
them except in just and lawful was
authorized by Congress. There’s a phrase. So right from that
beginning, even before Washington’s
president, the new nation has committed itself
to national expansion and also committed
itself to this almost an inescapable contradiction. We’re going to take
your land from you but we’re going to deal
fairly and honorably with you. How is that going to work? Because it didn’t work so
well, but it remains a constant in American Indian policy. Whether it’s land
or resources, it continues right through
the history of the country. And Washington’s
preference was that we will do the right thing. So we will offer Indian people
a fair price for their land. And we will offer them peace. And in some ways I
think he’s perhaps even naive and optimistic. He kind of envisages
this as something that can almost
happen naturally. That as Americans move
into Indian Territory, they’ll drive the game away
so those hunting territories become less valuable and Indian
people will gladly give them up to hungry American farmers. It wasn’t that simple. And so when Indian
people, as they did, said thanks but no thanks,
then Washington and the United States had a problem because
you still have to have the land. And so when Washington’s
writing about Indian people when confronted with those
Indian people who were not willing to give up their land,
who resist American expansion, then these people
are recalcitrant. These are the people he
refers to as savages. And these are the
people who he says must be extroverted, rooted out. So you’ve got– as Jeff
Ostler describes it– Plan A which is a benevolent
American Indian policy which you should accept because
if you don’t we’ve got Plan B. And Plan B
will be what some people might call genocidal. But there is
another piece to it. And that is how could
you possibly take Indian people’s land and deal
fairly honorably with them? And Washington gave this
some thought and Jefferson gave it some thought
and articulated it. And, yeah, you can do this
because if you believe that Indian people are doomed to
extinction unless they adapt and adjust to this new way of
life and live like Americans– in other words
become civilized– then the best thing that
you can do for Indian people is to help them become
civilized or if necessary force them to become civilized. And they’re not going
to become civilized– which in late 18th or early
19th century American view means being sedentary
and farming. They’re not going to do that
if they’ve got all this hunting territory where
they can go hunting. Who would not rather spend
their time hunting deer than working from dawn
to dusk behind a plow? So now it comes into line. Because by depriving Indian
men of hunting territory, you’re actually
coercing them or even compelling them
to become farmers. And farming requires
far less land. And so they can sell off
the excess, surplus land to American farmers. So in that– what we might
think is almost a warped way of thinking– it actually works. You can civilize Indian
people out of that land. And that civilization
component becomes an element of American Indian
policy from that day onwards. And of course, it
leaves the United States open to these charges
of incredible hypocrisy. And of course, Jefferson
and Knox and Washington– they’re all hypocritical. They’re humans. We all are this. But I think at the
time, Washington– I see Washington
is really wrestling with this as a national issue. And I think Joe Ellis
is right on this. There’s two things
that the Founding Fathers, the Revolutionary
generation, dropped the ball. One was Indians and
one was slavery. And the Northwest
Ordinance, as Joe mentioned, does the same thing. We ban slavery. Slavery is prohibited in
the Northwest Territory. But it’s permitted
south of the Ohio. Well, that maybe look like
it might be a compromise to bide time in 1787. But what is it? Six years later, the cotton
gin’s invented and cotton is on the march
across the South. So these are issues that I see
these guys really wrestling with and, of course, failing
to come up with a solution. Because what would
that solution be? What could that look
like in a nation that’s predicated on a future
built on acquiring Indian land. PHILIP DELORIA: There are
these interesting moments– I’ll just make one
little thing and then I think we’ll turn and
open it up to questions. There are these
interesting moments where there does seem to be
a possibility within the sort of American political
infrastructure to imagine an Indian
polity existing within. So there is the Delaware
Treaty which says– and I think this is probably
sort of a cynical treaty, but it sort of says,
oh, the Delawares, you will have your own state. And you get to be the
head of the state. And other Indians will
be subservient to you. And then, of course,
all the way up until the early
20th century, there is the possibility of an Indian
state in that place called Indian Territory that
Indian people, at least, continue to take seriously
up until 1906-ish or so. Right? I mean so there is
a sort of sense– I think you’re
right that there is a kind of a real moral
wrestling with this. And I think it’s part of
the legacy of the British who also had a certain kind
of moral wrestling with this. At the same time, it’s
balanced by incredible sense of expediency that oftentimes
descends into cynicism I think. But to sort of say it’s wholly
cynical, I think would– I agree with you– I think that would be wrong. COLIN CALLOWAY: And I would
just to interrupt you, I would just interject that
think about the importance of treaties. And so I teach a
seminar on treaties. And as I look at the
history of this country and think about documents,
foundational documents. You’ve got the Declaration
of Independence that declares the independence. You’ve got the
Constitution which establishes the government. And then you’ve got Indian
treaties that deliver the land. And without the land,
the independence and the government– part of your freedom is the
freedom to get this land– and you have no nation. And so as I look at
it from the outside, there should be three
documents or sets of documents that are held
in national reference– Declaration of Independence,
Constitution, and Indian treaties. But as Phil knows only too
well, Indian treaties are not only not accorded
that deference, they are often
not even observed. But it’s a fundamental
part of it. There is a neat website
that our colleague Claudio Saunt has which is called
the Invasion of America. I teach a class called
the Invasion of America because it makes students
think, oh, did I miss something? But you can look on there and
you can pick your location and you’ll find which
treaty delivered the land. And then you watch this. It’s interactive. You can follow this all
the way across the country. PHILIP DELORIA: You know, and
I would say Colin in relation to these three, if we go to
Article VI of the Constitution, we find three bodies of law. Right? The Constitution
itself, those laws which will be
passed by Congress, and the treaties which
will be made, right? I mean so this is
actually embedded. Indian people are embedded
in the Constitution, and the Three-Fifths Clause
and the Commerce Clause, and I think by
implication in Article VI. I sound like I’m a
constitutional person. I’m really not. Let us open it up to questions. Please, when you do, we
want to move through as many as we possibly can. Try to make sure you’re
asking a question rather than making a statement. Don’t ask questions that
have already been asked. We all know how this works. Let’s do it right, deal? OK. There’s microphones
here and here. And if folks would like to
step up and ask our guests. AUDIENCE: Choose me. All right. Thank you very much for this. It’s very interesting. So President Jackson, when
he moved the Indians West, he made a statement
I believe I’ve read that he knew that all
treaties were nonsense, that they were never
going to be honored. And certainly he was in
the middle of an awful lot of Indian conflict. But he wanted to move them
West to the Mississippi. Was it disingenuous of him to
think that if we move them out there– and of course, they’re
going to have all the land they need, et cetera, to
live independently, because he was concerned that
they were going to become extinct– was it disingenuous
because did he really think American
expansion was going to stop at the Mississippi? Do you have any
historical understanding of what his thinking
was in relation to that? PHILIP DELORIA: Go ahead. COLIN CALLOWAY: So I would say
in answer to your question, I would think “disingenuous”
was a kind word to use for it I think. Well, Thomas Jefferson had
said at one point that– remember the
quotation– that there was enough land
between the Atlantic and the Mississippi
what to keep America going for 100 years and some
generations or something. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Jackson, I think, is a
different kettle of fish, although the seeds of
removal are with Jefferson. You know that you
are going to move Indian people from the land. But it’s only really with the
Louisiana Purchase of 1803 where you’ve actually got
some where to remove them to. So now you’ve got an alternative
if the options, as I laid them out, were you either go to
war to destroy Indian people or you civilize
them so that they’re absorbed into the society. Because that’s the goal,
is to assimilate them so that ultimately
they will disappear. That takes time. And Americans are impatient. And people like Andrew Jackson
are even more impatient. So I think the idea of moving
people west of the Mississippi is not a permanent solution,
although they often talked about the area
west of the Mississippi for a couple of decades as
being a permanent Indian barrier because from the Canadian
border down the Gulf of Mexico, this was all Indian Territory. But Indian people didn’t
buy that for a minute. In my treaty class,
we do a reenactment of a debate at [INAUDIBLE]
within the Cherokee Nation where the Cherokees are debating
what are we going to do. We’ve got this nutcase
in the White House. [LAUGHTER] This is 1835. [LAUGHTER] We’ve got this nutcase
in the White House who’s going to remove us. And we’ve got the
offer of a treaty. Do we take it or not? And it’s really interesting
to get people into that because most people assume,
whether Native or not, well, we would have said no. But of course,
historical reality is much more complicated. We’ll say no, but if it means my
wife and children being killed, I’m going to go. And if staying in Georgia
means annihilation, then we’ll move West and
rebuild, which is ultimately what the Cherokees do. But those Cherokees
at that time– and, again, getting
back to what I was talking about as a
historic using documents– this is a great thing to do
because by most of the Cherokee leadership are literate. They’re educated. They’re elite. And they’re debating this
not only among themselves but in the Cherokee
Phoenix, a newspaper written in Cherokee and in English. They’re debating it by
sending memorials to Congress. They’re giving lectures
in New England churches. This is part of the debate. But a fundamental
part of that question that they wrestle
with, OK, so we’ve had 17 treaties with
the United States. And they’ve broken every one. So now we make this
treaty with the promise that we can go to
Oklahoma or Arkansas and be there
forever undisturbed. Do we really think that this
is what’s going to happen? And so I think this
is a question not just for historians, but it was one
that Indian people at the time were wrestling with. And pretty much the
answer, of course, looking particularly
at Jackson was we know that’s not
likely to be the case. And of course,
given the realities of national growth
and expansion, it wasn’t going to
be the case either. And Jackson– Jackson is
not my favorite person. I don’t see him wrestling with
a national dilemma in the way that I see Washington doing it. If that answers your question? AUDIENCE: Yeah. PHILIP DELORIA:
Let’s go over here. AUDIENCE: This is a question. It’s a tendentious
question maybe. But the land acknowledgment
that you started with I think is a very admirable gesture, but
it strikes me as a bit timid. And I know your historians
and not policy people, but I’m interested
in the connection between that spirit of land
acknowledgment and immigration policy. And I’m interested
in, what to me, is the illegitimate, racial,
nationalist basis of Build the Wall. And so I also read
Russell Shorto’s book. And so I understand that
the name Town Destroyer came down to George Washington
through his great grandfather because John Washington was
a practitioner of murder and genocide 120 years
before George Washington. And that actually was
passed on by the natives through oral history. So the natives in Ohio
were aware of that when they met George Washington. And so if the foundation
of our country is in genocide, and
if that’s illegitimate by modern standards
of morality, does it follow that European racial
nationalism and immigration policy is not legitimate? And that a legitimate
immigration policy would be the opposite of Build the Wall. For instance, open borders
with immigrants– open borders, let’s say, for immigrants
with Native American blood like Mexicans, maybe? I mean what do you think? COLIN CALLOWAY: Well,
a couple of years ago– Phil, the National Congress
of the American Indian, I think it was, didn’t
they offer an amnesty for 2 billion illegal immigrants
who invaded the country? I think to get to the
spirit of your question that Native societies, I think
as a historian looking at them, have been impressive
and inclusive. Right? And many of them, if you look
at Iroquois, Haudenosaunee, or Comanche, they’re often
the true melting pots in that many of the people who
were members citizens, if you like, of those
nations began life somewhere else as someone else. I know that’s not at the
core of your question, but it does suggest that. PHILIP DELORIA: Yeah. I mean, I think I’ll just
say the point of a land acknowledgement I think is
to have a moment of memory and a moment of reverence
and to sort of ask everyone to think of that collectively. I understand there
are consequences that unfold from this. But whether one takes that as
the occasion to sort of then launch into a full consideration
of those consequences and not in a polemical way,
I think is actually wrong. And I think it’s against
the spirit of the land acknowledgement. But I agree with
you in the sense that there are real
consequences in the here and now to the histories that we were
talking about in the past. And I think these histories,
it is really important to understand the ways that
these histories actually do continue to reflect
through into the present and take us into the
moment and into the crisis that you’re talking about. So there are ways in which
these things do speak. And I think if we
had many hours, we could really get into it. But let’s go to
the next question. AUDIENCE: First of
all, I wanted to thank you very much for
providing us this framework to look back on our
history with more of a Native American slant. And you’ve almost given
me a perfect segue. For my question, it
has to do with it seems like the
British and the others coming here, the whole
colonial effort, the idea is that we know better. We have a better way of living. And we’re going to sort
of impose that on you. And it strikes me
that even today we live with that same thing,
except now we invade with McDonald’s and Taco Bells. And in our commercial
efforts, we don’t we don’t take your land but we’re
going to come to your country. And we’re going to
show you a better way to live economically. And I was wondering
if you could just talk a little more about
what you touched on about how our history informs
how things operate today? COLIN CALLOWAY: Well,
I think about it– a part of the kind of work that
I do and one of the reasons why I think that it’s important
to teach this to students and try and do it in a
careful way that does not fall into stereotyping,
because you can have very positive stereotypes as
well as negative, and sometimes romantic– is to look back at
early America at a time when there were societies
that were functioning and had functioned for thousands of
years on different philosophies and different
principles that were not all about accumulation,
and consumption, and conquest of nature,
and those kinds of things. So we probably heard– I’m sure Phil’s heard
the joke again– make America great again,
give it back to the Indians. And that’s somewhat what
that’s getting out, right? That for so long,
our history was informed by those early
Brits, English people, who came to this continent
and were actually, I think, more like blind
men feeling the elephant than really seeing
what was here. But they understood
it and wrote about it in terms of civilization
and savagery. And it’s taken us a long time
to sort of get away from that and to recognize the qualities
and the essential philosophies that indigenous societies
possessed and possess. And so I think when you talk
about McDonald’s, et cetera, this is more than just
being like facetious, because that is part
of this invasion. That Europeans arrive
here with not only plans with what to do with
the land, but also plans with how you will live
a life and structure society, et cetera. With the result,
of course, that’s devastating for Native
American society. Long after Washington’s gone,
you have a United States Indian Educational Policy
which involves wrenching thousands of Indian
children from their homes, taking them places like
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and educating them, which
actually, of course, means de-educating them. Perhaps with good intentions,
but with many cases horrendous consequences
and legacies that are still playing out. And I know that’s not a direct
answer to your question, but I’m a Dartmouth professor
so we can take anything and just sort of talk around it. AUDIENCE: No. It’s more really just
a platform for thought. It occurred to me that we
continue to live history. And a lot of the
way we behave today is very much informed by the way
we behaved 200, 300 years ago. COLIN CALLOWAY:
Well, and exactly, because the things I’m
talking about the assault on Indian land, look at
Standing Rock last year. And look at the plans to
establish this huge copper mine up in Alaska. Native people are still
confronted with assaults on their resources. We may not want the
land but we want what’s under the land or
the water or something. And that of course is going on
globally as we’re well aware. PHILIP DELORIA: Thank you. COLIN CALLOWAY: Thanks. AUDIENCE: Thank you. PHILIP DELORIA: Over here. AUDIENCE: My question has
to do with the early days of the Massachusetts
colony in the 17th century. It’s my understanding that
Native people were enslaved. Is that true? Could you comment on that? I read somewhere that
some prominent Puritan leader owned a couple of
slaves, Native slaves. And I was just wondering if
you could comment on that. How did that happen? COLIN CALLOWAY: Yeah. PHILIP DELORIA: Some of the
most interesting scholarship going on today concerns
the enslavement, both indigenous enslavement of
African and African descended peoples, and the enslavement
of indigenous peoples. And so I would recommend a
book called The Other Slavery which sort of details this. And one of the
really interesting– he breaks down a sort of
chart, a demographic chart. And one of the things that shows
up is between 1650 and 1700, this large blip
that is basically accounted for by
King Philip’s War and by other kinds of colonial
wars, which are essentially slave raiding wars, the
Yamasee War, these other wars. And the slaving of
indigenous people is quite interesting
because it’s different from African
slavery in the sense that women and children end
up being the primary focus. But Indian enslavement
throughout the Caribbean and through sort of flows of
slave trade from the center of the continent up
through the French, down along the seaboard,
there was a massive trade. Andrés Reséndez has
said, you know, look, this is somewhere between
3 million and 5 million indigenous people who are slaves
in relation to the 12 million that we usually use
hemispherically to talk about African slavery. So this is a quite significant
and quite substantial number. And there is slaving that
goes on among and by, and for, and engaged with
indigenous people all across the continent for
a long, long period of time. And in fact, one of the
most important moments is the moment between in
the middle 19th century during the settlement
of California where basically Californians
engage in what we can truly call a kind of a
death slavery, as it was in the early days
of the Caribbean. Right? Taking slaves and literally
working them to death. Capture your slaves in April. Work them and don’t feed
them through the summer. Let them die. Right? And then capture a whole
other bunch of people. I mean so this is a story that
is really, really important. I want to thank you for
raising the question. COLIN CALLOWAY: And in
answer to the question about Massachusetts
in New England. Absolutely. There were Indian slaves,
Indians take the slaves captive after Peqot War,
King Philip’s War. And they were shipped
to the Caribbean. There are some who stay here. And there are Indian slaves
who come here from elsewhere. You get, in Quebec,
you get Indian slaves. They’re all called
Pawnee, meaning Pawnee. That doesn’t mean they’re all
Pawnees, but that was such a– the eastern plains was a place
where other Indians raided for slaves. And they found their way
to Quebec, to Charleston, to Boston. This is– as Phil said– this
is something we’re only really just beginning to unravel it. And there’s a book
by Margaret Newell. It’s got Brethren in the title. I forget it. But it’s specifically about
Indian slavery in New England. Out in the last few years. And you find that. Sometimes they
may not be slaves, but they’re indentured children. And they’re in a household. But they’re essentially
domestic slaves. PHILIP DELORIA: I mean arguably
the most enslaved continent in the history of the world. So many different
forms of slavery, including indigenous slavery,
colonial forms of slavery, colonial indigenous hybrid forms
of slavery, a slave trade that is sort of everywhere. And we’re really just
beginning to understand it. AUDIENCE: Thank you. PHILIP DELORIA: Let’s
go to the next question. AUDIENCE: One of the first
things that Washington does is to bring Vermont
into the Union. And that story’s always told as
the Allen brothers and Governor Chittenden, they have land
titles under New Hampshire. They want to get the New
York land titles vacated. So they were able to manipulate
Washington to doing that. And then they agreed
to come into the Union. Vermont comes in
as the 14th state. And they’re dangling
joining British Canada to get that to happen. So that’s always the
story that’s told. Washington doesn’t
want the British to have Lake Champlain, et
cetera, so he agrees to this. But how much also
is that they felt the Allen and Chittenden
felt that the US would uphold the dispossession
of the Abenaki? Whereas that might have
been more difficult under the British. And that was also
part of the story. I was thinking about the
early part of the comments that you’re making. We always see that as
sort of power politics between the new United
States and Great Britain. But the Abenaki story is
not told in that aspect. COLIN CALLOWAY: So this is
an interesting story for me because I’m British. I live in Vermont. And I’ve written a
book on the Abenaki. PHILIP DELORIA: Whoa. COLIN CALLOWAY: So
looking at Vermont, there was a moment when it
almost saw sense, right? And it came back. But it didn’t happen. And in Vermont, the Allen
brothers, Ethan Allen, these are these are folk heroes. So if you’ve done
Abenaki history, you have to be a little careful. But I think– I mean it’s a very
complicated thing. The Holdeman Papers
where I worked finding a lot of these records
are full with this stuff. And it’s very complicated thing. And I think that the Allen
brothers are actually what my Scottish uncles
referred to as chancers. They were opportunists. But Abenaki land
is clearly there. And the Allen brothers,
one of the people like– there’s different ways
of dispossessing people. You can go to war with them. You can make treaties with them. You can make deeds
that steal their land. Or you can actually say you were
never there in the first place, right? It’s much easier to dispossess
people who were never there. And that, I think, as
I see it, is very often what the Allen brothers do. So they’re up on Lake Champlain. And there are Abenaki people
watching them, surveying, saying, what are you doing? This is our land. And when the Allen
brothers talk about it, they refer to these Abenakis
as St. Francis Indians which was the term of choice, I
think, to refer to all Abenakis because many
Abenakis from Vermont had migrated north
into the St. Lawrence and taken up residence at
what is now [INAUDIBLE],, originally a French mission
village called St. Francis. And so by referring
to these people, these Abenaki people
who are– as I see it– standing on their
own land, trying to defend their own
land as St. Francis, the Allen brothers are saying
you don’t even belong here. You belong in Canada
with the British. So it’s a complicated question. But if the core of
your question is were the Allen brothers
really after Abenaki land? It’s a very short answer. Absolutely. PHILIP DELORIA: So we have about
five minutes left, I think. And I’m saying
apologies in advance to folks who are at
the back of the line. So I think we maybe take
a couple more questions. We’ll go here. And then is that
Maria over there? Yeah, Maria. AUDIENCE: So this
question actually comes from our online audience. This comes from a
woman named Marcia whose family settled in
central Pennsylvania in 1737. She says her family
has many stories that have been passed down about
meeting Native Americans but she would like to
know what that atmosphere of those meetings would be
like in the early 1700s. COLIN CALLOWAY: It’s
actually the kind of thing I’m really interested in. Because for all of the
brutality of the history of this continent
and colonialism, people spend a lot
of time getting along and producing children. And so there are lots
of areas and arenas where violence is not
the go to response. And in particular, I’m
thinking in Pennsylvania and Delaware country. There’s a tradition
in Delaware society about these people
are peacemakers. They are intermediaries. They are diplomats. And so the initial
response to a stranger is not necessarily to kill them. And depending on
different societies, your response can be– so there are two kinds
of people in the world. There’s us and other people. And other people who
are not kin and family are dangerous and
potentially hostile. Right? So, OK, you could kill them. But more often I think an
initial response is, OK, so if these people are strangers
are dangerous as strangers, how can we make
them less dangerous? By making them human, by
bringing them into our society. And that can be done
through a ritual. It can be done
through a ceremony. It can be done through adoption. It can be done through
sexual intercourse. And so I think one of the
things that we often miss– by we, I mean me– as historians looking
back over history, the light is so good
on the bloodshed and the wars, et cetera. But there’s lots and
lots of places and times where people are not doing
that and they’re actually intermarrying and
welcoming each other and trying to reach across
these cultural gulfs and sometimes failing. Right? And that’s a huge part of
the tragedy when people are actually trying to do– if you like– the right
thing and getting it wrong. So I’ve done a lot of
work looking at captives. So if you walk into
an Indian vill– I remember years ago at the
Newberry Library, Helen Tanner saying to me, Colin. Phil, if you knew
Helen, you can imagine– you will never find an
Indian village with members of only one tribe in it. And what she was
talking about was how Indian societies embraced,
adopted, and welcomed other people and increased. By the 18th century,
those other people often included white people. And this is not just
me making this up. Benjamin Franklin
worried about this. Other people worried about it. Benjamin Franklin
said, wait a minute. We’re supposed to be
building a city on a hill. And we’re the model
of civilization. But a lot of our own
citizens given half a chance are going off to
live with Indians. And a lot of people who
have been taken captive, given the chance to come
home, say they’d rather not. And I don’t think you
do that in societies that are just violent. So there have got to be these
mechanisms for adoption. And part of captive
taking, when I look at captives that are
taking on the Connecticut River and taken up to
Abenaki country, you have the incredible violence
of a raid in which parents might be killed. And then the children would
be given little moccasins and carried on the shoulder
or pulled along on toboggans and treated with kindness as
part of the process getting them ready for adoption for
them to then become Abenaki. So you’ve got a cultural tussle
here that’s going both ways. And sometimes what Indian
people are doing I think is meeting outsiders,
and even Europeans, with kindness rather
than violence. PHILIP DELORIA: So let’s do–
we’ll do one last question. Maria, kind of–
and we’ll go quick. And we’ll try to wrap things up. AUDIENCE: Absolutely. I’ll try and keep
this really brief. I just wanted to express
a lot of gratitude for the conversation here today. It’s so important. I’m speaking as a history
professor here at UMass Boston. Some of my students are here. And my question actually
is in part inspired by them but also inspired by, I think,
the very careful attention you’ve all brought to the
importance of doing work to change the dominant
narratives that are pervasive in so many
different ways, right? Passed down through
the generations, pervasive in our
cultural institutions, pervasive in our
education system. And my question really
comes from an experience I have in the classroom
semester after semester when my students tell me that
they never got any of this at earlier points
in their education. And so we always
have to start class with a process of unlearning. And so my question
is really I’d love to hear your thoughts about
opportunities or points for intervention
that we might be able to pursue to
kind of start changing that narrative at earlier
points in the education system. JULIA A KING: I can– PHILIP DELORIA: Please. JULIA A KING: I mean I think
that’s the $64,000 question. There’s a lot of parts
that are involved in doing that, beginning
with the educational system. And the way I see the groups,
the tribes, that I work with do it is a constant
raising awareness. I mean they’re going out. And then I do my part. As an archeologist, they
ask me to do certain things or provide information. And I try to do that. But I almost feel like it’s
one school child at a time. And so I do think it
is very challenging. I will tell you in Virginia,
I have a colleague, Martin Galvan he’s
written about what’s called strategic essentialism. And in this essay, he writes
about how the Virginia groups, the Virginia tribes– which
are actually now federally recognized or many of them are– how they sort of take
those dominant narratives and try to derive
authority from them and then flip the narrative. So they get in that way. So I know we don’t
have much time but that may be a
way to try to get people’s attention with that. COLIN CALLOWAY: I
think that I mean it is the $64,000 question. And I get that
question or concern not only from white
students from Connecticut but from Native American
students from Oklahoma. They’ve got Indian symbols
on their license plates but they’re not teaching
this in schools apparently. And I agree with all
of these strategies. But at some point,
it’s political because I’ve done
a lot of workshop with teachers over the years,
high school, middle school, et cetera, from all
over the country. And they are hungry
for this information because their students are
hungry for the information. But very often, at the
end people have said, yeah, this is all
great, professor, but you’re not
setting up the tests by which we are judged on how
our students are performing. And so I think this
is something where there has to come some
leadership from the top as well so that those teachers
that I see, if you like, struggling in the trenches
coming hungry for stuff that they can use in a unit in
class, but always, if you like, looking over their shoulder. All right? I can talk about the Iroquois
Confederacy and the Trail of Tears, et cetera, but
I know that my students are going to be tested. And I don’t want
them to be found wanting on these other things
that educational policy makers, if you like,
say we have to have. So, yeah, I don’t have
a quick answer for it. Obviously, I don’t have
a quick answer for it. I haven’t been able
to do it in 25 years. But I think this is
what we’re dealing with. PHILIP DELORIA: And you know
as a former K-12 educator, I can say I was
handed a curriculum. I was given that
curriculum to teach. So many curricula
have been developed over the years, so many teacher
training kinds of things. I think the pressure,
my sympathies are always with
classroom teachers on the very real
challenges that they face in the classroom
around this stuff. At the same time, I
also recognize the ways in watching my own children
pass through third grade, when you got it, sixth grade
when you kind of got it, is that teachers also tend
to teach their own memories. And the third
grade teacher tends to teach what that teacher
actually remembered being taught as a third grader. It’s amazing to me the
sort of reproduction that happens there, the power
of cultural reproduction. And intervening in that is
a really hard thing to do, particularly, you
know as Colin has said and Julia said, around the
restrictions that actually appear in the classroom. This is a major,
major challenge to us. And I think if I might
just say a few things by way of wrapping up. I began by saying, look,
Indian people make up 1.5%. We deserve more
of the narrative. I think this is really true. But we struggle to get
1.5% of the narrative. And until we can get
up to 10% or 15% or 20% and realize that the United
States is fundamentally about– not just slavery, because that
is the important place where schools actually have
intervened but also about Native American
history and the ways that this country is
built on a continent’s worth of native land. I think this is a struggle
we have to continue to do. We do it, of course, from
a certain perspective. As academics, we find ourselves
caught up in mission creep as we try to get
into public schools. So this is hard. It’s a hard challenge
and a hard problem. COLIN CALLOWAY: And it
is hard for teachers because if you’re
teaching American history with due attention to, say,
Native American history and slavery in a country
where that dominant narrative that you’re talking about
is so strong, and so compelling, and so satisfying
for so many people, that can be very uncomfortable. People can– this
can be unAmerican. With people like me, that’s
not a particular worry, but for a lot of people
this is a hard thing. PHILIP DELORIA:
So I think what we can agree upon is that the
work that’s happening here with our guests is
contributing to the kind of ongoing questioning
of these narratives. And I hope you’ll
join me in thank them. [APPLAUSE]

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