Lecture 11:
The Many Worlds of Indian Country

Suggestions for Further Reading:

Frederick E. Hoxie, ed., The Oxford Handbook of American Indian History (2016): best recent overview of scholarly literature on this subject.

Philip J. Deloria & Neal Salisbury, eds., A Companion to North American Indian History (2002): older but still excellent review of the scholarly literature on Indian history up through 2002.

Harold E. Driver and William C. Massey, "Comparative Studies of North American Indians," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 47: 2 (1957), pp. 165-456: this classic work includes an extraordinary compilation of maps that attempt to show the geographical distribution of a great many aspects of Native American life in North America. It's available online via JSTOR at http://www.jstor.org/stable/1005714, but you'll need to access it through the University Library website to download it.

Theda Perdue & Michael D. Green, North American Indians: A Very Short Introduction (2010): good short introduction to this topic.

Anton Treuer, Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask (2012): organized as a series of frequently asked questions about Indians and Indian Country.

Smithsonian Institution, Handbook of North American Indians: vast multi-volume encyclopedia, still incomplete, that is a standard reference work on this subject. It is described in detail on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handbook_of_North_American_Indians

Roger L. Nichols, Indians in the United States and Canada: A Comparative History (1998): best available one-volume synthesis comparing the history of native peoples and governmental policies in Canada and the United States.

Keith H. Basso, Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache (1996). (fascinating anthropological study of place, landscape, and place naming practices for one native group)

Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., The White Man's Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present (1978). (classic study of Euroamerican depictions of Indians)

G. Malcolm Lewis, "Maps, Mapmaking, and Map Use by Native North Americans," in David Woodward & G. Malcolm Lewis, The History of Cartography, Volume Two, Book Three: Cartography in the Traditional African, American, Arctic, Australian, and Pacific Societies (1998). excellent overview of Native American mapping techniques, available online at http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/HOC/HOC_V2_B3/HOC_VOLUME2_Book3_chapter4.pdf

Patty Loew, Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal (2nd ed., 2013): best one-volume history of native peoples in Wisconsin.

William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (1983): a history of landscape transformation in colonial New England as English colonists gained control of Indian lands.


The midterm exam is a week from today in lecture. It is mainly a bluebook essay, and a 10-point map labeling exercise. You'll have a choice of multiple elements to label on the map, and you'll have a choice between one of three essay questions.

There is a review session on Monday night at 7pm in this lecture hall. If you cannot make the review session, please find someone to borrow notes from. Also in section this week, we'll bring in a sample exam essay question and we'll talk in section about strategies for approaching an essay question in this class.

Group study helps enormously for this type of exam. Remember that any of you can email out to your section listserv to coordinate group studying.

I. Introductions: Painting Indian Country

Today's lecture is about a place called "Indian Country," which is a phrase used by native peoples across the U.S. to describe places in the United State that are linked with, controlled by, or cultural expressions of the complicated and changing boundaries of physical places the native peoples inhabit. Because this course is historical and geographical in its focus, and particularly focused on how we can periodize different aspects of changes to the American landscape, this lecture is more about the shifting boundaries of and relationships of the United States to Indian Country over time than it is about changing types of native cultures. It is inevitable that we'll come at this topic of shifting boundaries from a variety of ways.

We'll start in a place we've started before: the area of the Fox River and the Wisconsin River in Portage, Wisconsin where the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet passed on their journey towards "discovering" the Mississippi River. The encounter between Marquette & Joliet and native peoples in 1673 has been imagined countless times by Euroamerican artists, as we saw in the "Telling Tales on Campus" lecture. Bear in mind always that images of "first encounters" are inherently mythic, as were images of the American frontier: inevitably imposing not just what artists were seeing, but the histories and the prophecies they wished to see in that place. One of the imaginaries at work in so many images of "first encounters" is the myth of a "vanishing race."" However rich and diverse the lifeways of the Native peoples, Euroamericans in "first encounter" images are typically depicted as an approaching future, and native peoples as part of a vanishing past.

See, for example, samples of Karl Bodmer's paintings on the Great Plains:

Alfred Jacob Miller's paintings of Indians and fur traders from the same period:

and later romantic landscape paintings by Albert Bierstadt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Bierstadt
especially ones that include native peoples in the foreground of the scene, as in "The Rocky Mountains—Lander's Peak," 1863, visible on this Wikipedia page.

All of these romantic painters show native peoples as part of an unsullied wilderness, which has the effect of placing those native peoples in the past. We can particularly see this in Herman Schuyler's "The First Train" (1860),
http://ww3.hdnux.com/photos/10/25/21/2184278/5/920x920.jpg which implies that the peoples depicted are seeing the beginning of their own end, ushered in by the train. The painting implies: soon enough these people, like that place, are doomed to vanish—artifacts of a world that is nearly gone, a vanished America, and a race of native people vanishing with it. So by the middle of the 19th century, we see the mass production of nostalgic images that aren't depictions of actual native peoples, but romantic, hazy, sentimental views of a vanished world when men were men, Indians were Indians, heroes were heroes … a world lost, captured in images and put on sale.

This means that whenever you see Euroamerican images of native people, you should think about the assumptions embedded in these images about where native peoples belong in history. The native peoples depicted in the images we've just looked at are assumed to be gone, or nearly so. Among the most profound distortions that typically characterize Indian Country in the United States is that it is past. I want to make sure you understand Indian Country is right now, today, in the present. You live in Indian Country. It is right here. It has never vanished, and native peoples remain as vibrant a presence in the United States today as they were in the past. If you think of landscape as a palimpsest, you can appreciate that Indian Country is everywhere, and that learning to see it is an obligation of citizenship for those us living in the United States today.

Here's the painter George Catlin again, who we've seen before.
This is his famous portrait of Wi-jun-jon, Pigeon's Egg Head (The Light) Going To and Returning From Washington" (1837-39):
This image is indicative of two key narratives that Euroamerican art has often wanted to tell about native peoples: the "noble savage" (sometimes presented in counterpoint with the "violent savage") and the "transformed Indian" (transformed into a "modern American" like "everyone else").

Questions raised by this painting will recur throughout this lecture: Where do Indians fit in the modern world? What are the different ways Indian Country has expressed itself over time in the American landscape, and what can we learn about the United States by thinking about its relationships with the original inhabitants of this continent?

Before we start trying to answer these questions, I want to take a minute to consider the vocabulary I'll be using in this lecture:

  • The word "Indian" originated from Christopher Columbus's mistaken belief that he'd landed in the East Indies.
  • For most speakers of English today, the words most typically applied to native peoples in the lower 48 states of the U.S. have been "Indians," "American Indians," and "Native Americans." The latter term was promoted as being preferable to "American Indian," largely by the federal government in the 1970s. Ironically, the term "Native Americans" has often been more popular among non-Indians, many of whom continue to prefer American Indian. The term "indigenous people" is widely used around the world today by those who are active in asserting and defending the rights of indigenous peoples, but this phrase has a much shallower history behind it. In addition to their own tribal name—which is always preferred when referring to a particular group—we'll follow cues from native peoples themselves and use the terms "Indians" or "American Indians" when not referring to a particular tribe, though I'll also sometimes refer to "Native Americans" as well. All these terms occur regularly in Indian Country.
  • In Alaska, the preferred term is "Alaskan Natives" when not referring to a particular group. In Hawai'i, it is "Native Hawaiians." In Canada, the preferred term since the 1980s is "First Nations."
  • One story I will not try to tell in this lecture but will gesture at is the effort by the U.S. government to suppress the tribal identities of native peoples on the theory that tribal identity was a form of primitivism that was keeping native peoples from fully assimilating into American culture on Euroamerican terms. Examples of such public policies were the forced removal of native children from their parents in an effort to "Americanize" them in boarding schools, and the legal breaking up of tribal lands (most notoriously with the Dawes Act of 1887) so as to treat Indians as individual citizens rather than as members of a tribe.
  • The word "Indian" emerged in the 20th century as a tool for building a shared identity across tribes. We see the emergence of a pan-Indian movement in the early decades of the twentieth century that sought to use shared "Indianness" as a way of claiming power in the face of oppression at the hands of U.S. federal and state governments.
  • There's one more challenge I should mention. Take the example of Navajo Country in the southwestern United States. The Navajos' word for themselves is Diné, meaning "the people," but that is not the name Euroamericans typically used to describe them in historical records. Linguistic history suggests that the original word for Navajo comes from the 16th-century Spanish Apaches de Navajó, "(Apaches from) Navajo," from the Tewa Puebloan word navahu, "fields adjoining an arroyo (ravine)," referring to the Diné agricultural practice of planting their fields along streams. Another theory is that "Navajo" comes from the Zuni word for "enemy." So this is a story that we see time and again: even tribal names—and notice that the word and concept of a "tribe" is itself an import from Europe—are not always the names that groups originally used for themselves. The Nez Perce Indians of the Pacific Northwest got their name from the description by French-Canadian traders of their pierced noses (nez percé), but they themselves use the word Nimíipuu to name themselves. As with the Diné, it too means "the people." All of this illustrates what we've already seen before in this class: naming is complicated, and is the product of long, complicated colonial history.

Notice, too: the impulse to draw a map and place people and boundaries on that map carries an implicit assumption about the primacy of the nation-state. But many native groups are much more mobile than is easily reflected on a map, and boundaries between territories have historicaly been much more porous—particularly related to hunting territory—than a map can indicate.

II. Mapping Indian Country

Start with Aaron Carapella's map which seeks to depict native groups in North America using their names for themselves and their ancestral homelands:

Here's a classic early native map from the southeastern United States:

Contrast it with this famous map of Indian Country produced by American Automobile Association (originally published by the Automobile Club of Southern California). It focuses on the Four Corners region of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Nevada.

The contrast between these two maps raises a question and a puzzle: what are different ways of making maps of Indian country? How do we make and draw generalizations about peoples? All maps must choose to suppress some information; so how do we choose what information to emphasize and what information to suppress when mapping Indian Country in the United States?

One way to map Indian Country is to try mapping language families. There were over 200 languages spoken in the Americas when Columbus made landfall in North America. Starting in the 19th century, linguists and enthnographers and anthropologists tried to map these languages by assigning to language families.

An early example of this approach was John Wesley Powell's 1891 "Linguistic Stocks of American Indians North of Mexico":
http://dcc.newberry.org/items/linguistic-stocks-of-american-indians-north-of-mexico Notice that there are always questions about how to group language families--and these language "families" are an artifact of the intellectual histories of linguistics and anthropology; the people who spoke these various languages probably almost certainly would not have depicted them in this way. If you take the premise that people speaking similar languages have a common line of descent or a common line of history conquest, this map tells us that (for instance) in the eastern U.S. there were Algonqian-speaking peoples and Iroquoian-speaking peoples; Siouan speakers on the Great Plains; Puebloan peoples in the vicinity of the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico; and Navajo and Apache peoples in the Southwest who shared similar languages with Athapaskan-speaking groups in Canada and Alaska.

So one way to map native peoples is to ask "What is their language family?" A more recent version of this kind of map can be found on Wikipedia:

Another way to group native peoples is to ask "What was their ecological reality?" Ecology doesn't determine the way of life of any given human group, but it certainly helps shape the choices people make about how to live given the tools and technologies available to them. So we can look at the ecologies of different physiographic provinces of North America and map the similiar lifestyles of native peoples who had adapted themselves to living in those regions: Eastern Woodlands, grasslands of the Great Plains and Canadian prairie provinces, the desert Southwest, the California river valleys, and the northern tundra. Classic examples of maps that adopts this approach can be found here:
https://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/national_atlas_1970/ca000097_large.jpg https://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/national_atlas_1970/ca000098_large.jpg

Another way to group native peoples is by asking "What are their main foods and what strategies do they use for acquiring those foods?" Crucially, we have corn/squash/bean horticulture that migrated northwards out of Mexico, reaching New England by the 13th century. Hunting and gathering dominated in a huge swath of the interior of North America. Along the coasts, we see fishing. So radically different life ways are shaped by geography or physiographic provinces. There's a potential problem with this, because it can seem to imply that native peoples are close to nature, and part of a disappearing natural world. So bear in mind the fallacy of assuming that native peoples lived the way they did because they were "close to nature:" bison and the tools and tactics used to hunt them are not "natural," but profoundly human technologies with complex cultural histories.

An extraordinary collection of maps that seeks to depict the diets and myriad other lifeways of American Indian groups is Driver and Massey's "Comparative Studies of North American Indians," listed in the Suggested Readings at the top of these notes. Driver and Massey's vast collection of maps can be downloaded through the University Library's web portal, and is well worth the extra effort to do so.

Here's a classic 1585 painting by John White of Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke Colony depicting the Algonkian village of Secotan:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:North_carolina_algonkin-dorf.jpg For more of White's paintings, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_White_(colonist_and_artist)

We see from these paintings that native peoples are cultivating crops. We also see that these are people whose lifeways cycle seasonally. Native peoples in the eastern and southwest U.S. used the corn-bean-squash combination to sustain themselves.

So now let's go out to the Plains, which we've already seen through the eyes of Karl Bodmer. Both the Mandans—a sedentary group, living in earthen lodges—and the Siouan-speaking peoples live there. The Siouan-speaking Lakota and Dakota were not trying to raise crops but were instead hunting bison, especially as the horse moved north in the 16th and 17th century. Horses became so organic to the Great Plains, despite the fact that the horse was a European reimport, that we almost forget that this animal is not native to the Plains. Bodmer gives us many images of material culture, and almost all of those images show objects made from bison and bird parts.

Finally, Southwest: here is probably one of the most striking landscapes. Go to the quintessential Rio Grande valley, Northern New Mexico and Arizona. Southwesterns peoples include the Puebloan peoples of the Rio Grande valley, the Navajos, and the Apaches.

Just as the horse is one of the more important animals of the Great Plains, sheep are a hugely important part of Navajo life, where weaving wool is vital to the culture. Yet notice that the sheep is also a European import, revealing the very complicated history of confluence and exchange of culture that we miss when we view "first encounter" imagery with uncritical eyes.

Finally: the Northwest coastal peoples, who lived on the extraodinary abundance of proteins and calories that were seasonal salmon runs. They captured salmon using very elaborate netting and fishing technologies, as well as technologies for preserving food, woodworking technologies for boats, and constructing some of the largest wooden structures in Native North America.

So I show you this map because it gives you pretty good systems of patterns of language, material culture, economic livelihood to give us insights into why all the different residents of Indian Country chose to live the way they did. http://clic.cengage.com/uploads/18028048199abfe37b8e3b131d2beea5_w_9152.gif If by chance this link is broken, try Googling "Indian culture areas North America" for similar maps.

Here's another pair of maps from the 1970 National Atlas (I've offered these links to you already in the earlier discussion of language families) in which overlaying the linguistic families are overlaid on geograpical regions. What are different stories can you tell about Indian Country from these maps? https://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/national_atlas_1970/ca000097_large.jpg https://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/national_atlas_1970/ca000098_large.jpg

Another approach is to think archaeologically. Whether you accept the premise of the migrations over a land bridge at the Bering Straits during the last ice age as the route whereby native peoples from Asia to present-day Alaska, Canada, and the rest of the Americas, here are some crucial important benchmark places and landscapes of ancient Indian Country.

In the discussion that follows, if you're interested in seeing images or maps of the kind I showed in lecture, your best bet is to open up a web browser to Wikipedia and search the names of peoples and places listed below. Terms like Hohokam, Anasazi, Hohokam, Chaco Canyon, etc., will all yield large, well-illustrated entries that will enhance your understanding of these notes even if you only glance at the pictures and maps. Start here and just search for any other term that strikes your fancy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaco_Culture_National_Historical_Park as well as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pueblo_Bonito, the largest and most impressive structure at Chaco Canyon. I've supplied a few Wikipedia links below, but you shouldn't limit yourself to those if any of these sites or topics interest you.

About 500 B.C.E. to 13th or 14the century C.E.: the Hohokam and the Anasazi peoples produced important earthworks and architecture made out of adobe that lasted for centuries. The Hohokam built hundreds of miles of irrigation channels that lasted for centuries before the water sources dried or salted up in the area south of Phoenix today. The Anasazi ruins in Chaco Canyon in northwest New Mexico show us that it clearly was an urban settlement at the center of a very large trade network that reached out for hundred of miles. This nascent urban world has left behind some of the most striking remains we can point to today. At Mesa Verde, the ancestors of the modern-day Puebloan people built stunning defensive structures into the walls of the cliffs.

The Hopi villages located on a series of mesas have been occupied at their present sites since the 10th century, taking them all the way back to Anasazi time and making them the oldest continuously occupied sites in North America. These kinds of structures are typical of the Puebloan peoples in general.

The other places to find interesting artifacts and evidence of deep time is much closer to Wisconsin. There are mounds in the Mississippi Valley that go back 2300 years. The best-known example is Cahokia, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. The most striking structure at Cahokia is Monk's Mound, dating back more than a thousand years. It is the largest human earth structure made in precolonial times anywhere north of the Rio Grande, twice the height of this room, more than the length of a football field, made entirely by hand. The area is now operated by the State of Illinois as a state park.

Here in Wisconsin the only easily visited Mississippian mounds are at Aztalan:

Then there are the effigy mounds, which post-date the more pyramid-like structures of the Mississippian period:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effigy_mound Perhaps the most striking of all effigy mounds is in southern Ohio, the Serpent Mound. Sometimes mounds were a site of human burial, sometimes as ritual gathering places. This campus, Picnic Point, the UW Arboretum, the Mendota Mental Health Institute on the north side of Lake Mendota, all have some of the most striking effigy mounds in the United States. The City of Madison makes available a guide for exploring them:
https://www.cityofmadison.com/planning/landmark/NativeAmMounds.pdf Also worth visiting is Effigy Mounds National Historic Site on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien:

III. More Recent Indian Country: Political Conflict and Trade

So that's the map of the past of Indian Country in the deep past. Now we'll turn to less deep time, based on people where they originally were roughly at the time of first encounters with Europeans.

Consider this map of cessions of tribal lands to the United States over time: http://imgur.com/Pv1mYp7
If this link is broken, try this one:

One of the ways that the history of Indian Country can be described is via the evolution of U.S. federal policy, because the changing stance of the federal government towards native peoples was the one thing the tribes all had in common: their loss of land, their legal oppression, their status as tribal governments (what the early Supreme Court Justice John Marshall famously described as "domestic dependent nations") within the U.S. federal system. This is can be a problematic way to tell the story of many different peoples because of the ways it flattens their differences and particular cultural identities--yet it does convey powerful shared features of their past in the United States. Notice what a declension story I've just told, a story of political disempowerment—if you accept only this story you will all too easily reify the story of a vanishing race. I'll keep repeating: Indians have never vanished. Native people still inhabit the modern United States, and always will.

Instead, we can make this a fractal story. Each land cession is a tiny version of a larger story. That story, treaty by treaty, works its way across the U.S. until Ulysses S. Grant's administration decided that native peoples were unfit to sign treaties. This means that most treaties with native peoples predate 1869. These cession processes often entailed violence at one stage or another, with a lot of blood being shed along the way, both to compel the signing of treaties and to corral native peoples onto reservations after the signing of treaties.

One more thread of stories are the processes of trade that we'll talk about on Monday. Via trade, different groups came into conflict with each other, not just with Europeans, generating a set of migrations out of New York and eastern Canada into the Middle West. So one of the stories of the Middle West is a story of military conflict or U.S. government policy. Under the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the U.S. government made a policy of moving all Indians west of the Mississippi to land that was then described as permanent "Indian Territory." In what we today call the Trail of Tears, Indians were forced to migrate, at point of gun, to present-day Oklahoma. The "Five Civilized Tribes" from the American Southeast who were moved to Indian Territory had actually adopted the political economy—including slave-owning—of southern U.S. culture...but that didn't prevent their forcible removal from lands sought by whites in places like Georgia and Tennessee.

I want to end with Wisconsin, because it is a good place to exemplify the closing and opening themes of this lecture. Wisconsin is in some ways more like a western state than an eastern one in its relationship to native peoples: it has more reservations and more tribal governments than any other state east of the Mississippi. Wisconsin is quite emphatically a part of Indian Country. Wisconsin exemplifies everything we've talked about in this lecture.

There are many native peoples who today live on reservations...but also a very large number who do not live on reservations. At the end of the 18th century, the Oneidas and the Potawatomis were just arriving in what would become Wisconsin, joining the earlier migrations of the Ojibwas into northern Wisconsin. The Ojibwas were forced to sign treaties in the 1840s and 1850s but retained hunting and fishing rights. The Menominees signed treaties in the 1820s through 1840s. The Black Hawk War of 1832—Black Hawk was a Sauk Indian—hastened the in-migration of Euroamericans. The Stockbridge-Muncie Indians originating as a "praying village" in New England of Indians who had converted to Christianity but who were also forced to migrate to Wisconsin. Most striking of all, Ho-Chunk Indians (known to whites in the 19th century as Winnebagos) were moved mainly to a reservation in Nebraska that still exists today, but many soon moved back to Wisconsin. There are large population centers of Ho-Chunk peoples between the Wisconsin Dells and Black River Falls.

As always, Wikipedia will give you more information about these Wisconsin tribes, along with links to the tribes' own websites and other information:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ojibwe (complex because there are many Objibwa bands, each of which has its own reservation)

For other Wikipedia pages relevant to Wisconsin tribes, see

Here is a map of Indian Country from one point of view: the locations of Indian reservations and tribal governments.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bia-map-indian-reservations-usa.png These tribal governments have rights that extend beyond the bounds of the reservations. In fact, the majority of Indians live off reservations today. Los Angeles is among the most populous centers of native peoples in the United States, as demonstrated by this map from the 1970 National Atlas:

What are takeaways from this lecture? That Indian Country is complicated, a "movable feast": a place called into being whenever Indian peoples gather, express their history, celebrate their shared identity and their common struggles with the United States. If you've never been to a pow-wow, I urge you to do so. They're held in numerous places and times here in Wisconsin, including right here in Madison. You may feel surprised by how welcome you'll feel in these gatherings where the native peoples of the United States come together to celebrate their shared heritage and traditions. Go visit Indian Country. It is very much a part of your world.