- The Oxford Handbook of American Indian History
- America in 1492
- European Invasions and Early Settlement, 1500–1680
- Living in a Reordered World, 1680–1763
- The Age of Imperial Expansion, 1763–1821
- US Expansion and Its Consequences, 1815–1890
- Surviving in the Twentieth Century, 1890–1960
- The Indian Renaissance, 1960–2000: Stumbling to Victory, or Anecdotes of Persistence?
- Contemporary History: Native America in the Twenty-First Century
- The Great Lakes
- The Southwest
- The Plains
- The Pacific Northwest
- The South
- The Atlantic Northeast
- Indian Territory and Oklahoma
- The Great Basin
- Gender, Sexuality, and Family History: Naynaabeak’s Fishing Net
- Population, Health, and Public Welfare
- Native American Expressive Arts
- Collectors and Museums: From Cabinets of Curiosities to Indigenous Cultural Centers
- Indians in the Marketplace
- Intellectual History
- Treaties and Treaty Making
- Urban Native Histories
- American Indians in Popular Culture
- American Indians in World History
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines the nature of Native American societies immediately prior to the advent of sustained contacts with Europeans in the late fifteenth century. Touching on the broad issues of social organization, politics, trade, religion, and identity, the chapter provides a general framework for understanding the uniqueness of indigenous Native American cultures. The precontact Native cultures of North America were far more diverse and complex than any of the theories archaeologists have previously devised to understand them. In addition to the knowledge gained from ever new archaeological investigations of precontact sites in North America, there is ample evidence that an emphasis on scholarly engagement with descendant communities holds the potential to reveal even more about pre- and postcontact Native American experiences.
Cameron Wesson is the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Anthropology and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. His research focuses on Native American responses to European contact and colonization, with particular interest in the American Southeast. He is the author of Households and Hegemony (2008) and co-editor (with Mark Rees) of Between Contacts and Colonies (2002).
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