“The American Revolution in Indian Country” by Colin Calloway
Colin Calloway’s book The American Revolution in Indian Country looks at a wide range of Indians living in North America during the revolutionary war. Calloway covers the Indian experiences of eight Indian communities and how they struggle to keep their heritage amongst the war torn landscape of North America. Calloway further exemplifies how the American Revolution not only pitted Indians against Europeans (and vice versa), but how the Revolution forced Indians to fight amongst themselves. To do so, Calloway sorted through various British, American, Spanish and Canadian records to tell his story. This story, unlike previous writings on the subject, is not centered on how or why Indians participated as allies or enemies to the colonialist. Rather, it focuses on what decisions each of the eight different groups made to try to keep their autonomy.
Calloway argues that American Indian culture is a total way of life, not just a shallow set of customs and dress. Yet, the American Indian cultural system is ever changing because of the different Indian groups adaptation to the environment as well as the influence of other cultures. This fortifies why Calloway studied eight individual groups instead of generalizing all Indians as one group. Between the eight American Indian groups, there is too much diversity that it is impossible to generalize. Each group has different ways of thinking, beliefs, values, customs, etc. With these various influences shaping each group, they will go about keeping their independence differently.
... Adams, 3: 199. Colin G. Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country: Crisis and Diversity in Native American Communities (New York: Cambridge ... of Virginia, 1989). Lovebird, T. The Coming of the American Revolution, trans. R. R.Palmer (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1947), 205. ... in other communities, whether a home state or a group based on shared interests, ethnicity, occupation, or gender, ...
The eight groups that Calloway focused his attention on varied between one another. The eight Indian communities that Calloway covers are the Odanek, Niagara, Stockbridge, Oquaga, Maquachake, Chota, Tchoukafala and the Cuscowilla. All eight of these groups went about maintaining their identity different than the others during the American Revolution. These differences are summarized by three choices- siding with the British or Colonialist or staying neutral. Whatever side they picked (or did not pick by staying neutral) they all had the same end result. For that each group lost lands to Europeans. What is most overlooked, in Calloway’s opinion, is not the fact of who won or loss. Rather that all eight of these groups were mimicking their colonial counterparts by fighting for their freedom. Yet, this ideal of freedom was overlooked once the Colonialist had won the war. Even those who fought beside the Colonialists were not spared from their land-hungry ways
The struggle to remain independent is further exemplified by Calloway in his research showing the lengths Indians would go to too remain intact. Examples are given for all eight groups. The Odaneks remained neutral to protect their autonomy. The Stockbridge Indians fought with the Colonialist in hopes of their win, which meant they too would win in their personal struggle to keep their culture intact. The Oquaga tribe sided with the British. The Niagara Indians were different than the previously mentioned groups. They were refugees in their own land, living off British support. Yet, they did not choose a side and stayed neutral. The same can be said for the Maquachakees. They remained neutral in the Ohio River Valley. The Chotas, despite being neutral in the American Revolution, were affected by the war. The affect of the American Revolution was a civil war between other Cherokees in the region who sought power. The Chotas tried to remain independent of others. Yet, by remaining independent, they had to fight other Indian groups for the resources that were once supplied by the British and Americans that were cut off during the Revolution. The same as the Chotas can be said for the Tchoukafala Indians. They were only interested in themselves, and played each country to their benefit. However, by playing both sides, they lost any trust to the winner. Cuscowilla Indians in the Florida region too were caught up in the war. Although it appears that they fought alongside the British against the Colonialist, they did not do so out of allegiance. They fought the raiding southern Colonialist who sought the British living in the area. They did this to protect their own lands and being.
In this book, Taylor, and exceptional history writer, is trying to convey numerous facts that the community is suppose to comprehend. By utilizing these facts, one can broaden its knowledge on past historical events. A historical event that relates to the topic would include the Norse, because they were technologically more advance than most countries at that time and proceeded to set the trend ...
Calloway argues that the fighting done by the above eight groups is a direct result of where they lived. Those who stayed neutral did so because they lived in an area where they could, or were forced to due to being in the middle of both British and American forces. On the other hand, those who lived in the areas that were heavily populated by either the British or Colonial armies had to side with each respected side in hope of keeping their autonomy. Despite staying neutral, or picking sides, all eight groups lost out. They all lost their independence when the Americans had won the war and ventured out to settle on new lands.
In conclusion, Calloway does defend his thesis that the American Revolution did affect the Indians, whether or not they actually fought in the war. Calloway supports this by showing that even those Indians who did not fight in the war against a European-descent enemy were forced to fight with other Indian groups for resources that were once supplied to them via Europeans. Calloway supports this by searching thru various European records. Compared to other books on Indians during the revolution, Calloway does not try to portray them as either for or against the Colonialists. Rather, he shows how they tried to maintain their independence based on what was in the best interest for each group. Calloway does not leave any loose ends in describing why each group chose their path. Compared to other Revolutionary literature, this book is similar to Robert Gross’s The Minute Men and Their World. For that Calloway, like Gross, uses a case study method. By this, I mean he looks at the community as a whole and the surrounding events and how these events influence the community’s decision. This is why I highly recommend this book. It is straightforward and to the point. It answers all the questions leaving nothing unaccounted for.
When examining the effects of American Indians on European exploration and early colonialism, it is difficult to overstate its importance. It is believed that the first human in the Americas can be dated to 30,000 – 15,000 B.C. In the thousands of years that elapsed between the native settlement of North America and the arrival of the Europeans in the fifteenth century, the Indian people developed ...