tv Firearms Trade and Power in Native North America CSPAN February 11, 2017 8:45am-10:01am EST
70s. talk about is to not the counter culture as a iconic e or a series of events or a celebrity figure but s a project, as a way in which a group of people tried to do something in real time. > for our complete american istory tv schedule go to cspan.org. >> next on american history tv, aughtry museum of the american withest in los angeles titled trade ion s power in native norring america.
one hour 15 minutes. >> one note of introduction. since we are here at a museum, which is a slightly different venue than a library or university, i want to put in your mind couple of objects that you can see when you go to the gallery's today. downstairs, in the gallery, on the west side of the museum, f you go down stairs and turn right, there is a room with a taxidermy bison in that room. if you look to the left of the bison, there are a couple cases. one of them is a case of artifacts related to the battle of the little bighorn. inside that case, there isa a firearm, a springfield, acquired lacada fighter named little moon.
you can look at that object and contemplate how it changed hands, the travels that it took prior to that and the ways that might help us think differently about history in then the west. coincidentally, in the west, there is a small macabre basket. the washington olympic peninsula made of seaweed and one work of art. maybe after this talk, you will be able to look at those objects differently. maybe the objects will help you reflect on the talk differently. i hope so. i think i'm going to let you -- i was going to say a little something about trends in historiography, and about how different authors have been rethinking this, but i think it will come up in conversation. i will skip that part. it is part of a new wave of history that thinks about native geopolitics differently.
maybe that kind of conversation might come up. but in a lot of other histories, violence is a big part of how we rethink. there is violence in these histories, but trade is the theme of today's talk. thinking about trade is another way that different native nations and outsiders have boundaries that lay claims to territory. i will introduce one of our speakers. he is kind of a moderator today, but also a participant. zapia, is the chair here at whittier college. his work explores the intersection of continental, trade networks, food pathways, and more across the west. his newest book "traders and raiders," tells the story of the
lower colorado river, just a few hours east of here. but a long time ago. he is now working on a book titled froude frontiers and borderland ecologies in early america which explores the evolution of native and non-native food systems and north america. he is currently the visiting research scholar at ucla's institute for american cultures. before whittier he served as the director of the garden organization which focused on ecological literacy, in addition a number of other public history and art projects. outll let him introduce our of town guests. thank you. and i look forward to this conversation. [applause] >> hey, everybody. first, i want to say what an to be on stage with these guys. i really love your books and i'm to conversation. so i have the honor to
with uce -- i'll start josh. josh reed was born and raised in washington state. he is from the snohomish nation a associate professor of history and american studies in washington. 2009, he got his doctorate at california ty of davis. book that we'll be talking about today was published in press, and itrsity cloud t of the henry roe series on the american indians and maternity. numerous awards and acknowledgements from the organization of american american society for ethno history, the western association, the north american society for oceanic history. currently serves on the editorial advisory board of the pacific northwest quarterly, and
distinguished speaker for history association. dr. reed's next mono graph project explores the pacific late 18th century to the end of the 19th century. edited a volume of photographs of american indian ctivists and occupations and rganizing an upcoming library symposium on indigenous communities and violence. silverman, who got his atd. from princeton in 2000, george washington university. book, one among many, was published with harvard 2016. he's also the author of red indians and the problem of race in early america. in 2010. with cornell as well as faith and boundaries,
olonists, christianity and community among the indians of martha's vineyard, published cambridge in 2005. he's also the coauthor with his wife, julie fisher, who's in the udience today of the bigo biography of -- ninagret, the balance of power century, new england and indian country also published in 2014.ell press awardson, like josh, many from the institute of american history and culture, and the new of history.tion he is currently writing an plymouth colony and the thanksgiving holiday for bluesberry press which will 2020 on the quad ricentennial of plymouth's
titled and the work is "no thanks." maybe give him a hand. you.k [applause] mentioned, i'm going to moderate and ask some some questions and hopefully be able to answer some well.ions as we'll also hopefully have images that we'll pull up from the work. with anted to maybe start whoever wants to go first. of our works, in the theme of trade and power, rethinking the north american west, rethinking native america and one of the ways a lot of the which we'll talk bout today reconceives this is spatially, thinking about concepts of borders and things, s, all of the all of the terms that many think culture both in popular
academy.n the but these are things we're starting to rethink by thinking political enous economy and trade. all of us work with these concepts, and in josh's book, he uses the term, the chadi borderlands. david's book, the concept of gun work, the nd my concept of the interior world. i wanted to maybe spend some ime to talk about all those concepts and how you think about it, hew they are employed, and helps us w that rethink indigenous space in early america. with maybe josh first. came into now, so i this project as a trained historian and also an environmental historian, in primary field of american indian history. so when i started to really kind macaw k about the relationship with the ocean, that's really what my history
details. automatically, that spatial oncept, some framework needed to be discussed, examined, included to point. and, of course, then i found, you know, this borderland's framework, an interesting way of kind of thinking about things. but for me, unlike many other scholars, at least at the time i was in grad school, i at it in the way that native peoples were also kind of property spaces of power, where they were sharing and contesting these paces and the resources that were in t so that's where you now my mind kind of started to take me to seeing an indigenous borderland. unlike some of the other scholarship, my borderlands weren't sitting on the land. water.re out in the and a lot of these, you know, ind of realizations came from many of the conversations that i had with macaw fishermen, as
stories ted telling me about going out fishing with their fathers, with their grandfathers, with their grandmothers and they'd leave grandma the morning and would wake them up a little earlier in the day, they'd be out in the ocean, we're here. this is the family fishing spot. and the kid would look up, you know, and how do you know where are? they started to unpack those histories of the indigenous knowledge of the space in these marine environments, really kind these me to unpack spatial relations in what was, at that time, a different kind native f understanding power in places. silverman: so i used the that rontier in formulation gun frontier advisedly. "frontier" has fallen out of favor in academic circles years because 0 it's idea logically frought.
it's traditionally associated east to west sweep of anglo american people, anglo american institutions, and the is supposed to foreground indian disposition. what academies have tended to favor in recent years instead of "frontier" is the term "borderland." nd i think a short and accessible way to describe the "borderland" is the contact zone rather than the native dispossession. the reason i use the term "frontier" instead of "borderland is i hope to reach both academic and popular assumption was most popular audiences wouldn't nderstand what the term border land was. i tried to draw in readers and then to disinvest this term "frontier" which has become colloquially in academic as the "f word."
ideological f that phrase, i tried to reorient my readers towards a world in which can't assume that anglo american peoples were going to the contest for the continent. ikewise, i wanted to reorient readers to frontier zones that didn't necessarily move from east to west. putting up the gun frontier map? hat i do in my book, i trace the spread of guns through native america and the various that native people revolutionalized their lives firearms. and there's no question about it hat by and large, guns spread from eastern bases of european occupation into native america. direction ine only which these guns flowed. company n's bay trafficked in guns from the and reached a portion of the western
hemisphere of north america, eginning canadians of arctic, spreading to the canadian plains, of what's now british olumbia and the pacific northwest, the northern part of the plains in the united states and the rocky mountain west. unloaded by the french, later on in spanish, later on united states and new orleans spread hundreds of miles north and , to the even east. and likewise, if you go to he -- you turn your attention to the pacific northwest, guns merchant, england nd to a lesser extent, british merchandises into ports of call northwest, aritish uquat, most of you yucca on the vancouver island and to the
panhandle and eventually spread from west to east. what i'm trying to do with this frontier is similar what josh does with the term borderland" which is to draw readers in and to have them exposed to a time in which native people actually held the power. and which native people tended to dictate the terms of interactions, which no one could have predicted. the way things would turn out. mr. silverman: when you take -- mr. zappia: when you take borderlands, with historians, borderland itself almost carries a certain kind of ideological weight as the frontier.
when you are at indigenous borderlands, it creates a different sense of the dimensions of power and who is dictating what those contact zones are, or how they would unfold. if i can talk income recession with the way i think of the ensure your world, which i have a map of here, it is reversing the direction of history, showing multiple modes, multiple ways of understanding these interactions. thinking about it for me was thinking about these interior spaces which are often outside the process of archives. when these native groups show up, it is usually from a distance, or from a skewed perspective that did not really give them the economic or political agency that really existed on the ground. in many ways i'm interested --
when i think of borderlands, or indigenous borderlands, i think of multiple directions. also this idea that these interior spaces -- this is where the guns are moving. that is where a lot of these global commodities are emanating out of into this pacific world. repositioning that allows us to get a much different sense, a more templates understanding of -- a more complex understanding of these movements of power, people, and goods. mr. silverman: you raised an important point in your comment. frontier assumes racial identity. it is a contact point between white people and indians but for much of the period, there were no indians. native people did not perceive of themselves as indians.
it was a part of their identity. not part of their identity. their contact zones with other people were as, if not more, important to them then the relationship with others. intra-community relations is on e of the ways in which all of our work is making serious offenses. -- serious advances. mr. reid: we could take a quick look at the map that he has put up here. david has mentioned this idea that the frontier, one of the problems that historians often tease out is that it assumes history, capital h history, the grand narrative moved east to west, and the frontier and extra
-- inexorrably marched west. one of the big pivots -- this was dan richter's intervention. let's talk about history facing east from indian country. that flips it around, but what we see here is something we're all talking about and that our work engages with. it is not facing east to west, but starting weston facing out. you start to get a different perspective on all the different colonial powers coming in and a different perspective on how power played out in north america from the 17th century
on. that is where i think there has been a big transformation in american indian history, that helps us understand some of these larger narratives. that is something that all of our work has been engaging with. mr. silverman: i wanted to come back to your work in particular because as you know that is the atlantic world, the pacific rim. the oceanic histories are in some ways catching up. there is a wave of books that are trying to reimagine some of the maritime spaces. what do you see coming out of that? i am thinking of the saltwater frontier.
mr. reid: what i take away from those is another layer or more examples of indigenous power. another interesting aspect is this notion of indigenous nobility. a lot of times people work from the assumption that native peoples were in isolated communities, maybe some immediate trade with nearby neighbors occasionally, but there wasn't this idea of vast mobility. we are talking about mobility at the continental level. when you throw in ocean spaces, you start to see other types of connections and mobilities let -- that also covered impressive ranges of space. we start to see from nancy shoemaker's most recent book about native whalemen from the pacific. one of her case studies is a native person from the northeast
who ends up in new zealand and becomes venerated as a white pioneer there, because he is not maori, because the racial classifications there are wildly different. when you throw in the atlantic scale or the pacific scale, there are many different works engaging with this. you start to see ways that native people are engaged with the modern world from the beginning. often, it is following up on indigenous priorities and agendas, other pre-existing dynamics or networks, and they are tapping into the global expansion that happens at this time period. advantage for their own purposes and own agendas. mr. silverman: the place that you see this at work in "thunder sticks," is in a chapter i wrote
about the seminal war in the -- the second seminole war in the 1830's. there is no way that the seminoles should've been able to bog down the united states in its longest and most expensive war. if you put it in today's dollars, it would have run into that many billions of dollars. the seminoles are only 10,000 at 4000 people facing a country of 19 million people. they were not landlocked. they traded with cuba and the bahamas, building on diplomatic relationships. the united states could not control the seminole coastline. one of the reasons they were able to wage such a destructive
war against the united states is that they were as well armed, if not better armed, than the u.s. troops fighting against them. >> that gets at the question about indigenous consumers. trade used to be perceived as barter. that de-emphasized these global networks, the sophistication, and the power that these consumers have. maybe you could talk a little bit about -- a little bit about thinking of commodities in your new book, maybe we can show some of the images of the guns. a lot of times, even when the early works look at indigenous roles, chose producers offering goods, or if the consumption of
firearms is only negative for only to the detriment of indigenous communities. we could talk about how indigenous consumers come into play, in terms of borderlands and power. mr. reid: why don't you bring up that one image. that one. this is one of john weber's watercolors that he made after cook's voyages and it is quite large. in the big one, you can see some interesting detail that i think speak to the level of sophistication of the trade networks that already existed in this part of the world, long before cook's ships sailed in. they actually had to be rowed in.
at the very back of the ship, -- this is one of these examples were you can see it better on the original. right here, there is a sailor reaching out, trading with one of the indigenous who has come up from behind the ship and you have all of these high-level diplomatic protocols unfolding. to figure out was, who are these outsiders? the did not know who they were. were they distant outsiders, or so far distant that they were from somewhere else? one of the things that help them figure out where they were are the stifel medic protocols to diplomaticse
protocols to figure out what kind of people these were. trade was the other way to figure out who these people were. what value they had and what good they had. and it operated at different levels. commoners managing trade on the side, with others managing trade between the ship's captain, between the people on a bigger scale. one of the things that you see, when you look at indigenous consumers, is that native people had sophisticated trade networks that were extensive on more than a regional basis. this is where archaeology has been helpful at tracking where these goods came from.
this is another opportunity that we were seeing and taking advantage of as these opportunities arose. this is what i was finding with my own reading of the document. mr. silverman: i have a couple responses to this prompt. let's focus on the gun trade for a moment. there is a widespread assumption among historians and the general public that when native people obtained firearms from euro-american or european traders, they're getting the worst stock. that they were not sophisticated consumers and did not have a great deal of economic power. can we go to the dragon side plate? quite to the contrary.
native people obtained cutting-edge european firearm technology, particularly flintlock technology, in the 1630's, decades before most and much colonists obtained these weapons in large numbers. the reason was they had a great deal of economic and political power that european governments and european traders could not ignore. to the point that european started manufacturing european firearms to native specifications. they made them light, but more durable. they added decorations the native people wanted, such as this track and side plate. -- this dragon side plate. later on, the english and the french start using this decoration as well. the hudson's bay company adopts it, so do two american firms in the 19th century.
the native people want to this side plate because they associated it with the horned, underwater serpent. i don't want to get deep into native chris marangi, but this cosmology but this is a figure present in the belief systems of most native people across the continent. it is the analog and rival of the thunderbird. the horned underwater serpent in many belief systems was covered with flint scales. he was also associated with shamanistic power, which included the ability to implant poisonous objects in other people from afar. what this symbol is saying is, this weapon carries the explosive power of the thunderbird. it gives the wielder of this weapon the power to injure someone at a distance. quite frankly, i think it just
looks cool. who would not want a weapon with this decoration? the point is that european traders and manufacturers are making guns with this feature, and many others, because native customers demand it. if one european customer did not meet native immense, they would go to another one who would. the other point to make is about the extent and sophistication of native trade systems. i want to call your attention just for a moment to this country which is in the rocky mountain west and northern lanes on the modern-day border of montana and alberta. one of the things that i argue in "thunder sticks," is that native people become dependent on only one category of trade good. munitions. guns, powder, and shot. they can do without european
cloth. they don't want to, but they will be fine without it. they can do without metal tools, but guns are a matter of life and death. a matter of life and death in intertribal relations. those with firearms routinely won victories over those without them. it was incumbent on native peoples to build up their arsenals. as a result, native people developed political economies to secure steady access to guns, powder, shot, gunsmithing, from multiple sources of supply. let's take the blackfeet for example. they cultivated trade relations with hudson's bank company post to the north and for americans to the trade outfit to the cell phone the missouri river. on theheir south
missouri river. they developed specialized economies in panic and, which this'll to hudson's bakery. they basically need a beef jerky, which the daytraders would take into the baltic where they could survive in places -- take into the arctic where they could survive in places with few game animals. to the south, they traded americans bison ropes and got guns, powder, and shot in return. they raided enemy people for horses and for women. the horses they used to acquire more ricin, from which they -- more bison from which they could acquire amick and and robes. the weapon, which they could use to process the roads to these trade firms. they then used the weapons to expand hunting rounds so they could acquire the bison. you get the point. this was an exercise that
stretch between the saskatchewan river, all the way far so to -- far south to around yellowstone national park. this is several hundred miles. the guns are coming from a world away. it is one example among many that stretch across native america. these are not isolated parochial people. these are sophisticated power customers engaged in a market economy. >> the one thing i would like to add is the types of political economy that david unpacks here in thunder sticks -- these are new iterations of pre-existing political economies. it did not take the arrival of europeans and europeans or economies to invigorate native american communities to have these political call -- political economies.
many of them existed long before europe came in. all the way over is the northwestern tip of washington state. that is cape flattery, which is shown here in this map. if you can go back to the other map? macaws were located there as the quintessential middlemen in multiple trade networks. everything coming south from alaska, vancouver island, would stop there at cape flattery, trade with the makahs there. everything coming north and even as far south as northern california would eventually stop there around cape flattery. over the cascades. all of that stuff was funneled
past cape flattery. as one of the macaw elders said, everybody had to pass by cape flattery. you could not miss us, so we could control the goods flowing this way. there were commodities already in these various political economies and networks. the puget sound and the great northwest region, it is things like whale oil, to the count of tens of thousands of gallons per year. archaeological records digs out a village site just south of cape flattery definitively prove there were so many whales being harvested and processed right there that it was far more than people could consume there. it was a commercial good and had
been for about 2000 years. those types of specialized goods where traffic long before europeans came and brought in new things of value. the idea that things have value and could be traded and co-modified in this way was a political economy structured around that. those pieces were already in place long before the arrival of non-natives in this part of the world. mr. zappia: the more that we think about that and recognize the indigenous and historical component to the economy, that disrupts 1492 as this idea of
removing pre- from history. many scholars are looking at indigenous landscapes. >> can i jump in on that? for the public audience i think this is a critical point. we need to get away from this language of the old world and the new world. there is nothing new about native america in 1492. it is an ancient place with hot history in motion. unless you understand that, you cannot understand what follows afterward. there is no such thing as prehistory in native america, there are just a lack of documents. if you can work hard to try to unpack some of that through archaeology and world history. >> that gets to the next question which is so critical. about the methodology, sources.
i want to throw that out to you guys. how did you incorporate or think about it? what did you use and how did you conceive or think about indigenous history through the sources? >> i have quite a challenge in front of me -- there's a constant white history. -- i'm writing a continent wide history over the course of three centuries. it is a lot to get through. i've been teaching for over a decade on this material to have the literature under my belt. i took a number of different approaches. i dedicated myself to getting a handle on the scholarly works on the various subjects i was reading and all of the major
primary sources, whether published or in manuscript form. that took me to two dozen archives across the united states and canada. i made sure i was impressed of the archaeological record which includes not just reading published works and archaeology, it is about sitting on this works until they die. you have to find them in the basement of your museum. what i have found is that, almost to a person, incredible generosity among the archaeological community. almost to the point that it could not escape once i opened the conversation. examining hundreds and hundreds of 17th-century firearms excavated from these sites from
what is now upstate new york. we were talking about this before this session. i made it a point to draft a variety of public audiences. outside the academy, gun enthusiasts, for instance. archaeologists, living history museums, the national parks service staff, many of whom knew the sites better than i ever could, and native american communities. almost without fail, those presentations resulted in conversations that often extended beyond that particular event and taught me a great deal and made me far more sensitive to the terms i was using, to the
questions i was asking, than i could have hoped for. mr. reid: my approach was very similar, but in some ways a lot easier. i was not writing this sweeping history, though it does cover a lot of years. at least focuses on one region, this area around cape flattery. as a native person myself, i approach people like what do we do as historians. to get to know and understand the past. that may be with event interpretive piece that there is a fair amount of perspective that gets into our work. the perspective we approach those documents from and how you
know and remember the past. for me, i immediately engage with macaw ways with knowing and remembering the past. which meant spending a lot of time out at this one bay and getting to know the oral historys that the family's share amongst each other, and with other people. looking through archaeological, material records and items pulled literally out of the mud to get a sense of what life was like in the 15th century for makahs before europeans. really trying to combine that with the archival records that i was finding all over north
america about this particular corner of the pacific world. for me, it was this long running engagement, an engagement i continue to this day. one of the many presentations i did at the bay, one of the mothers in the audience when i was sent gave me a troubling, sarcastic clap. like, that's lovely. she was like, all right, but our kids need this information our here. are they going to sit down and read your 300 to 400 page book and slog through the historian's language with this, or do you have any interest in bringing the spec to the community? i already have a long history of doing that. i felt that, as a grad student, i was getting paid to go to
these are calves and live the - to these archives and live the dream of scanning documents for two weeks. i had all of these records. every time i went back to the bay, i brought the latest scans burned on a dvd, or disc, or print outs, and whatever i had, i shared with the archives there. i said, of course, i would love to be able to package when i have for the schools here. when i moved back home to the university, that is what i pushed for for this curriculum project, to be gearing up with teachers, so they can work with many of the types of documents and sources. so that teachers can be crafting and creating curriculum that works in their classrooms with their k-12 students.
part of the methodology is not just different types of sources and adopting different perspectives, but this long running engagement that is absolutely critical when doing native american history. the days of going into the archives and looking at indian history, and the safety of the past, those are done. or they should be. it is encouraging to hear my colleagues talk about the engagement they have had with the communities, and what they have learned from that. 10 to 20 years ago it was not like that. there are still a lot of our colleagues who think they can dig around in the archives and write an accurate history. that is just drawing from a handful of sources, not the full
range of ways to engage with the past. mr. silverman: you're saying it cannot just be smash and grab. that has been the trend. i was schooled on the appropriate way to go about this early in my graduate school days when working with one community. the elder sat down and said, we will help you out, but you had better be around to help us out. it has been a relationship that has gone around for 20 years. i have had folks sleep at my house when coming through town. giving talks. it has to be reciprocal. mr. zappia: think we will open it to questions. i know we are getting to the end of the allotted time. a question i did want to ask you guys if you can outline some of your personal journeys and how you came to this work, and what
you are interested in now, what you are doing next and how that fits with everything. >> for me, i kind of think about three different entry points. i'm not -- it is a northern puget sound tribe. my grandfather lived down the peninsula. we would be camping, down on the beach. he would tell his wonderful stories of his mother and grandmother fishing in the ocean. i was like, there are waves out there. it is different from fishing at a lake or river. that really was a mind blowing type moment. native people with canoes. women out there fishing and doing stuff on the water. for me, the water always seems like the right space where my
people and neighboring people belong. my first backpacking trip was while the dig was happening and that was absolutely fascinating. we saw people who were there in the trenches alongside the archaeologists from washington state university working with the materials, working the digging, processing. elders telling stories about the objects being brought out of the ground. many of them related to whaling. in the late 1990's, when they were doing their whale hunt, which they were doing out on the water, they burst onto the scene. that was back when i was teaching middle school. the kids were like, whoa, did you read this, did you see this coverage?
what do they mean when people say these things? these were outrageously racist things being published in the newspaper. we talked about that in class. i was like somebody should really write about this. well, i guess i should go back and do this project. for me, that really was kind of the launching point, the idea of indigenous peoples in the waters, indigenous marine space. the next project pushes me out a little further into the pacific, sweeping in many ways. that is kind of the geographical manner. i'm looking at indigenous explorers in the pacific. about five different case studies of different peoples who went places and largely came home. reframing what the world was like for the people so we are turning on the head this idea
that the age of exploration only happened a month european people or certain types of people. >> [inaudible] modern young people in various tribes today aware of some of the stuff or are they learning themselves along? what will this do for their view of their history and empowering the different tribes? >> it depends. what i found out amongst the makaws is history is a family affair. different families have different family histories that they have told from one generation to another. some families do that better than others. so, there are some families where some of the stories that i
was pulling on and crafting and packaging in my book -- they grew up hearing just kind of the oral history portion of that. seeing some of the documentary stuff combined with the oral history was particularly very interesting for them. then, my book pulls together a lot of the different threads of the various histories. for some students it was like, wow, i did not know that. some of the elders were like i know this portion of what you are talking about. all this stuff you were talking about, i didn't know anything about. another family did know about that and they didn't know about this other stuff. a lot of it is pulling together some of these types of threads. david, how did you get to this? >> a couple of different ways. i did an m.a. at the college of williamsburg.
when my academics ended, i could not afford to move. i took a job as a colonial guide at jamestown center. among my responsibilities was doing a daily militia drill with these early 17th century era muskets. when you fire the gun, you are pulling a lever. you are lowering a lit wick into a pan of powder. i read enough history to know that most historians assume these guns are slow and cumbersome and inaccurate. >> some of the lectures i have given that exact line. >> learning to fire this thing in 20 seconds. i'm not adept to this sort of thing. it is the challenge that this technology produced. then, i sat down with the fellows in charge of this
arsenal, i said how powerful are these things? he said let me show you. he pullout several steel dress plates that the english would have worn. he showed me the great holes these lead musket balls punched through. he said this is what i set up at 75 yards. 100 yards. he hit it about half the time. wow. an arrow could not do this. seems to me under these weapons are easier to use and far more destructive than we're led to believe. i started doing my phd work and my early academic work post-doctorate, i was increasingly encountering material in the archive showing native people making the acquisition of these weapons.
their first order of business in their dealings with europeans. i kept encountering examples of well armed native people overrunning poorly armed native people. as i read more history, i kept encountering this notion that these early firearms were ineffective, inaccurate and that native people wanted them because of their so-called psychological effect. the dazzle pyrotechnics of the weapon. something was not adding up. it planted the question that i then pursued in this book. i'd also like to speak to your question and live it -- a little bit about how native communities respond to this kind of work. i have seen two different views. on the one hand, i think there is a widespread opinion in native america, which i think is
spot on, that indian history does not get appropriate coverage in the way that we teach american students. that to the limited extent these people appear in american history as cameos and intends to be disrespectful. you read the work of all the people on this stage, the various colleagues, that kind of approach cannot hold. at the same time, i also think -- i don't think this is universal in native america, but i think there is some understandable resistance to having people outside of the community write about the community's history, because it is often not presented in a way that rings true with those communities. i think that is true for a couple of different reasons. one is that what we are trying to achieve as historians is not what communities are trying to
achieve in their history. good academic history gets people -- it throws them off their block. the challenge is there a sentence. it tarnishes their ancestors. it does not matter what group of people you are talking about. most people, whoever you are talking about, want history to produce little patriots. whatever your social group happens to be. whether it is a nation or an empire or a tribe or a community. what we do, what we are trying to complexify things. it shows heroes are more three-dimensional and flawed than one would originally assume. it exposes people and understandably many communities do not want it exposed. they want to control the message. at the same time, very often the historical knowledge those
communities have is their possession. sharing it with outsiders is in some ways giving up who they are, so that other people can then apply that knowledge in ways the community might not very well like. i think there is tension. i don't think it is tension that can be resolved. the best way we should go about it is being as respectful as we can. >> one of the things that i do when i train my graduate students to work with me -- this is very similar in umass boston when i was working with masters students -- they conceive of these projects -- if they want to be doing indian history and working with the community and want to be engaging with indigenous ways of remembering the past, that starts from the beginning. you don't wait until you are three to four years and do
something and then drop by and say tell me everything you got. i will put it in here and it will be great, don't worry. so, but, sadly that has been the perspective that a lot of our colleagues have approached history with indigenous communities. that has been the approach. so, for my students, i work with them on integrating themselves, introducing themselves to the community. being there and engaging in ways before they start to ask a wonky academic question, so you have a relationship and can start to push some of these boundaries, that if you just are coming in pushing those boundaries, already you will get resistance. more importantly, as you get to know to the community and see there are many interesting opportunities for research projects, questions that pushes the boundaries, that are
complex, gritty, complicated -- there is a lot of that in american indian history that you can do that can report indigenous priorities. that is where my project fell into that sweet spot. makaws, they understood what they were doing with the revival of the whale hunt. a lot of outsiders didn't. even people who were supportive. they are just trying to live in the past. we have screwed them over so many times, let them do what they are going to do. this is not what they are doing. they are not trying to rekindle something from 100 years ago. this is part of who they are today as modern native people in the united states. i'm going to trace this historically, showing how they have constantly been engaging by using their customs and
practices to succeed wildly. this was something that fit very well with their priorities at this time. there's still quite a bit of history that you can do, but you have to approach it from that collaborative way from the beginning. that is something i try to help my students understand. >> you asked me about my next project. this center of history of plymouth colony to go with the anniversary of the founding. it's decades long conversations in which they tell me what it is like to be a child in a classroom conducting a thanksgiving pageant. in which their people are depicted as naïve, simple savages who consent to their own colonialism.
the kids did there and note it is nonsense. everyone in the classroom is being encouraged to identify with the english. they are supposed to be the we. native people are supposed to be the them. native people a part of the united states, too. their story matters as much as that story of the english struggling to create a successful colony, the first to survive in new england. part of what i'm trying to do is take that perspective and to get wider readership to think is this really what we want to do in teaching our kids about history? teach them that a shared meal should be the symbol of colonial america? i don't think so. we should have the least bit of critical thinking around this
for the holiday. >> it looks like we have a number of people with questions. i'd ask if you can keep them fairly short so we can get to as many people as possible. we will start here. >> do you think the events at standing rock, the involvement of so many people gathering to challenge, and the obvious brutality of the government, does that change the relationship to the kind of work you are doing? >> yes and no. what is happening at standing rock is profound in many ways. this is a very large gathering of people. there have been a number of broad galleries before but this one is on an even bigger scale. that seems to be one of those big pivot points with what is happening there.
from an indigenous perspective, the militarized reaction to standing rock is old news. we can look back at the piquot war and look at different ways things have been militarized against native people. even the reservation, policing of the reservation, trying to keep native people in their places literally. that there has been a heavily militarized reaction that way, whether it be the massacre at wounded knee in 1890, whether it be the militarized response to the american indian movement occupation at wounded knee at the brothers alexia novitiate. this is old news. that perspective of it.
i do think -- then thinking about the larger mainstream implications of this. does this make our work more receptive? what i'm noticing in colleges is yes, especially when you connect it to things today and you connect it to national -- natural resources. the management that some of the tribal nations have at managing these resources. and then what happens when the state comes in and wipes it all away. i think there is definitely a lot to be gained from our perspective. >> i would agree with all of those points. i would like to add too. i think this episode at standing rock emphasizes two things that i emphasize in my writing and in my teaching.
one is that if you take native american history seriously, there is no end to the colonialism or the american revolution. it is not the beginning of the reservation period. colonialism is ongoing and this episode certainly illustrates that point in spades. another is one of the arcs in native american history is the way various peoples who never identified as indian or indigenous native american before and recently came to see themselves as having common cause. you certainly see that in spades at standing rock as well. >> i see the history of north america as an opportunity for a lot of missed relationships. i will run through the grinder of manifest destiny. traded weapons could also be called gunrunning.
i'm thinking of the europeans, if they had massive conquest on their mind, what did they think about arming their future enemies or were they thinking their army be surrogate fighters of the other colonial nation? it does not make sense to trade arms with people you will fight in another 50 or 100 years if you are thinking about manifest destiny conquest. >> there are a couple of reasons. europeans on the ground understood they were arming people that would later be using those weapons against them. that was the long-term problem. the short-term problem was native people were powerful and insistent in receiving these weapons on a condition of allowing these colonies to exist in their backyard. most places in north america did not invade them posts. -- invade the coasts. they struck deals with native
people on the coast who wanted to trade. at that moment in time, most people could not predict settler colonialism. the arrival of families, the expansion of those populations. the expansion of livestock herds. in the short-term, what they want are these goods. yes, metal tools, but especially weapons. weapons that would tilt the intertribal balance of power. the second is colonial states never have the ability to control country. rogue colonialism. colonial governors and assemblies wrung their hands over the trade of guns deals and banded quite often on sometimes making it a capital crime in certain instances to trade guns with native people. never were they able to gordon off people.
indeed, these were not just rogue traders, very often it is government military officials. it speaks to that point we were making earlier. the reason we did this is because native people controlled valuable economic resources. the economies of most early colonies were based on relationships with native people. the fur trade was big business in most colonies. that was the centerpiece of their economy. new netherland, new friends, -- new france, russian alaska and the like. what native people wanted more than anything else -- guns, powder, and gunsmithing. >> any other questions? >> first of all, let me say i'm registered in the mission in san diego county.
we talked here about new england and the pacific northwest. can you address the trade between the mojaves and the coast? it seems to me it is a little different than the makaw. they were the center as the mojaves were the traders. >> this fellow to my left wrote the book on it. [laughter] >> i'm glad you brought it up now because i get to talk about my book. no, it shows you the complexity that native american had different kinds of -- within the native groups. so, for instance, the mojaves were part of the colorado river region which consisted of many
different native groups. some of which were akin to san diego county. also, traded across the mojave desert, between the coast and the colorado river. also went east into present-day new mexico. the trade networks were not unlike, in terms of the distance as josh and david were talking about, 1000 miles. for instance, some of the things they traded -- this is an image i love. you can see it is in a bowl. you can see the shell which was harvested and manufactured into these. you can see how small, the quantity, precision. the labor that it entailed and
the structure of it. that engaged in the production of these -- why a group of people would go through such trouble to make these in such matters. and are millions of these as far to vancouver island and far east as texas. it is a market economy. the indigenous goods, but also the mojave traded baskets made in california in particular that went east. they brought back cotton, textiles. farmed and manufactured in the river. there was this vast network of goods that indigenous consumers bought before the europeans came. those were particularly
important for the mojaves. the mojave desert is one of the most inhospitable places in the world. to have these roads that connected these different regions. the goods were really important and facilitated those networks. the spanish entered and colonized and were not able to do that. different kinds of dynamics. the idea of indigenous consumers, really vast networks stretching over 1000 years, if not longer. over 1000 years that continued long after the europeans came. >> ok, well, i would very much like to thank the three panelists on stage. [applause]
if any of you were interested in the topics discussed, all three of their books are available in the museum store today. they will be in the lobby to talk more, signed the books, and interact with us. please if you have any more questions, they will be here in the lobby. thank you all for coming today. thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you are watching american history tv. follow us on twitter for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest industry news -- history news.
tv,ext on american history former law clerks to supreme court justice thurgood marshall examine his legacy. he served from 1967 to 1991. panelists, including supreme court justice elena kagan, remember that time working for the first african american member of the court and discuss his opinions on landmark cases. we recorded this at the u.s. second circuit court of appeals in new york city. it is about two hours. >> today is a special day. in theus are here thurgood marshall u.s. courthouse to celebrate an american hero, thurgood