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Second Thoughts on Colonial Historians and American Indians

James H. Merrell
The William and Mary Quarterly
Vol. 69, No. 3 (July 2012), pp. 451-512
DOI: 10.5309/willmaryquar.69.3.0451
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5309/willmaryquar.69.3.0451
Page Count: 62
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Second Thoughts on Colonial Historians and American Indians
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Abstract

This article revisits the question of how American Indians are faring at the hands of colonial historians, which I first considered in the January 1989 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly. It argues that, despite the wealth of scholarship being done on Native peoples and the growing awareness of that work in the wider field of early American studies, understanding of the Indians’ experience, of their place in early America—and therefore of early America itself—is still handicapped by historians’ use of an archaic, Eurocentric vocabulary. A look at some of the scholarship published since the turn of the millennium suggests how pervasive and pernicious this biased terminology remains, and how it stands in the way of efforts to fathom that strange place conventionally called “early America.”

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