In the early 1800s, when once-powerful North American Indian peoples were being driven west across the Mississippi, a Shawnee prophet collapsed into a deep sleep. When he awoke, he told friends and family of his ascension to Indian heaven, where his grandfather had given him a warning: "Beware of the religion of the white man: every Indian who embraces it is obliged to take the road to the white man's heaven; and yet no red man is permitted to enter there, but will have to wander about forever without a resting place." The events leading to this vision are the subject of A Spirited Resistance, the poignant story of the Indian movement to challenge Anglo-American expansionism. Departing from the traditional confines of the history of American Indians, Gregory Evans Dowd carefully draws on ethnographic sources to recapture the beliefs, thoughts, and actions of four principal Indian nations-Delaware, Shawnee, Cherokee, and Creek. The result is a sensitive portrayal of the militant Indians-often led by prophets-who came to conceive of themselves as a united people, and launched an intertribal campaign to resist the Anglo-American forces.
Dowd also uncovers the Native American opposition to the movement for unity. That opposition, he finds, was usually the result of divisions within Indian communities rather than intertribal rivalry. In fact, Dowd argues, intertribal enmity had little to do with the ultimate failure of the Indian struggle; it was division within Indian communities, colonial influence on Indian government, and the sheer force of the Anglo-American campaign that brought the Indian resistance movement to an end. An evocative history of long frustration and ultimate failure, A Spirited Resistance tells of a creative people, whose insights, magic, and ritual add a much-needed dimension to our understanding of the American Indian.
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(229mm x 152mm x 15mm)
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
A fresh and thorough review of the role of prophets and religion in Native American relations with Europeans and Americans during a critical period of contact. Reassessing conventional wisdom about Indian prophets and the basis for native uprisings against the colonists - a wisdom that viewed nativism as a retrograde, isolated phenomenon arising sporadically throughout the 18th and 19th centuries - Dowd (History/Univ. of Notre Dame) concentrates on linking the messages carried in the prophecies. What emerges is a solid portrait of a pan-Indian imperative that waxed and waned in the colonial era and beyond. With the Shawnee, Delaware, Creek, and Cherokee serving as the basis for analysis here, the experiences and contexts of prophets ranging from the Delaware Neolin in the 1760's to Tecumseh's brother Tenskwatawa in the early 1800's make clear that the visions of these figures were closely associated with the more secular intentions of warriors and chiefs. The pan-Indian movement, however, with its rejection of everything whites had to offer - especially Christianity and alcohol - was never embraced wholeheartedly by Native Americans, and dissension in the ranks plus steady encroachment on tribal lands by settlers and their unrelenting racism - which resulted in the slaughter of countless friendly as well as hostile Indians - kept any possibility of a unified challenge to the invaders from bearing fruit. Persuasive and provocative, and a fitting contribution to the commemoration of the Columbus legacy. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Gregory Evans Dowd
Gregory Evans Dowd is a professor of history and American Culture and Director of Native American Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and author of A Spirited Resistance: The North American Struggle for Unity, 1745-1815, also available from Johns Hopkins.