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Tracy LeavelleThe Catholic Calumet: Colonial Conversions in French and Indian North America

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014

by Franklin Rausch on March 9, 2015

Tracy Leavelle

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Studies of Christian missions can easily fall into two different traps: either one-sidedly presenting the missionaries as heroes saving benighted savages or portraying them as villains carrying out cultural imperialism. At the same time, these vastly different perspectives are based on the same error of minimizing native agency. In The Catholic Calumet: Colonial Conversions in French and Indian North America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), Tracy Leavelle transcends these limited perspectives. Through careful research and masterful prose, Leavelle embraces and elucidates the complexities inherent in the relationships between French Catholic missionaries, mostly Jesuits, and Native Americans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Through insightful explorations of the historical record, Leavelle reverses stereotypes commonly held about Christian missions, showing how missionaries also had to “convert” to native ways of thinking and that Native Americans had considerable space in which to maintain traditional identities or to develop their own ways of being Catholic. Moreover, Leavelle’s skill as a writer makes for a book that is not only informative and thought provoking, but genuinely moving as well.

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Margaret D. JacobsA Generation Removed: The Fostering and Adoption of Indigenous Children in the Postwar World

March 5, 2015

In 2012, a young Cherokee girl named Veronica became famous. The widespread and often coercive adoption and fostering of Indigenous children by non-Native families has long been known, discussed, and challenged in Indian Country. Now, because of an interview on Dr. Phil with the white South Carolina couple seeking to adopt Veronica, the issue went […]

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Boyd CothranRemembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence

December 9, 2014

If George Armstrong Custer had kept off of Greasy Grass that June day in 1875, Vine Deloria, Jr.'s manifesto might well have been called "Canby Died For Your Sins." The highest ranking U.S. military official to be killed in the so-called "Indian Wars," General Edward Canby's death at the hands of Modoc fighters in 1873 […]

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Edward E. AndrewsNative Apostles: Black and Indian Missionaries in the British Atlantic World

November 7, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Christian Studies] Often when we think of missions to Native Americans or people of African descent, we think of white missionaries. In his book Native Apostles: Black and Indian Missionaries in the British Atlantic World (Harvard University Press, 2013), Dr. Edward E. Andrews challenges this view. Through his careful research, skilled use of anecdotes, and compelling […]

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Claudio SauntWest of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776

October 21, 2014

Few years in U.S. history call to mind such immediate stock images as 1776. Powdered wigs. Founding fathers. Red coats. And if asked to place this assembly of objects and people, a few cities stand out: Boston. Philadelphia. Williamsburg, perhaps. This is the small world conjured by the Revolutionary era; the remainder of the continent, […]

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Mark RifkinSettler Common Sense: Queerness and Everyday Colonialism in the American Renaissance

August 21, 2014

In Settler Common Sense: Queerness and Everyday Colonialism in the American Renaissance  (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), Mark Rifkin, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and incoming president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, explores three of the most canonical authors in the American literary awakening–Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Melville–demonstrating how even as their texts mount […]

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Ian Haney LopezDog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

June 30, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Ian Haney Lopez is the author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class (Oxford UP 2014). He is the John H. Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and on the Executive Committee of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social […]

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Jace WeaverThe Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927

June 3, 2014

For all the incisive work published in Native American and Indigenous studies over the past decades, troubling historical myths still circulate in both academic and popular discourse. One of the most persistent is how we tell the story of the Atlantic world as a set of unidirectional processes dominated by Europeans and populated by enslaved […]

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Arica L. ColemanThat the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia

April 2, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Law] Arica Coleman did not start out to write a legal history of “the one-drop rule,” but as she began exploring the relationship between African American and Native peoples of Virginia, she unraveled the story of how the law created a racial divide that the Civil Rights movement has never eroded. Virginia’s miscegenation […]

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H. Glenn PennyKindred by Choice: Germans and American Indians since 1800

February 5, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] If you have spent a bit of time in Germany or with German friends, you may have noticed the deep interest and affinity many Germans have for American Indians. What are the origins of this striking and enduring fascination? In many ways, it might be said to go back to Tacitus’ Germania – […]

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