In a Barren Land: The American Indian Quest for Cultural Survival, 1607 to the Presentby Paula M. Marks
Award-winning historian Paula Mitchell Marks reconfirms her status as one of the foremost contemporary chroniclers of the American West with this often appalling, yet always engrossing, account of American Indian cultures under siege from 1607 to the present. In a dazzling synthesis of the latest research with masterful storytelling, Marks portrays the systematic… See more details below
Award-winning historian Paula Mitchell Marks reconfirms her status as one of the foremost contemporary chroniclers of the American West with this often appalling, yet always engrossing, account of American Indian cultures under siege from 1607 to the present. In a dazzling synthesis of the latest research with masterful storytelling, Marks portrays the systematic dispossession of America's original inhabitants over centuries of broken promises and bloody persecutions. Well-known events and personalities -- the Battle of Little Big Horn, the Trail of Tears, Geronimo, to name a few -- are juxtaposed with lesser-known but equally pivotal episodes such as the Navajos' Long Walk, the Snake Indian resistance, and more.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
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- 1ST QUILL
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.24(d)
Read an Excerpt
They were strange and rather pitiful, the voyagers who sailed into the bay and up the river and began scratching out an odd sort of village on a swampy peninsula. They showed little ability at gathering or growing things to eat, at fishing or hunting. They did not adapt well to the climate and grew sick. They fought among themselves and failed to make proper seasonal provisions. Surely they would tire of such an existence and go back to their own lands. At one point, the whole group did sail away. But soon they returned.
The natives of the bay area at first found this incursion only mildly disturbing. They had repeatedly come in contact with crews of ships from across the ocean. The natives no doubt knew of the short-lived village of voyagers on an island to the south some three decades earlier, and they easily recalled that in the same period one of their own number, a young man who had been kidnapped by a ship's crew, had returned in a vessel accompanied by eight men in long robes.
These men had constructed a lone wooden "mission" on a river feeding into the bay. A group of natives, perhaps angered by the missionaries' attitude toward their own religion, perhaps eager to avenge the kidnapping of natives by ship crews, had killed the eight after only a few months' coexistence.
Now the natives killed a few of the newcomers forging into their hunting grounds. Others they helped, sharing food supplies and showing them how to plant corn and tobacco, squash and beans, how to dam part of a stream to trap fish, how to hunt deer and otter, opossum and turkey.
Meanwhile, more people from across the ocean came -- not just men, but women and children. Their fields and dwellings spreadoutward from the initial village, which they called Jamestown, all along the river, which they called the James, completely unconcerned with what the natives called it. The wild game fled into the oak and pine forests. The newcomers' livestock trampled the fields on which the natives, now often ill with strange and terrible maladies, grew their crops. The newcomers talked and acted as if the whole region belonged to them, even alleged that some distant authority told them they could have it.
And sooner or later each native awoke to the chilling realization that the strangers were "a people come from under the world, to take their world from them."
Copyright © 1998 by Paula Mitchell Marks In a Barren Land. Copyright © by Paula M. Marks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Paula Mitchell Marks is a major historian of the American West whose last book, Precious Dust, won the Western Writers of America Award for the best nonfiction book of 1994. A Ph.D. in American civilization from the University of Texas, she now serves as associate dean of the New College Program and as associate professor of American studies at St. Edward's University in Austin. Active in writers' and historical organizations, she is also a board member of the Texas Institute of Letters and a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association. She and her husband, Alan, and daughter, Carrie, live in Buda, Texas.
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