The Texture of Contact: European and Indian Settler Communities on the Frontiers of Iroquoia, 1667-1783

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Overview

The Texture of Contact is a landmark study of Iroquois and European communities and coexistence in eastern North America before the American Revolution. David L. Preston details the ways in which European and Iroquois settlers on the frontiers creatively adapted to each other's presence, weaving webs of mutually beneficial social, economic, and religious relationships that sustained the peace for most of the eighteenth century.

Drawing on a wealth of previously unexamined archival research, Preston describes everyday encounters between Europeans and Indians along the frontiers of the Iroquois Confederacy in the St. Lawrence, Mohawk, Susquehanna, and Ohio valleys. Homesteads, taverns, gristmills, churches, and markets were frequent sites of intercultural exchange and negotiation. Complex diplomatic and trading relationships developed as a result of European and Iroquois settlers bartering material goods. Innovative land-sharing arrangements included the common practice of Euroamerican farmers living as tenants of the Mohawks, sometimes for decades. This study reveals that the everyday lives of Indians and Europeans were far more complex and harmonious than past histories have suggested. Preston's nuanced comparisons between various settlements also reveal the reasons why peace endured in the Mohawk and St. Lawrence valleys while warfare erupted in the Susquehanna and Ohio valleys.

One of the most comprehensive studies of eighteenth-century Iroquois history, The Texture of Contact broadens our understanding of eastern North America's frontiers and the key role that the Iroquois played in shaping that world.

David L. Preston is an assistant professor of history at the Citadel.

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Editorial Reviews

Timothy J. Shannon
"Preston''s astute analysis challenges our notions of the geographic and racial barriers that separated native and colonial peoples along the early American frontier. In settler communities stretching from Montreal to western Maryland, he recovers the contours of everyday contact, negotiation, and exchange among peoples from remarkably diverse backgrounds, illuminating the bonds that held them together and the conflicts that eventually drove them apart. This book is an enjoyable and rewarding read for anyone interested in the fate of the Iroquois and their neighbors in eighteenth-century America."

-Timothy J. Shannon, author of Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier

Daniel K. Richter
"Through deep research in neglected manuscripts, David Preston recovers a world where Native Americans and European colonists traded, ate, slept, drank, and fought together on intimate terms negotiated far from the prying eyes of imperial officials. Only by appreciating these dense human connections, he compellingly argues, can we understand the murderous racial hatreds that seized the region when war came in the late eighteenth century-and the enduring legacy of those hatreds for the continent's history."

-Daniel K. Richter, author of Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

"Students of Iroquois culture and backcountry history will be surprised and challenged by this book, which shows in a new way that conflict was never inevitable in the backcountry. Even on the eve of the Revolution, there was still the possibility of Indian-European amity in the Iroquoian borderlands."—Daniel Ingram, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

— Daniel Ingram

Choice

"Well-written, thoroughly researched . . . . [Preston’s] major contribution is the wonderful descriptions of Indian economic, cultural, and social relations with diverse whites in the Mohawk Valley."—L. M. Hauptman, Choice

— L. M. Hauptman

Timothy J. Shannon

"Preston's astute analysis challenges our notions of the geographic and racial barriers that separated native and colonial peoples along the early American frontier. In settler communities stretching from Montreal to western Maryland, he recovers the contours of everyday contact, negotiation, and exchange among peoples from remarkably diverse backgrounds, illuminating the bonds that held them together and the conflicts that eventually drove them apart. This book is an enjoyable and rewarding read for anyone interested in the fate of the Iroquois and their neighbors in eighteenth-century America."—Timothy J. Shannon, author of Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier

Daniel K. Richter

"Through deep research in neglected manuscripts, David Preston recovers a world where Native Americans and European colonists traded, ate, slept, drank, and fought together on intimate terms negotiated far from the prying eyes of imperial officials. Only by appreciating these dense human connections, he compellingly argues, can we understand the murderous racial hatreds that seized the region when war came in the late eighteenth century—and the enduring legacy of those hatreds for the continent’s history."—Daniel K. Richter, author of Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

Ethnohistory

"Preston has created an original and stimulating narrative by engaging with frontier peoples on their own lands and on their own terms."—Christopher Bilodeau, Ethnohistory

— Christopher Bilodeau

American Historical Review

"Preston is an ambitious and stimulating writer, and his book is worthy of use in the graduate or advanced undergraduate classroom."—Gregory Evans Dowd, American Historical Review

— Gregory Evans Dowd

Senator John Heinz History Center - Kelly Anderson

"In a fascinating work based on primary source research, Citadel professor David Preston takes another look at history’s preconceived notions regarding settler and Indian interactions in the colonial period."—Kelly Anderson, Senator John Heinz History Center
William and Mary Quarterly

"This book is a substantive and welcome addition to the scholarship on eighteenth-century Native-settler relations. . . . Preston''s engaging writing style makes the book viable for assignment in upper-level undergraduate courses and graduate seminars, and all scholars in the field will need to grapple with the implications of his significant findings regarding the importance of local, "everyday," face-to-face interactions across cultural boundaries in early America."—Jon Parmenter, William and Mary Quarterly

— Jon Parmenter

Ethnohistory - Christopher Bilodeau

"Preston has created an original and stimulating narrative by engaging with frontier peoples on their own lands and on their own terms."—Christopher Bilodeau, Ethnohistory
Pennsylvania History - James Kirby Martin
The Texture of Contact deserves to be recognized for what it is, a major contribution to the ever growing body of academic studies about Indian-white interactions, both peaceful and bloody, in colonial North America. Preston’s presentation represents a sophisticated analysis that moves significantly beyond currently fashionable explanations about Indian-white interactions—and the reasons why harmony finally gave way to a bloody history of violence and the dispossession of Native Americans from their homelands.”—James Kirby Martin, Pennsylvania History

 
William and Mary Quarterly - Jon Parmenter

"This book is a substantive and welcome addition to the scholarship on eighteenth-century Native-settler relations. . . . Preston's engaging writing style makes the book viable for assignment in upper-level undergraduate courses and graduate seminars, and all scholars in the field will need to grapple with the implications of his significant findings regarding the importance of local, "everyday," face-to-face interactions across cultural boundaries in early America."—Jon Parmenter, William and Mary Quarterly
American Historical Review - Gregory Evans Dowd

"Preston is an ambitious and stimulating writer, and his book is worthy of use in the graduate or advanced undergraduate classroom."—Gregory Evans Dowd, American Historical Review
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography - Daniel Ingram

"Students of Iroquois culture and backcountry history will be surprised and challenged by this book, which shows in a new way that conflict was never inevitable in the backcountry. Even on the eve of the Revolution, there was still the possibility of Indian-European amity in the Iroquoian borderlands."—Daniel Ingram, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
Choice - L. M. Hauptman

"Well-written, thoroughly researched . . . . [Preston's] major contribution is the wonderful descriptions of Indian economic, cultural, and social relations with diverse whites in the Mohawk Valley."—L. M. Hauptman, Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803213692
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Series: The Iroquoians and Their World Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

David L. Preston is an assistant professor of history at the Citadel.

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