The American Indian and the Problem of History

Paperback | January 1, 1987

EditorCalvin Martin

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The problem of history for North American Indians is that historical consciousness has traditionally been irrelevant to them, perhaps even dangerous. Time, with its attendant experiences, realities, and knowledge, was not linear, progressive, and novel. Their vision of themselves in relationto the cosmos was very different from the anthropocentric perspective that came to dominate Western thinking. Each of the eighteen authors herein wrestles with the phenomenon that in writing about Indians and whites in concert scholars are perforce trying to mesh two very different structures andsystems of reality and knowledge--two fundamentally different cosmologies--which in fact do not really fit together. In essays written especially for this volume, each scholar confronts the problem from his or her distinct experience as historian, anthropologist, professional writer, Native ornon-Native American. This in not a book about methodology; it probes far deeper than that. It questions whether formal Western history has the philosophical power and imagination to enable scholars to write about life and world societies who were conceived in history, who did not willingly launchthemselves out onto an historical trajectory, and who performed in the Western vision and errand of history only through coercion. Here, then, is a study of the "metaphysics" of writing Indian-white history.

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The problem of history for North American Indians is that historical consciousness has traditionally been irrelevant to them, perhaps even dangerous. Time, with its attendant experiences, realities, and knowledge, was not linear, progressive, and novel. Their vision of themselves in relationto the cosmos was very different from the a...

Calvin Martin is at Rutgers University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 7.99 × 5.31 × 0.51 inPublished:January 1, 1987Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195038568

ISBN - 13:9780195038569

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"A lively and positive collection of essays on the nature, process, and interpretation of history in its many forms. It is an enlightening book which cuts to the heart of the matter of history and Indians."--Roy Wortman, Kenyon College