Re: Early Amerind assimilation (Was: Re: Romans in the New World?)

Anthony West (aawest@CritPath.Org)
Mon, 29 Jul 1996 22:14:02 GMT

In article <4ti5mv$> Beth Williams) writes:
>First of all, the term *Amerind* is highly offensive to most Indians,
>myself included, so if I'm going to continue to participate in this
>thread, a more appropriate term must be used.
I don't wish to offend with terminology. I've found Native
Americans not always in agreement as to what they wish to be
called so I tend to toss many different terms out there at
once, hoping everyone will find the word they prefer
included. I'll skip Amerind for your sake.

>In <DvALss.JK2@CritPath.Org> aawest@CritPath.Org (Anthony West) writes:
>>In article <4te72d$>
> Beth Williams) writes:
>>>In <Dv7yt3.FL0@CritPath.Org> aawest@CritPath.Org (Anthony West)
>>>>I'd like to see some discussion and literature refs on the
>>>>subject of social and genetic contacts between East Coast
>>>>Amerinds and Old World emigrants.
>Archaeologically or ethnohistorically?
I'd be interested to see what either had to offer.

>Your search for *genetic*
>indicators is highly problematic, as whites are a little more sensitive
>about digging up and studying their ancestors than they are about
>studying mine.
True. But there are still a lot of old white bones
knocking around various curators' collections. The
work is not undoable, I think. Has anyone done it?

>*Culturally* also runs into problems, as how does one
>distinguish between cultural *diffusion* and *appropriation* by the
I'm not sure one does. Did Native Mexicans "diffuse"
tacos to Chi-Chi's, or did Chi-Chi's just
"appropriate" them? At some point, somebody who knew
how to make tacos offered one to somebody who didn't
know how to make tacos.

>And assimilation of ideas or technologies does not
>indicate assimilation of the original bearers of those ideas -- maize
>agriculture is a prime example.

>Europeans, particularly the English, had very strict constructs of
>*racial identity*, and so most *racial mingling* was most likely to
>occur among the *outlivers*, Europeans who lived on the fringes of
>Euro-American society. Most Early Colonial archaeologists that I've
>run across are more interested in *traditional* Euro-American culture,
>and thus, until the lifeways of *outlivers* are more fully understood,
>exploring how such lifeways were altered by contact with Indians cannot
>be properly conducted.
That's too bad, then, because I think outlivers can play
a major role in the development of societies and deserve
to be understood.

>>Two-way diffusion
>>at a real social frontier is to be expected.
Because human beings in contact interact unless
there are reasons not to.

>(And was the American East Coast a *social frontier*, or a point
>of aggressive invasion?)
Both, surely? Whenever whites and Indians occupied
the same neighborhood as neighbors rather than as
foes (a state that has arisen continuously on this
continent in various places, and still occurs today),
that's what I'd call a social frontier. Things
happen when you sell a mule to a neighbor or borrow
a bucket of cornmeal.

>MB Williams
>Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst
Tony West