RED SHADOWS: The History of Native Americans from 1600 to 1900, From the Atlantic Coast to the Plains by Dan Georgakas
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RED SHADOWS: The History of Native Americans from 1600 to 1900, From the Atlantic Coast to the Plains

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Wherever possible. . ."" promises Georgakas, ""words and expressions of the Native Americans will be used to express their vision,"" and thus he signals his break with the custom of chronicling the Indian solely as the object and victim of white actions. The visionary but ultimately futile efforts of great leaders like Tecumseh, who attempted to adapt Indian methods of warfare and impose political unity to deal with the white challenge, make up the most powerful chapters in Georgakas' narrative. But he also outlines the ways in which each tribe's responses to European encroachment grew out of its own culture, and gives equal weight to purely internal developments in Native American history, such as the formation of the Iroquois League and the rise of the Seminoles. Georgakas never romanticizes the unpleasant aspects of Indian culture -- Iroquois torture, the inferior status of women among the Sioux, the Apache's fondness for raiding and drink -- but his sensitive appraisals capture the spirit of each successive culture, so that one emerges with a palpable sense of the great differences among the dream-seeking Sioux, poetic Pueblos, practical, democratic Cherokees and the acquisitive potlatch givers of the Northwest (""like some cartoon burlesque of a striver they [the Yurok] would awake at night, shouting to the spirits that they wanted to be rich""). A final chapter on the largely unknown California Indians communicates the greatest sense of tragedy -- and the insights throughout into how and why Native Americans misunderstood the white man's belief in personal power and unwillingness to accommodate give unity to this unusual, remarkably readable, survey.

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1973
Publisher: Doubleday (Zenith)