James Adair wrote this work which is the paramount example of eighteenth century anthropological scholarship on the Native Americans in the South Eastern area of the USA. The History of the American Indians, Particularly Those Nations Adjoining to the Missisippi, East and West Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, and Virginia is an ethnocultural review of the historical practices of several tribes including the Catawba, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. The book centres on Adair's lifetime of experiences. He draws from his decades long work as a trader, entwined with the Southeastern tribes, selling deerskins.
Adair recalls joining the deerskin trade in 1735, briefly trading with the Catawba tribe however he swiftly changed his pattern to dealing primarily with the Cherokee and the Chickasaw people where trade was more lucrative.
Adair's work as a trader and on behalf of South Carolina would make him worthy of history s notice alone, but it is this book that truly distinguishes him from his contemporaries. Originally drafted as an outline of events according to his opinion, to bolster his reputation and expose the hypocrisy of his commercial and political enemies, by the time it was published it had become a nuanced assessment of the native people of what is now the southern part of the Unites States of America.
The work outlines major developments across the mid part of the eighteenth century from the perspective of a man on the fringe of society. Adair gives us information on settlement patterns and land grants in his wider area as well as his assessment of British policy towards the American tribes. This history is on the forefront of those engaging with the question of the treatment of the Native American people, but any reader will gain much more than that from its pages.
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