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Native American Taste: Re-evaluating the Gift-Commodity Debate in the British Colonial Southeast

Native American Taste: Re-evaluating the Gift-Commodity Debate in the British Colonial Southeast Native American Taste Re-evaluating the Gift-Commodity Debate in the British Colonial Southeast jessica stern Historians have acknowledged that southeastern Native Americans were picky consumers of European goods. "Indians were eager customers, not slaves to imported fashion," James Merrell concluded in his 1989 study of the Catawba.1 Kathleen Braund concurred, stating that the Creek were "very specific about what they needed and wanted in exchange for their deerskins."2 But the evidence supporting these claims is episodic. In trying to systematically construct southeastern Indian taste, scholars are left with a frustrating gap in the sources. The most robust and accessible body of British sources, the South Carolina Journals of the Commissioners of the Indian Trade (1710­1718) and the Documents Relating to Indian Affairs (1750­1765), frequently mention account books that governmental boards collected from traders working for the public Indian trade, but these account books remain missing. While scholars of the Hudson's Bay region have been able to use the Hudson Bay Company's copious financial records to understand the purchasing habits of the Cree, Assiniboine, Chipewyan, and other nearby Native Americans, revealing a population of savvy shoppers who understood the market system, southeastern Indians have received no similar treatment.3 In fact, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Native South University of Nebraska Press

Native American Taste: Re-evaluating the Gift-Commodity Debate in the British Colonial Southeast

Native South , Volume 5 (1) – Aug 19, 2012

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University of Nebraska Press
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Copyright © University of Nebraska Press
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2152-4025
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Abstract

Native American Taste Re-evaluating the Gift-Commodity Debate in the British Colonial Southeast jessica stern Historians have acknowledged that southeastern Native Americans were picky consumers of European goods. "Indians were eager customers, not slaves to imported fashion," James Merrell concluded in his 1989 study of the Catawba.1 Kathleen Braund concurred, stating that the Creek were "very specific about what they needed and wanted in exchange for their deerskins."2 But the evidence supporting these claims is episodic. In trying to systematically construct southeastern Indian taste, scholars are left with a frustrating gap in the sources. The most robust and accessible body of British sources, the South Carolina Journals of the Commissioners of the Indian Trade (1710­1718) and the Documents Relating to Indian Affairs (1750­1765), frequently mention account books that governmental boards collected from traders working for the public Indian trade, but these account books remain missing. While scholars of the Hudson's Bay region have been able to use the Hudson Bay Company's copious financial records to understand the purchasing habits of the Cree, Assiniboine, Chipewyan, and other nearby Native Americans, revealing a population of savvy shoppers who understood the market system, southeastern Indians have received no similar treatment.3 In fact,

Journal

Native SouthUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Aug 19, 2012

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