DuVal boldly begins in the introduction by calling into question the concept of the Great Plains as a “middle ground” proposed by historian Richard White. This concept treats the interactions of the Europeans and the natives as an amalgamation of different accommodations with no group gaining significant ground. More importantly the concept of a middle ground is predicated on the natives wanting to compromise or be assimilated into Western culture. DuVal’s book shows that this idea of the region is simply not true because of the heavy dominance of the natives. DuVal uses the term “native ground” in place of middle ground to emphasize the point that all groups roaming the Arkansas River Valley believed to be the true natives of the region. This narrative employed by the natives, and then later the Europeans, helped establish legitimacy and cement power among other groups. DuVal’s first subjects are the chiefdom tribes along the Mississippi River and the Spanish Empire. This section of the book really shows the swing the native t...
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...ts causing mayhem. Vu Dal surprise readers by show how Osage view other tribes as savage, a term normal used by Europeans. The strategic placement of the Osage as being most civilized of the regional tribe was a huge advantage among the Europeans who valued such things.
Native Ground is a groundbreaking study that tries to establish a new framework to view colonial history. I feel that Du Vul does a wonderful job creating a successful argument of how the idea of a middle ground is just not valid when the Indians had such a large sphere of influence. In the end native groups would still fall to encroachment by Americans that did not understand or respect their way of life. Unfortunately, even with this new framework the outcome is still the same, the destruction of powerful culture and proud people by a group that know perceives itself a the native people.
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