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By Steven Conn

Who have been the local american citizens? the place did they arrive from and the way some time past? Did they've got a background, and could they've got a destiny? Questions comparable to those ruled highbrow lifestyles within the usa throughout the 19th century. And for lots of americans, such questions about the unique population in their place of birth encouraged a flurry of old research, medical inquiry, and heated political debate.

History's Shadow strains the fight of american citizens attempting to comprehend the folk who initially occupied the continent claimed as their very own. Steven Conn considers how the query of the Indian forced american citizens to desert older explanatory frameworks for sovereignty just like the Bible and classical literature and as a substitute enhance new ones. via their engagement with local American language and tradition, American intellectuals contributed to shaping and outline the rising fields of archaeology, ethnology, linguistics, and paintings. yet extra vital, the questions posed by means of the presence of the Indian within the usa pressured american citizens to confront the that means of historical past itself, either that of local american citizens and their very own: the way it might be studied, what drove its tactics, and the place it might probably finally lead. The come across with local american citizens, Conn argues, helped supply upward thrust to a especially American ancient consciousness.

A paintings of large scope and mind, History's Shadow will converse to somebody attracted to local americans and their profound impact on our cultural imagination.

History’s Shadow is an clever and complete examine where of local americans in Euro-American’s highbrow heritage. . . . interpreting literature, portray, images, ethnology, and anthropology, Conn mines the written list to find how non-Native americans thought of Indians.” —Joy S. Kasson, Los Angeles occasions

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Extra info for History's Shadow: Native Americans and Historical Consciousness in the Nineteenth Century

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V. Hayden echoed the now familiar historical conundrum when he wrote, “Among people where no written records exist, and whose only method of preserving their national histories is oral tradi-  [           tion . . ” But he went on to be quite specific: “In regard to the Crees, all appears obscure farther back than . . ”44 If Indians were to have any history at all, they would require as their champions interlocutors like John Heckewelder. Indians in the nineteenth century told their own history to be sure, though in ways that went largely unrecognized and misunderstood by white Americans.

46 Indeed, “myth” as a term came into common usage only in the early nineteenth century. 47 Thus the modern conception of myth and the modern practice of history may well have grown up as mirror images of each other. In the United States, at least, the process of removing Native Americans from the realm of history helped define what was meant by myth. In fact, as this book illustrates, in the early years of the nineteenth century history de-                               ,    ]  veloped in relation to several other fields.

History painting, as it matured in the eighteenth century, was not merely the practice of transcribing historical events in paint. It was a genre that followed its own set of rules, codified most importantly in the AngloAmerican world by British painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. Grand manner history painting in the eighteenth century attempted to weave together the heroism of individuals with universal moral messages embodied by those individuals at particular moments—specific scenes illustrating eternal truths.

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