Andrew Newman

On Records

Delaware Indians, Colonists, and the Media of History and Memory

University of Nebraska Press 2012

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Native American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network April 1, 2013 Andrew Epstein

Can the spoken word be a reliable record of past events? For many Native people, the answer is unequivocally affirmative. Histories of family, tribe,...

Can the spoken word be a reliable record of past events?

For many Native people, the answer is unequivocally affirmative. Histories of family, tribe, and nation, narratives of origin and migration, foodways and ceremonies, and the provisions of countless treaties have been passed down through successive generations without written documents. The colonizing society has maintained a starkly different view, elevating the written word to a position of authority and dismissing the authenticity of oral tradition. Are these two views irreconcilable?

Exploring the contested memorialization of four controversial episodes in the history of the Delaware (or Lenape) Indians’ encounter with settlers, Andrew Newman finds unexpected connections between colonial documents, recorded oral traditions, and material culture. On Records: Delaware Indians, Colonists, and the Media of History and Memory (University of Nebraska Press, 2012) is a thoughtful meditation on how we know the past.

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