Robert Michael Morrissey, "People of the Ecotone: Environment and Indigenous Power at the Center of Early America" (U Washington Press, 2022)

Summary

By putting the Midwest at the center of Vast Early America, University of Illinois historian Robert Morrissey reconfigures the power dynamics in the story of North America during the era of colonialism. In his award-winning People of the Ecotone: Environment and Indigenous Power at the Center of Early America (U Washington Press, 2022), Morrissey tells a story that centers the edge - the places where the vast American prairies meet the forests of the Great Lakes. This "ecotone" region is a zone of environmental wealth and dynamism, where successive Native societies were able to build powerful societies based on an understanding of the region's ecologies. Rather than European empires of eastern Native people like the Iroquois acting upon people at the center of the continent, Morrissey centers the Meskwaki, the Illiniwek, and other groups usually kept at the margins of the story. By combining ethnohistory, environmental history, and colonial history, People of the Ecotone tells a genuinely new story that shifts our perspective of who and what matters in early American history in unexpected ways.

Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and is the Assistant Director of the American Society for Environmental History.

Your Host

Stephen Hausmann

Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and is the Acting Executive Director of the American Society for Environmental History.

View Profile