Reference Books

ATLAS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN, Carl Waldman and Molly Braun-Waldman, Facts On File Publications, 460 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10016; 800-4443-8323, and Oxford, England, 1985. 9 x 12 hardbound, $35. 276 pp, index, list of U.S. and state recognized tribes and Canadian recognized Bands, chronology of historical events (U.S. and Canadian).0-87196-850-9

This is the Atlas every school (college and university) library should have. Most classroom teachers and all who asssume the resonsibility of any kind of Native American studies should have it. Although it has a good deal of Canadian material and maps, I am less certain how well it compares to Native atlas sources that might be available from Canadian publishers, lacking such comparisons, I can still say it is a fine source for those educators who wish to give an indignous overview perspective.

As to be expected in an atlas, maps are the heart of the visual presentations of data. These maps are black outlines and hatchings, most often on brownish colored ground. All except for a few big 2-page spreads will photocopy all right for class handouts (though white backgrounds would have been preferable). They are well labeled. Braun, a former real-property cartographer, has followed (and used many of the maps from) the classic renditions of Massey and Driver, to present physiographic features and cultural technologies of the pre-contact cultures. (The Massey-Driver maps are the only ones that are credited to a source, though I recognized sources for most of the others.) She reproduces only a few old maps, and those mostly for illustration. The analytic maps are clear, accurate outlines, and include (for the U.S.) present-day reservations, land claims (U.S. claims commission), cessions, and many maps summarizing historical and cultural data. For Canada, maps show all treaties in outline, but for present-day settlements, there is only the INAC/DIAND mess of some 3,000 specks, without even the numbers that correlate these with some 600 bands. Canadian Reserve maps are still wanting.

In addition to maps and many black-and-white illustrations, a text divided into 7 chapters gives coherence to the histories and cultures. Chapter 1 covers very ancient times, prehistoric and (in the Beringia theory) conbtroversial among some of today's Natives who want to reject all migration theories in favor of cultural-religious accounts of tribal origins. This section is marred by uncritical acceptance of "Sandia man" now widely (and with many good reasons) regarded as an academic hoax. Ancient Civilizations covers those of Meso America, the southwest, and the Adena-Hopewell-Mississippian mound builders. Missing: Inuit-circumpolar. Chapter 3 is pre-contact culture areas, which examines lifeways, population density (noting the controversy there), and how art, technology, transportation, shelter, etc. grew in relation to the physical conditions of the various areas. Chapter 4 deals with early contacts, primarily in North America, concentrating on the fur trade. (Mexico and cultures south are abandoned at this point.) Chapter 5 deals with Indian wars, from the Powhattan wars in what's now the U.S. through the Riel rebellions in late 19th-century Canada. Land cessions are covered in chapter 6. Chapter 7 covers concemporary Indian peoples in the U.S. and Canada, and includes interesting map-based analyses of Indian activism, that unfortunately omit the long struggle of Taos pueblo, and the effects of th Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. A 50-page appendix gives a brief chornology of important events, listings of tribs and bands of the U.S. and Canada with both historic and contemporary locations, a listing of places with Native names (U.S. and Canada), and a listing of museums and archaeological sites in both countries. A short (2-page) bibliography and an inadequate index complete the work, whose usefulness would have been greatly improved by a "table of descriptions" for all the maps, as well as sources for all of them.

Maps are catregorized by the authors as Historical, Military, Cultural, Contmporary, and Period, but the physiographic maps of Driver and Massey form a category themselves, and the maps are not tabulated or described except in their captions. Waldeman, the principal author, is former archivist for the New York State Historical Association, an amateur historian, and his wife is more an illustrator than a professional cartographer. Nonetheless, until a fully-professional native atlas is done -- a project which requires a large team of highly skilled workers and expensive technology -- this is the best one available. An essential purchase for all Native schools and libraries. If this book is reprinted, the publisher should screen down the background color of all maps to a much paler tan or omit color altogethr, so maps can be photocopied for handouts without obscuring the small type. Reviewed by Paula Giese

File: r905

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Friday, April 19, 1996 - 5:52:16 AM