Reference Books

CHRONOLOGY OF NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN HISTORY; ed. Duane Champagne, Gale Research Inc., 835 Penobscot Bldg., Detroit, MI 48224, (800) 877-GALE (4253), 574 pages, 170 illustrations. $59.95.

Ten chapters chronologically arranged, each written by a leading scholar. Canadian as well as U.S. history is covered. Events are reported in paragraph summaries by date from 1500 to 1994. Thumbnails of important historical documents, from the British Royal Proclamation of 1763 (requiring treaties to be made with all tribes) to important Supreme court decisions in 1990. Thumbnail bios of Native orators (mostly 19th century). Tribal chronologies. Includes excerpts from Native speeches and important historical documents. This comprehensive reference chronicles Native existence before and after the Europeans came, covering issues and events affecting indigenous peoples of the U.S. and Canada. There are tribal chronologies, and a keyword index. Its design is to provide guides and indexes so readers seeking info on important people and events can quickly find them using a variety of location tools. Its main focus is events of recent history--late 19th and 20th centuries. Though there is some overlap with the Gale Almanac, this book's focus on more recent political events treated in detail makes it supplementary to, not a duplication of the longer reference work.

An overview chronologically-organized essay on North American historical developments, containing a timeline of world events places smaller developments in perspective. To me, the most useful part has been the longest part of the book, the 19th and 20th century chronology. Excellent, clear paragraph-sized summaries of complex events makes it possible to follow the development of something through a succession of key dates. In many cases, I simply wanted to find something whose date I had a rough idea of or none at all. The main index is quite adequate for this. The short summarizes for each key date pack in an amazing amount of info, clearly written. The task of correlating event sequences, preparing the summaries and cross- references is awesome.

Chronology is an absolutely indispensable reference that should be in every school, college and university library, on the reference shelves of every Native periodical. It belongs in the personal libraries of anyone who does any kind of research or writing about Native people. Compiling it is an awesome task, not likely to be undertaken successfully except with major resources of a publisher who has -- like Gale -- put togethr a huge team of qualified Native scholars to produce an 8-foot shelf of referenc works on Native people. I hope that supplements will be issued every few years.

It's not perfect. I found a few important key event-dates to be missing, many of these concerning environmentally-relevant events such as the Garrison diversion and lawsuits pertaining to dams flooding Native lands in North and South Dakota, which should be corrected when a second edition is done. Events of the 1980's in Canada, especially where there was a great deal of tribal activism in British Columbia, are also rather spottily covered. What is most surprising to me is that when I "read" chapters of the chronlogy, I got amazing overviews of the contextual history of brief periods, in a way not to be found in text essay-type treatments.

Reviewed by Paula Giese

File: r906

Purchase this book now from
Your book purchases support this web site.


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

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