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Becoming Catawba : Catawba women and nation-building, 1540-1840  Cover Image Book Book

Becoming Catawba : Catawba women and nation-building, 1540-1840

Bauer, Brooke M. (author.).

Summary: "Brooke M. Bauer's 'Becoming Catawba: Catawba Women and Nation-Building, 1540-1840' is the first book-length study of the role Catawba women played in creating and preserving a cohesive tribal identity over three centuries of colonization and cultural turmoil. Emerging from distinct ancestral groups who shared a family of languages and lived in the Piedmont region of what would become the Carolinas, the Yę Iswą-the People of the River, or Catawba-coalesced over centuries of catastrophic disruption and traumatic adaptation into, first, a confederacy of Piedmont Indians and eventually the Catawba nation. Bauer, a member of the Catawba Indian Nation of South Carolina, employs the Catawba language and traditions in conjunction with a diverse array of historical materials and archaeological data to explore Catawba history from within, where matrilineal kinship systems, land use customs, and pottery informed women's traditional authority in coalition with their male counterparts. 'Becoming Catawba' examines the lives and legacies of women who executed complex decision-making and diplomacy to navigate shifting frameworks of kinship, land ownership, and cultural production in dealings with colonial encroachments, white settlers, and Euro-American legal systems and governments from the mid-sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century. Personified in the figure of Sally New River, a Catawba leader to whom 500 remaining acres of occupied tribal lands were deeded on behalf of the community in 1796 and which she managed until her death in 1821, Bauer reveals how women worked to ensure the survival of the Catawba people and their Catawba identity, an effort that resulted in a unified nation. Bauer's approach is primarily ethnohistorical, although it draws on a number of interdisciplinary strategies. In particular, Bauer uses 'upstreaming,' a critical strategy that moves towards the period under study by using present-day community members' connections to historical knowledge-for example, family histories and oral traditions-to interpret primary-source data. Additionally, Bauer employs archaeological data and material culture as a means of performing feminist recuperation, filling the gaps and silences left by the records, newspapers, and historical accounts as primarily written by and for white men. This strategy functions in tandem with Bauer's use of the Catawba language to provide a window into Catawba identity, politics, and worldviews, and thus to decolonize Southern history. Both approaches work to decenter the experiences of the mostly male, mostly white people who dominate the histories of the period under study, allowing Bauer to foreground the concerns of Catawba women and their foremothers in the history of the region. Existing histories of the Catawba-and the Southeastern Indians in general-tend not to discuss women much at all, focusing instead on the traditionally male-dominated political and military interactions between Native men and European colonizers. Although there are book-length archaeological studies of the Catawba that engage with women's roles and activities, none of these assign agency or operate within a temporal frame as broad as Bauer's. The historical scope of 'Becoming Catawba' allows Bauer to demonstrate the evolving tensions between cultural change and continuity that the Catawba were forced to navigate, and to bring greater nuance to the examination of the shifting relationship between gender and power that lies at the core of the book. Ultimately, 'Becoming Catawba' effects a welcome intervention at the intersections of Native, women's, and Southern history, expanding the diversity and modes of experience in the fraught, multifaceted cultural environment of the early American South"--

Record details

  • ISBN: 0817321438 (hardcover)
  • ISBN: 9780817321437 (hardcover)
  • Physical Description: xvi, 245 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm.
  • Publisher: Tuscaloosa : The University of Alabama Press, [2023]

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Subject: Catawba Indians History
Siouan women Catawba River Valley (N.C. and S.C.) History
Catawba Indians Land tenure
Catawba Indians Kinship
Catawba language
Catawba pottery
Catawba Indians
Catawba Indians Land tenure
Catawba language
Catawba pottery
Siouan women
United States Catawba River Valley
Genre: History.

Available copies

  • 2 of 2 copies available at State Library of Alabama.


  • 0 current holds with 2 total copies.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
APLS 975.0049 BAU 2023 31291002957635 ALABAMA Available -
APLS 975.0049 BAU 2023 31291002957643 ALABAMA Available -

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