Born of Lakes and Plains: Mixed-Descent Peoples and the Making of the American West

Norton. Feb. 2022. 480p. ISBN 9780393634099. $40. HIST
Award-winning historian Hyde (Univ. of Oklahoma; Empires, Nations, and Families) weaves a fascinating history of Indigenous peoples in North America and the people with whom they traded, clashed, and created families. Five mixed-descent families form the core of the book. The McKay family, of Anglo, Cree, Chinook, and Cayuse descent in the Pacific Northwest; the Johnson and Schoolcraft families in the Great Lakes region; the Drips and Fontenelle families, of Anglo, Otoe, and Omaha descent, who expanded their fur business along the Platte River and into the Rocky Mountains; and the Bent family of Anglo and Cheyenne descent, including William Bent, whose fort along the Arkansas River operated for decades. As Hyde expertly tells, these families and their descendants are often overlooked in history and their lives were greatly impacted by federal policy relating to Indigenous peoples. The book includes extensive maps that show trade routes, military forts, and European settlements in what the author refers to as “Native North America” (present-day United States and Canada), particularly the Missouri River region.
VERDICT By focusing on families, Hyde has made this history relatable and personal. The engaging narrative is highly recommended for all biography and history collections.
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