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

Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 14:09 hrs. ISBN 9780593608494. $22.50. HIST
Bancroft Prize winner Hyde (history, Univ. of Oklahoma; Empires, Nations, and Families) highlights a little-discussed group of mixed-descent people in the Americas whose dual heritage allowed them to bridge boundaries between Indigenous peoples and European colonizers for generations. She writes that in the earliest days of contact between Indigenous Americans and European settlers, Native peoples—Ojibwes, Otoes, Cheyennes, Chinooks, and others—viewed intermarriage as a means of creating bonds and social obligations between groups. Children produced from these unions provided links of kinship that cemented alliances and garnered cooperation. Early European settlers sought marriage into Indigenous nations in order to secure the familial ties that created trust, cooperation, and trade. With the wealth created by successful trading, the children of these unions could receive Western educations in the U.S. or Europe, while kinship links and obligations maintained their ties to Indigeneity as well, Hyde argues. This first generation of children gained positions of responsibility and trust linking European and Indigenous American worlds, and their own intermarriages continued this process until more European settlers flooded into the Americas, upsetting that balance. Narrator Tanis Parenteau navigates the many names, tribes, cultures, and time periods, making Hyde’s narrative come alive.
VERDICT Recommended for all collections.
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