Malinche, Pocahontas, and Sacagawea: Indian Women as Cultural Intermediaries and National Symbols

Univ. of Oklahoma. Oct. 2015. 368p. 9780806148519. HIST
Jager (history, Univ. of Idaho) puts forth a strong case that Native American women frequently served as significant diplomatic intermediaries during frontier negotiations with Europeans. To emphasize the author's argument, three prominent native women are shown to have served in such roles: Malinche (1505–29), Pocahontas (1595–1617), and Sacagawea (1788–1812). Malinche, of noble Aztec heritage, assisted Hernán Cortés in his conquest of Mexico in the early 1500s. Pocahontas, of the Powhatans of the Virginia coastal region, aided relations with English colonists in the early 1600s. Sacagawea, of the Shoshone, helped guide the Lewis and Clark expedition across the Louisiana Purchase lands in the early 1800s. The three biographies collectively epitomize the complex roles of many other women in traditional Native American diplomacy. Jager never loses sight of her thesis that women should be recognized and respected as key players in such diplomacy, a view often missing in Euro-American male historic accounts. Her thorough literature review makes this volume a useful new starting point for additional research.
VERDICT Highly recommended for both the biographical information and the extended historical discussions of the women's legendary growth into national symbols.
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