Article

American Indian Wars

Robert Wooster

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online February 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0010
American Indian Wars

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Reflecting the society and culture in which they lived, early writers tended to portray the American Indian wars—defined here as military contests between indigenous peoples and Europeans and their descendants in the present United States from the founding of Jamestown to the end of the 19th century—as pitting “civilized” whites against “savage” Indians. Thus, many older works, which viewed those conflicts almost solely from the perspective of the invaders, appear biased and incomplete to the modern eye. Recent studies strive for better balance and grant Indians the agency to seek to determine their own destinies. Essentially, modern scholarship on these wars falls into several categories. Traditional operational histories, which offer detailed examinations of leaders, troop movements, battles, and logistics, remain a significant part of the literature. A second approach, different in emphasis but similar in its familiarity to military historians, focuses on questions of doctrine, tactics, and methods of making war. Still others place less weight on politics and more on culture, seeing wars and military institutions as reflecting a society’s values. Notions of identity, state-building, and colonialism feature prominently in such scholarship. Finally, research on the American Indian wars encompasses much multidisciplinary work, with archaeology and cultural anthropology offering important insights into how and why different peoples made war. The very best studies, of course, strive to blend each approach into a more compelling whole.

Article.  9292 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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