Melissa Otis’s book Rural Indigenousness: A History of Iroquoian and Algonquian Peoples of the Adirondacks (Syracuse University Press, 2018) takes a look at indigenous and settler interactions in the Adirondacks.
The Adirondacks have been a homeland for Indigenous people for millennia. The presence of Native people in the region was obvious, but not well documented by Europeans who did not venture into the interior between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Otis’s Rural Indigenousness is a more comprehensive study of the relationship between Native Americans and the Adirondacks than we have seen to date. It shines a light on the rich history of Algonquian and Iroquoian people in the region and explores a variety of Native American experiences.
While Otis focuses on the nineteenth century, she extends her analysis to periods before and after this era, revealing continuity and change over time. Rural Indigenousness also places this history into the context of more familiar Adirondack themes, with ample discussion of the historiography.
Drawing upon archival research, material culture, and oral histories, Melissa Otis examines the nature of Indigenous populations living in predominantly Euroamerican Adirondack communities to identify the ways in which some maintained their distinct identity while also making selective adaptations exemplifying the concept of “survivance.”
Melissa Otis holds a PhD in history of education from the University of Toronto.
Books noticed on the Adirondack Almanack have been provided by their publishers.