From the Big-Game Hunters who appeared on the continent as far back as 12,000 years ago to the Inuits plying the Alaskan waters today, the Native peoples of North America produced a culture remarkable for its vibrancy, breadth, and diversity—and for its survival in the face of almost inconceivable trials. This book is at once a history of that culture and a celebration of its splendid variety. Rich in historical testimony and anecdotes and lavishly illustrated, it weaves a magnificent tapestry of Native American life reaching back to the earliest human records.
A recognized expert in North American studies, Jonathan King interweaves his account with Native histories, from the arrival of the first Native Americans by way of what is now Alaska to their later encounters with Europeans on the continent’s opposite coast, from their exchanges with fur traders to their confrontations with settlers and an ever more voracious American government. To illustrate this history, King draws on the extensive collections of the British Museum—artwork, clothing, tools, and artifacts that demonstrate the wealth of ancient traditions as well as the vitality of contemporary Native culture. These illustrations, all described in detail, form a pictorial document of relations between Europeans and Native American peoples—peoples as profoundly different and as deeply related as the Algonquians and the Iroquois, the Chumash of California and the Inuipat of Alaska, the Cree and the Cherokee—from their first contact to their complicated coexistence today.