Winter 2024 TAH Issue: Rethinking Encounters

February 19, 2024

The first issue OAH’s U.S. History at 250 series, the winter 2024 issue of The American Historian, “Rethinking Encounters,” is now available. As part of OAH’s U.S. History at 250 project, the TAH is publishing a nine-issue series focusing on U.S. history from colonial contact to the present, in the run-up to the Semiquincentennial in 2026. The “Rethinking Encounters” issue features four essays on rethinking encounters between Europeans and Indigenous groups, framed by an introductory essay by Christine DeLucia

Alejandra Dubcovsky encourages historians to focus on the agency Indigenous peoples had during initial encounters and to pay especially close attention to the leadership role indigenous women played in those encounters. Denise I. Bossy focuses on how the problematic nature of “historical firstings”—for example, where the first Spanish or French colonies were built—that often leaves out the crucial role Indigenous groups played in these settlements. The essay also discusses how the use of digital humanities can help bring these forgotten histories to life. Tai S. Edwards talks about colonization and disease in Indigenous North America and demonstrates that the common notion that disease “spread like wildfire” among Indigenous groups is incorrect. Instead, the colonization process was initially much more destructive to Native groups, who, as a result of their weakened state due to European colonization, then experienced disease. In the final essay, Michael Witgen discusses how early European settlers of the Northwest Territory were unable to imagine that the area was homeland to a multitude of sovereign Indigenous nations. As such, they viewed the territory as unsettled wilderness, ready to be “settled” by Europeans, thus displacing Indigenous groups who had lived there for centuries.

The issue also includes articles on engagement with K-12 educators, OAH News, and OAH President Anthea Hartig’s final President’s Column. 

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