When I learned there were none, I impetuously decided to try my hand at the topic.
Introduction to the Bicentennial Edition Preface Acknowledgments 1. Until that time much Native American history centered on federal Indian policy and formal tribal histories. C., and the principal actors were bureaucrats, soldiers, missionaries, and white settlers.
While some scholars centered their attention on African Americans and Asian Americans, others probed the complexities of Native American cultures and communities.
Beginning in the 1960s many historians and other scholars were deeply involved in a comprehensive reevaluation of race in the American experience.
was sparked by reading what John Allen wrote about geographic exploration, but the book also developed at a unique time in the writing of American history.
But a different approach—something called ethnohistory—offered a new way to tell old stories.
Inspired by the shared perspectives of history and anthropology, ethnohistorians expanded the field of inquiry, asked fresh questions, paid attention to often-neglected native sources, and listened carefully to Indian voices.
Throughout the 1970s the ethnohistory I wrote described native people, Christian missionaries, and the changes sweeping throughout the colonial Northeast.
In retrospect that work—so far from the Native American West of Lewis and Clark—prepared me to ask new questions about the larger western exploration story.
As I wrote in the preface to this book, what captured my imagination was the possibility of writing "exploration ethnohistory." was never identified with what became known as the "New Western History," the book was undoubtedly influenced by reading and listening to Patricia Nelson Limerick, Bill Cronon, Richard White, and Donald Worster.