Appalachia’s Borderland Brokers: The Intersection of Kinship, Diplomacy, and Trade on the Trans-montane Backcountry, 1600-1800
This paper and accompanying historical argument builds upon the presentation I made at last year’s Ohio Valley History Conference held at Western Kentucky University. In that presentation, I argued that preindustrial Appalachia was a complex and dynamic borderland region in which disparate Amerindian groups and Euroamericans engaged in a wide-range of cultural, political, economic, and familial interactions. I challenged the Turnerian frontier model that characterized the North American backcountry as a steadily retreating “fall line” separating the savagery of Amerindian existence and the epidemic civility of Anglo-America. On the Turnerian frontier, Anglo-American culture washed over the Appalachian and Native American backcountry in a wave of forced acculturation rendering resistance futile and communities and cultures transformed; or in Frederick Jackson Turner’s own words, “Moving westward, the frontier became more and more American.” Building upon Herbert Eugene Bolton’s “borderland model” and the work of “new Western and new Indian historians” such as Stephen Aron, James F. Brooks, David Weber, and Richard White, I presented a competing interpretation of the Appalachian backcountry. I argued that instead of a region thrust into chaos and confusion by forced Euroamerican acculturation, land hunger, and imperial warfare; Appalachia was a complicated “mixing zone,” a “middle ground” in which Amerindian and Euroamerican nations not only warred, but accommodated, negotiated, and cooperated.
Barksdale, Kevin T. "Appalachia’s Borderland Brokers: The Int." Ohio Valley History Conference. Clarksville, TN. Oct. 2008. Address.
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Talk delivered at the 2008 Ohio Valley History Conference, Clarksville, TN in October, 2008 ** (Please do not quote or cite without permission)