Introduction: What is the “Anthropology” of “American Indians”?
The reader who picks up this book would certainly be justified in assuming that the meaning of the terms “anthropology” and “American Indians” is more or less clear. After all, why publish a Blackwell Companion composed of state-of-the-art summaries written by respected scholars if the boundaries or content of the discipline or the subject matter are not self-evident and agreed upon? But this book is conceived in a different intellectual spirit, because both anthropology and the topic of American Indians must be understood historically and conceptually as “moving targets.” That is, both anthropology and the category of American Indians are phenomena that are in the process of change and, perhaps, transformation - as they have been since their initial appearance. The proposition that the category “American Indians” is not a stable object for purposes of study might seem like an odd notion. Have there not, after all, been peoples indigenous to the Americas since long before anthropology was invented, and are not many of these indigenous peoples still here? And does not being Indian (or not) make a profound difference in people's lives? Of course: there is no question that “Indian” matters very much in the real world. But who do we include in the category when we set out to do anthropology? All people indigenous to the New World (as, for example, the International Indian Treaty ... log in or subscribe to read full text
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