Blending an engaging narrative style with broader theoretical considerations, James Taylor Carson offers the most complete history to date of the Mississippi Choctaws. Tracing the Choctaws from their origins in the Mississippian cultures of late prehistory to the early nineteenth century, Carson shows how the Choctaws struggled to adapt to life in a New World altered radically by contact while retaining their sense of identity and place. Despite changes in subsistence practices and material culture, the Choctaws made every effort to retain certain core cultural beliefs and sensibilities, a strategy they conceived of as following “the straight bright path.” This work also makes a significant theoretical contribution to ethnohistory as Carson confronts common problems in the historical analysis of Native peoples.
James Taylor Carson is an associate professor of history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
“A model of clarity and concision.” —William and Mary Quarterly
“Carson provides an unusually balanced and nuanced interpretation of the Choctaws’ experience from prehistoric times to the removal from their homeland that began in 1830. . . . This study offers an important corrective to what has been an oversimplified historical picture.”—Canadian Journal of History
“The genius of the work is the author’s ability to weave the account of Choctaw history around major themes in Choctaw tradition, or what he calls ‘moral economy.’ . . . It also provides valuable new insights into the dynamics of culture and historical change.”—The Journal of Southern History