Cover image for First peoples, first contacts : native peoples of North America
First peoples, first contacts : native peoples of North America
King, J. C. H. (Jonathan C. H.)
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
288 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 26 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E77 .K56 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



From the Big-Game Hunters who appeared on the continent as far back as 12,000 years ago to the Inuits plying the Alaskan waters today, the Native peoples of North America produced a culture remarkable for its vibrancy, breadth, and diversity--and for its survival in the face of almost inconceivable trials. This book is at once a history of that culture and a celebration of its splendid variety. Rich in historical testimony and anecdotes and lavishly illustrated, it weaves a magnificent tapestry of Native American life reaching back to the earliest human records. A recognized expert in North American studies, Jonathan King interweaves his account with Native histories, from the arrival of the first Native Americans by way of what is now Alaska to their later encounters with Europeans on the continent's opposite coast, from their exchanges with fur traders to their confrontations with settlers and an ever more voracious American government. To illustrate this history, King draws on the extensive collections of the British Museum--artwork, clothing, tools, and artifacts that demonstrate the wealth of ancient traditions as well as the vitality of contemporary Native culture. These illustrations, all described in detail, form a pictorial document of relations between Europeans and Native American peoples--peoples as profoundly different and as deeply related as the Algonquians and the Iroquois, the Chumash of California and the Inuipat of Alaska, the Cree and the Cherokee--from their first contact to their complicated coexistence today.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

King's book is a very attractive and well-presented catalog/text "written to coincide with the introductory display of the British Museum's collection in the Chase Manhattan Gallery of North America." For more than two centuries the British Museum has been a major repository for historical and cultural artifacts from cultures throughout the world. The 298 photos, drawings, and illustrations from the collection provide wonderful insights into the material cultures of native peoples residing north of the Rio Grande river in North America throughout the extensive periods of exploration. In addition there is an awareness of the contemporary trend toward tribal name changes by indigenous peoples. The historical information includes fascinating observations by non-Indians of their experiences and reactions on first contact. The grouping of tribes by geographical regions with somewhat similar ecological and historical conditions has been a common practice. The bibliography of 136 additional works is valuable. This catalog could serve as a fine text for introductory courses on Native Americans. All levels. N. C. Greenberg; Museum of Indian Arts & Culture