Native American Women and the Burdens of Southern History with Daniel Usner

Native American Women and the Burdens of Southern History with Daniel Usner

Thu, Nov 09, 2023 - Thu, Nov 09, 2023
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Virtual Events

Join us for an evening with Daniel Usner as he discusses Native American Women and the Burdens of Southern History (LSU Press). This virtual program is sponsored by the Friends of the Cabildo as part of the Second Thursday Lecture Series. It is free and open to the public, but registration is required. The program will take place on Zoom on Thursday, September 14, 2023, 6:00–7:30 p.m. CDT.

Please register here:

Visit the LSU Press website to purchase the book:

About the Book

Though long neglected, the history and experiences of Indigenous women offer a deeper, more complex understanding of southern history and culture. In Native American Women and the Burdens of Southern History, Daniel H. Usner explores the dynamic role of Native American women in the South as they confronted waves of colonization, European imperial invasion, plantation encroachment, and post–Civil War racialization. In the process, he reveals the distinct form their means of adaptation and resistance took.

While drawing attention to existing scholarship on Native American women, Usner also uses original research and diverse sources, including visual images and material culture, to advance a new line of inquiry. Focusing on women’s responses and initiatives across centuries, he shows how their agency shaped and reshaped their communities’ relations with non-Native southerners. Exploring basketry in the Lower Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coastal South, Usner emphasizes the essential role women played in ongoing efforts at resistance and survival, even in the face of epidemics, violence, and enslavement unleashed by early colonizers. Foods and medicines that Native women gathered, carried, stored, and peddled in baskets proved integral in forming the region’s frontier exchange economy. 

Later, as the plantation economy threatened to envelop their communities, Indigenous women adapted to change and resisted disappearance by perpetuating exchange with non-Native neighbors and preserving a deep attachment to the land. By the start of the twentieth century, facing a new round of lethal attacks on Indigenous territory, identity, and sovereignty in the Jim Crow South, Native women’s resilient and resourceful skill as makers of basketry became a crucial instrument in their nations’ political diplomacy.

About the Author

Daniel Usner, born and raised in New Orleans, is the Holland N. McTyeire Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and current president of the Louisiana Historical Association. His books include Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley before 1783 (University of North Carolina Press, 1992), Weaving Alliances with Other Women: Chitimacha Indian Work in the New South (University of Georgia Press, 2014), and American Indians in Early New Orleans: From Calumet to Raquette (Louisiana State University, 2018).

Recently published by LSU Press, Native American Women and the Burdens of Southern History is a revised and expanded version of essays that he presented as the Walter Lynwood Fleming Lectures in Southern History at Louisiana State University in 2022. He is now working on a research project entitled “The Arts of Survival: How Basket Diplomacy Saved a Louisiana Indian Nation.”

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