"Otis has done an excellent job of crafting this narrative. This book promises to make a splash in Native American studies."—Jon Parmenter, author of The Edge of the Woods: Iroquoia, 1534–1701
"Otis has shown us that oral traditions might be as correct as the data from archaeological artifacts."—Thomas Struthers Abler, Journal of American History
"A passionate, comprehensive, much-needed affirmation of the ongoing and ancient presence of Native people in the Adirondacks."—Douglas M. George-Kanentiio, author of Iroquois Culture and Commentary
"Otis’s book fills one of the most gaping holes in the study of the Adirondacks and vanquishes the ‘Indians never lived here’ meme for all time. It is a rich and readable account not only of Native people in the Adirondacks historically, but more specifically during the period of invisibility and assimilation between the War of Independence and the dawn of the 'high steel' age. . . . It is timely, overdue and will be the standard work for decades."—Chris Shaw, author of Sacred Monkey River
"Scholarly and popular histories alike have too often treated Native people as peripheral to the Adirondacks and the Adirondacks as peripheral to Native life. Melissa Otis puts that myth to rest, demonstrating that the Adirondacks have for centuries been an integral part of the Haudenosaunee and Abenaki homelands. Otis’s exploration of rural Indigeneity, moreover, is an important complement to the far more intensively-studied phenomenon of urban Indians."—James Rice, Walter S. Dickson Professor of History, Tufts University
"This deeply researched and compelling book reveals the centrality of Indigenous labour to the changing culture and history of the Adirondacks. Combining microhistorical and ethnohistorical methodologies, Rural Indigenousness tells a powerful story about how settler colonialism shaped and continues to shape the region’s history."—Boyd Cothran, editor of The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
"Otis shines a light on the rich history of Algonquian and Iroquoian people, offering the first comprehensive study of the relationship between Native Americans and the Adirondacks."—Rob Burke, editor of Indian Gaming Magazine
"Otis’s Rural Indigenousness is a more comprehensive study of the relationship between Native Americans and the Adirondacks than we have seen to date. It shines a light on the rich history of Algonquian and Iroquoian people in the region and explores a variety of Native American experiences."—The Adirondack Almanack
"An important book that people with serious interest in the North Country will want to read."—Adirondack Daily Enterprise
"Otis has done an excellent job of making accessible a history that spans many centuries, crosses national borders, and engages such a range of sources and scholarship."—New York History
The Adirondacks have been an Indigenous homeland for millennia, and the presence of Native people in the region was obvious but not well documented by Europeans, who did not venture into the interior between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. Yet, by the late nineteenth century, historians had scarcely any record of their long-lasting and vibrant existence in the area. With Rural Indigenousness, Otis shines a light on the rich history of Algonquian and Iroquoian people, offering the first comprehensive study of the relationship between Native Americans and the Adirondacks. While Otis focuses on the nineteenth century, she extends her analysis to periods before and after this era, revealing both the continuity and change that characterize the relationship over time. Otis argues that the landscape was much more than a mere hunting ground for Native residents; rather, it a “location of exchange,” a space of interaction where the land was woven into the fabric of
their lives as an essential source of refuge and survival. Drawing upon archival research, material culture, and oral histories, Otis examines the nature of Indigenous populations living in predominantly Euroamerican communities to identify the ways in which some maintained their distinct identity while also making selective adaptations exemplifying the concept of “survivance.” In doing so, Rural Indigenousness develops a new conversation in the field of Native American studies that expands our understanding of urban and rural indigeneity.
Melissa Otis holds a PhD in history of education from the University of Toronto.
Series: The Iroquois and Their Neighbors
6 x 9, 400 pages, 7 black and white illustrations, 1 maps