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Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands Juliana Barr The University of North Carolina Press


30th June 2012 History Books 5 Comments

“An important analysis of Spanish-Indian relations in a borderlands region where Indian power stayed remarkably strong. Through her recovery of the stories of women, Barr shows that, at least until the nineteenth century, gender remained a stronger influence than race on those always volatile relationships.”
–Church History

“A field-changing work. . . . The first to show how really essential gender is to contact studies.”
William and Mary Quarterly

“Rich, complex, and detailed. . . . A well-crafted and thoughtful work that does much to alter the landscape of American history.”
Signs

“Contributes to a fundamental debate in North American history. . . . Well-written and insightful interpretation.”
— Arkansas Historical Review

“Juliana Barr . . . brings us a brilliant re-analysis of the interactions of the Native Americans and Spaniards across the frontier . . . . With remarkable insight and cultural perspicuity, Barr filters the early Texas history story through a new historical lens. . . . From the book’s opening Introduction, the reader is stunned with the inversion of historical understanding.”
— East Texas Historical Journal

“A fine book in every respect, clearly written, persuasive, solidly documented, and useful for both student and scholar alike. . . . Encourages scholars to look anew at areas where Indians met Europeans.”
Hispanic American Historical Review

“Deserves to be reckoned with by future scholarship on colonial Texas. . . . fundamental contributions to the historiography on colonial Texas.”
Catholic Southwest

“A superbly crafted contribution to the growing literature that places Native Americans at the center of the struggle for control of eighteenth-century North America. . . . This finely conceptualized and beautifully executed book easily ranks on the short list of essential reading for scholars of Native American history.”
— Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“Transforming enemies into allies took decades, and Barr offers a way to begin revising and rethinking the literature on these . . . encounters.”
— The Journal of American History

“Barr skillfully blends anthropology and Spanish sources to present a complicated picture that revises the standard narrative of Spanish colonial Texas. . . . A nuanced picture of the shifting ground upon which Spanish-Indian relations were built, and the importance of tapping into indigenous understandings of diplomacy in order to more completely comprehend these cultural encounters.”
— New Mexico Historical Review

“Historiographically significant and beautifully written,Peace Came in the Form of a Woman will enjoy a wide readership among those interested in early American, Native American, and Borderlands history.”
— Journal of American Ethnic History

“[Barr's] conclusions are compelling . . . . Everyone who studies the Spanish borderlands, Native Americans, or women needs to read this book.”
— CHOICE

Peace Came in the Form of a Woman vastly deepens our knowledge of the colonial Texas borderlands and thus our understanding of early North American history.
–James F. Brooks, author of Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship and Community in the Southwest Borderlands

With a richly crafted narrative and lively prose, it is an amazing achievement.
–Kathleen M. Brown, University of Pennsylvania

Revising the standard narrative of European-Indian relations in America, Juliana Barr reconstructs a world in which Indians were the dominant power and Europeans were the ones forced to accommodate, resist, and persevere. She demonstrates that between the 1690s and 1780s, Indian peoples including Caddos, Apaches, Payayas, Karankawas, Wichitas, and Comanches formed relationships with Spaniards in Texas that refuted European claims of imperial control. Instead of being defined in racial terms, as was often the case with European constructions of power, diplomatic relations between the Indians and Spaniards in the region were dictated by Indian expressions of power, grounded in gendered terms of kinship.

Revising the standard narrative of European-Indian relations in America, Juliana Barr reconstructs a world in which Indians were the dominant power and Europeans were the ones forced to accommodate, resist, and persevere.

“An important analysis of Spanish-Indian relations in a borderlands region where Indian power stayed remarkably strong. Through her recovery of the stories of women, Barr shows that, at least until the nineteenth century, gender remained a stronger influence than race on those always volatile relationships.”
–Church History

“A field-changing work. . . . The first to show how really essential gender is to contact studies.”
William and Mary Quarterly

“Rich, complex, and detailed. . . . A well-crafted and thoughtful work that does much to alter the landscape of American history.”
Signs

“Contributes to a fundamental debate in North American history. . . . Well-written and insightful interpretation.”
— Arkansas Historical Review

“Juliana Barr . . . brings us a brilliant re-analysis of the interactions of the Native Americans and Spaniards across the frontier . . . . With remarkable insight and cultural perspicuity, Barr filters the early Texas history story through a new historical lens. . . . From the book’s opening Introduction, the reader is stunned with the inversion of historical understanding.”
— East Texas Historical Journal

“A fine book in every respect, clearly written, persuasive, solidly documented, and useful for both student and scholar alike. . . . Encourages scholars to look anew at areas where Indians met Europeans.”
Hispanic American Historical Review

“Deserves to be reckoned with by future scholarship on colonial Texas. . . . fundamental contributions to the historiography on colonial Texas.”
Catholic Southwest

“A superbly crafted contribution to the growing literature that places Native Americans at the center of the struggle for control of eighteenth-century North America. . . . This finely conceptualized and beautifully executed book easily ranks on the short list of essential reading for scholars of Native American history.”
— Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“Transforming enemies into allies took decades, and Barr offers a way to begin revising and rethinking the literature on these . . . encounters.”
— The Journal of American History

“Barr skillfully blends anthropology and Spanish sources to present a complicated picture that revises the standard narrative of Spanish colonial Texas. . . . A nuanced picture of the shifting ground upon which Spanish-Indian relations were built, and the importance of tapping into indigenous understandings of diplomacy in order to more completely comprehend these cultural encounters.”
— New Mexico Historical Review

“Historiographically significant and beautifully written,Peace Came in the Form of a Woman will enjoy a wide readership among those interested in early American, Native American, and Borderlands history.”
— Journal of American Ethnic History

“[Barr's] conclusions are compelling . . . . Everyone who studies the Spanish borderlands, Native Americans, or women needs to read this book.”
— CHOICE

Peace Came in the Form of a Woman vastly deepens our knowledge of the colonial Texas borderlands and thus our understanding of early North American history.
–James F. Brooks, author of Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship and Community in the Southwest Borderlands

With a richly crafted narrative and lively prose, it is an amazing achievement.
–Kathleen M. Brown, University of Pennsylvania

Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands

War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War

“Brian DeLay is one of the most articulate and original authors writing in the Western Americana field today.” Howard R. Lamar, author of The New Encyclopedia of the American West”

In the early 1830s, after decades of relative peace, northern Mexicans and the Indians whom they called the barbarians descended into a terrifying cycle of violence. For the next fifteen years, owing in part to changes unleashed by American expansion, Indian warriors launched devastating attacks across ten Mexican states. Raids and counter-raids claimed thousands of lives, ruined much of northern Mexicos economy, depopulated its countryside, and left man-made deserts in place of thriving settlements. Just as important, this vast interethnic war informed and emboldened U.S. arguments in favor of seizing Mexican territory while leaving northern Mexicans too divided, exhausted, and distracted to resist the American invasion and subsequent occupation.

Exploring Mexican, American, and Indian sources ranging from diplomatic correspondence and congressional debates to captivity narratives and plains Indians pictorial calendars, War of a Thousand Deserts recovers the surprising and previously unrecognized ways in which economic, cultural, and political developments within native communities affected nineteenth-century nation-states. In the process this ambitious book offers a rich and often harrowing new narrative of the era when the United States seized half of Mexicos national territory.


War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War (The Lamar Series in Western History)










  • 5 responses to "Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands Juliana Barr The University of North Carolina Press"

  • DougS
    21:02 on June 30th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    All those maps you saw in school that show changing European borders cutting through central North America are a fiction. Those maps showed various expanses of British, French, Spanish, American and Mexican rule. Yet, arguably the largest national territory for decades was Comancheria. At it’s peak Comanche military, commercial and political power extended from western New Mexico east almost to the Mississippi and from north of Okalahoma to deep in to Mexico. They influenced and sometimes destroyed the colonial dreams of great European powers. Thinking of the Comanches as anyone’s as victims is non-historical and an insult.

    Conventional histories may mention the Comances in passing but that’s like writting a history of Asia with Gengis Kahn appearing only as a footnote.

    I can also recomend a companion book on this topic “The Comanche Empire” by Pekka Hämäläinen.

  • vuewide
    3:45 on July 1st, 2012
    Reply to comment

    The destruction that the Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches wreaked upon the people of Mexico in the era leading up the
    Mexican-American War (1846-1848) is not well known, at least not in the USA. This amazing publication by Brian Delay serves to educate all who might not be so familiar with what was essentially a 15-year bloodbath. The War of a Thousand Deserts was waged by Indian warriors upon the citizenry of Mexico (mostly farmers and ranchers and the like) that was so terrible that it left much of the region north of Mexico City in utter ruin and so distraught and preoccupied they were almost powerless to deal with the American invasion when it occurred.

    Delay does a brilliant and thorough job detailing many of the battles and attacks. His erudition is obvious but his writing style is nonetheless quite stirring. The only flaw in the book is that does tend to drag on at times. There’s so much to tell and Delay seems to unable to edit or withhold many of the details. But readers are encouraged to read on despite of this as it’s such an incredible story. Delay even lists (in the Appendix) the many fights/raids/casualties so that readers can easily see what the real numbers were.

    War of a Thousand Deserts is essential reading for students of American ad Mexican history anyone looking for a great read!

  • Ash Nallawalla
    5:16 on July 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    When I was taking a course on U.S. Military History for my masters degree, there was one war for which a book was conspicuously absent from the syllabus: The U.S.-Mexico War. When I asked my professor about it, he informed me that he hadn’t found a good book that covered some unusual aspect of the war to fit in with the other readings for the class.

    That book is now here.

    In War of a Thousand Deserts, Brian DeLay takes on a little known subject from an often neglected period in American history–the effect that Indian raids in northern Mexico had on the U.S. War with that nation. His conclusions about such topics as whether Comanche raids were conducted simply for material gain or also vengeance, or that such raids were as essential a component in the lead-up to the war as any political or expansionist motivations, are backed up by extensive research and pages of data. Professor DeLay is obviously a very careful and conscientious investigator, as evidenced by the outstanding material presented in the appendix.

    But just as impressive is DeLay’s writing style, which avoids the dryness of many scholarly works at this level and makes the story as enjoyable to read as it is informative. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in U.S., Indian, Mexican, or military history, as well as anyone simply looking for a good read.

  • getalifefloyd
    14:12 on July 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    The description above is from a Mexican official, Jose Maria Sanchez, writing in 1830 about the North Americans flooding into Texas (then a Mexican state). Manuel Mier y Teran also noted the North Americans’ contempt for Mexican laws and refusal to learn the language. The Mexicans clearly saw the threat to their sovereignty, and outlawed immigration from the north.

    However, the Mexicans were unable to stop the eventuality they clearly foresaw. The Mexican North was a “thousand deserts”, laid waste by Comanche raids, terrifying attacks of up to 1,000 warriors who could travel 100 miles a day. Roiling internal politics and a poor economy meant that Mexico did not protect its north from the norteamericano or Indian menaces. American and Mexican willingness to turn a blind eye to buying branded animals created a ready market for stolen livestock.

    The next time I hear someone extolling Indian simplicity and virtue, I will grit my teeth. The Comanches were renowned for their gratuitous cruelty and devotion to vengeance and retribution, leaving behind “bellowing farm animals dragging their guts behind them”,slaughtered noncombatants, some burned alive, and wholesale destruction of grain stocks and wells poisoned with corpses. Because Texans appear to have matched Comanches for ferocity, most of these raids were directed into the Mexico, even as far south as San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas, victimizing people who were no conceivable threat. Warriors would engage in a scorched earth campaign (as opposed to merely efficiently stealing animals) even when this put them in danger by giving defenders time to organize. There was plenty to seek vengeance for. For instance, in 1846, James Kirker, an American, led a party which slaughtered and scalped 130 unarmed Chiricahua Apaches in Galeana, Chihuahua, to general acclaim from the Mexican populace, an incident which discredited Apache voices advocating peace. All the while, of course, American politicians (especially those looking to expand slave territories)were observing these events with interest, realizing that the Indian raids helped create the opportunity for the United States to acquire northern Mexico, by purchase or conquest.

    Professor DeLay’s gripping book is full of these telling insights. I read this based on a recommendation from Larry McMurtry in The New York Review of Books. Who better to recommend readings on the American Southwest during this period?

  • Deep Thoughts
    0:07 on July 3rd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Delay has written a highly readable account of Comanche interaction with Mexicans and Anglos during the early nineteenth century. One of the book’s strong points is that it makes no attempt to romanticize Native Americans. (For an interesting contrast, see Gary Clayton Anderson’s The Conquest of Texas, which characterizes the subjugation of Indians during this period as “ethnic cleansing.”) According to Delay, Comanche raids against Mexicans in the borderlands were both destructive and brutal. While I’m not entirely convinced by Delay’s argument that the severity of these raids left Mexico so debilitated that it was unable to prevent American westward expansion–the war between the two countries was won in the valley of Mexico, not the northern frontier–he does a great job recreating the struggle for dominance in the American Southwest. This is a little known story, told by a serious scholar with a flair for vivid prose. A major contribution to the field of borderlands studies.

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