Each year more than five hundred new books appear in the field of North American Indian history. There exists, however, no means by which scholars can easily judge which are most significant, which explore new fields of inquiry and ask new questions, and which areas are the subject of especially strong inquiry or are being overlooked. New Directions in American Indian History provides some answers to these questions by bringing together a collection of bibliographic essays by historians, anthropologists, sociologists, religionists, linguists, economists, and legal scholars who are working at the cutting edge of Indian history.
This volume responds to the label "new directions" in two ways. First, it describes what new directions have been pursued recently by historians of the Indian experience. Second, it points out some new directions that remain to be pursued.
Part One, "Recent Trends," contains six essays reviewing the following six areas where there has been significant interest and activity: quantitative methods in Native American history, by Melissa L. Meyer and Russell Thornton; American Indian women, by Deborah Welch; new developments in Métis history, by Dennis F.K. Madill; recent developments in southern plains Indian history, by Willard Rollings; Indians and the law, by George S. Grossman; and twentieth-century Indian history, by James Riding In.
Part Two, "Emerging Trends," contains essays on aspects of Indian history that remain undeveloped: language study and Plains Indian history, by Douglas R. Parks; economics and American Indian history, by Ronald L. Trosper; and religious changes in Native American societies, by Robert A. Brightman. These latter essays present a critique of current scholarship and sketch an agenda for future inquiry. Taken together, the nine essays in this book will help students at all levels to evaluate recent scholarship and tap the immense contemporary literature on American Indian history.