The Indians of Texas: From Prehistoric to Modern Times

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University of Texas Press, 1972 - History - 440 pages
4 Reviews

"Newcomb's book is likely to remain the best general work on Texas Indians for a long time."

?American Antiquity

"The Indians of Texas, by W. W. Newcomb, Jr., is an excellent and long-needed survey of the ethnography of the Indian tribes who resided within the present limits of Texas since the beginning of the historic period.... The book is the most comprehensive. scholarly, and authoritative account covering all the Indians of Texas, and is an invaluable and indispensable reference for students of Texas history, for anthropologists, and for lovers of Indian lore."


"Dr. Newcomb writes persuasively and with economy, and he has used his material very well indeed.... his presentation makes good reading of what might have been a book only for the specialists."

?Saturday Review

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Historical books such as this work can provide both a wonderful amount of detail about life of the Indians, and sometimes, such as in this case, provide a dim view of the level of historical research in the time period it was written. The scholarly endeavors of modern work, meaning after 1980's, have instilled in Native research a serious cynicism towards works where authors freely quote previous sources which were not always of good quality direct knowledge, and not of sound historical research. It is uncomfortable to have to point out the shortcomings in areas of cultural background, meaning, interrelations of anthropological study and in such areas as material culture, useful descriptions of architecture, weapons,... even simple ceremonial distinctions which could prove insight into customs, marriage, family relations, tribal differenciations were never investigated or looked into, merely a research and regurgitation of seemingly "pertinent" information which was more the view of the settlers point of view, without reference to the social customs, traditions or explanations which could demonstrate simple connections or understandings.
To mention the "taboo" on killing wolves, without any explanation that the Tonkawa in their own mythology believed they were descended from wolves is an oversight which leaves gaps which could explain their seeming inability to change to an agricultural staple,...It was choice, they chose not to become farmers because wolves do not do agriculture, they hunt/ The stylistic references to "skulking warriors" seems an inappropriate and ethnocentric description which needlessly degrades subsistence cultures through affiliation with traits which were not "socially" understood or acceptable to the original settlers or the modern writer of this book.
If we are to use a book as a tool to educate and instill a knowledge, and not cite points of culture and differentiation in societal structure, why further insult the society described by using judgmental terms and self-centered societal "norms" which only further confuse young readers, and place barriers of huge "gaps" of information to experienced researchers. That this work is an introductory collection of data is obvious, It is unfortunate that it holds neither ethnographic nor skilled historical research work which is based upon questioning and comparative analysis of sources, this is it's flaw, which owes more to the period of it's writing and level of scholarship at the time, which accepted sources written less than a decade previous over period sources, and failed to limit critical opinions based on social differences rather than trying to evaluate such cultural and social forms as developmental states. This work is best used as a means of teaching serious students how to evaluate their own research, and not as a resource on "facts," as it seemingly fails to note the difference between evidence and hearsay. Good as an initial, fundamental, or casual brief to familiarize, this work isn't one I would accept at a level for information beyond beginning social studies, and I would not allow it as a resource in anything of an even modestly advanced level.
My evaluation seems to beg the question as to what audience it was intended for, and the difficulty I have with it remains that stylistically, rather than generate interest, it seems to pick and choose which societies were more interesting to the author, and demonstrates a few unwarranted biases against others. I wish I could find more supportive and encouraging things to say, but the more I read this work, the deeper the failings in useful comparative culture became, and the deeper it became mired in demonstrating the dearth of "civilization" with subsistence cultures. Criticizing a child for not being an adult is not a worthy argument, just as judging a significantly simpler societal structure by the standards of Western or modern civilization is not an educational outlook.

Review: The Indians of Texas: From Prehistoric to Modern Times

User Review  - Fredrick Danysh - Goodreads

Newcomb has written an interesting history of Native Americans from ancient to more modern times. I have recommended this book to students interested in the Native Americans. Read full review

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