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Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America
The adoption of firearms by Native Americans between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries marked a turning point in the history of North America's indigenous peoples--a cultural earthquake so profound, says David Silverman, that its impact has yet to be adequately measured. Thundersticks reframes our understanding of Native Americans' historical relationship with guns, arguing against the notion that Indians prized these weapons more for the pyrotechnic terror they inspired than their efficiency as tools of war. Native Americans fully recognized the potential of firearms to assist them in their struggles against colonial forces, and mostly against one another. The smoothbore, flintlock musket was Indians' stock firearm, and its destructive potential transformed their lives. For the deer hunters east of the Mississippi, the gun evolved into an essential hunting tool. Most importantly, well-armed tribes were able to capture and enslave their neighbors, plunder wealth, and conquer territory. Arms races erupted across North America, intensifying intertribal rivalries and solidifying the importance of firearms in Indian politics and culture. Though Native Americans grew dependent on guns manufactured in Europe and the United States, their dependence never prevented them from rising up against Euro-American power. Tribes such as the Seminoles, Blackfeet, and Lakotas remained formidably armed right up to the time of their subjugation. Far from being a Trojan horse for colonialism, firearms empowered Native Americans to pursue their interests and defend their political and economic autonomy over two centuries.--
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