Discussion Questions

1. What are the differences between Indian and European approaches to gift giving and trade in the Southwest, Northeast, and Great Plains? What are some of the environmental consequences of these approaches?

2. What ecological roles did animal spirits, rain chiefs, and shamans play in Pueblo and Micmac societies? Were they the same or different in the two cases? How were the roles of these spirits changed by Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries?

3. What factors does Andrew Isenberg use to describe the Plains' Indians way of life in the early nineteenth century? How did the Plains' Indians way of life differ from that of Indians in the Southwest and Northeast?  What advantages and disadvantages did each of the three groups have in confronting Europeans?

4. How did Jared Diamond's "proximate and ultimate factors" of European transformation alter the ecology of the Southwest, Great Plains, and Northeast? How did they alter Indian life? What were the positive and negative consequences of these changes?

5. What specific differences in gender roles and power existed in native American societies before the arrival of Europeans. In what ways did the advent of Europeans alter roles and power relations between the sexes?

6. Compare and contrast Gutierrez's, Martin's, and Isenberg's explanations for environmental transformation? To what extent do ecological and cultural differences in the three cases account for the different explanations? To what extent do the underlying assumptions made by the three historians account for the different explanations?