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Columbia Announces Winners of 2003 Bancroft Prizes in American History and Diplomacy

Two books dealing with the history and socioeconomic impact of slave trade among Native Americans in the South and Southwest have been selected as winners of the 2003 Bancroft Prizes in American History and Diplomacy. The prizes, which each include a grant of $4,000, are awarded annually by the Trustees of Columbia University. President Bollinger presented the awards at a formal dinner hosted by the Department of History and the University Libraries on Wednesday, April 9.

The recipients are:

"Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands," by James F. Brooks (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), and

"The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South,1670-1717," by Allan Gallay (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002)

The Bancroft Prize, one of the most distinguished awards in the field of history, is presented annually to the authors of books of exceptional merit and distinction in the field of American history (including biography and diplomacy).

"Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands," by James F. Brooks, examines the origins and legacies of a flourishing captive exchange economy within and among native American and Euramerican communities throughout the Southwest Borderlands from the Spanish colonial era to the end of the nineteenth century.

Indigenous and colonial traditions of capture, servitude, and kinship met and meshed in the borderlands, forming a "slave system" in which victims symbolized social wealth, performed services for their masters, and produced material goods under the threat of violence. Slave and livestock raiding and trading among Apaches, Comanches, Kiowas, Navajos, Utes and Spaniards provided labor resources, redistributed wealth, and fostered kin connections that integrated disparate and antagonistic groups even as these practices renewed cycles of violence and warfare.

Always attentive to the corrosive effects of the "slave trade" on Indian and colonial societies, Brooks, an adjunct associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, also explores slavery's centrality in intercultural trade, alliances and "communities of interest" among groups often antagonistic to Spanish, Mexican and American modernizing strategies. The extension of the moral and military campaigns of the American Civil War to the Southwest in a regional "war against slavery" brought differing forms of social stability but cost local communities much of their economic vitality and cultural flexibility.

"The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717," by Allan Gallay, is the first book to focus on the traffic in Indian slaves during the early years of the American South. The Indian slave trade was of central importance from the Carolina coast to the Mississippi Valley for nearly 50 years, linking southern lives and creating a whirlwind of violence and profit-making, argues Gallay, a professor of history at Western Washington University. He documents in vivid detail how the trade operated, the processes by which Europeans and Native Americans became participants, and the profound consequences for the South and its peoples.

Native Americans stand at the center of the story of European colonization and the evolution of plantation slavery in America. The author explores the impact of such contemporary forces as the African slave trade, the unification of England and Scotland, and the competition among European empires as well as political and religious divisions in England and in South Carolina. Gallay also analyzes how Native American societies approached warfare, diplomacy, and decisions about allying and trading with Europeans. His wide-ranging research not only illuminates a crucial crossroad of European and Native American history but also establishes a new context for understanding racism, colonialism, and the meaning of ethnicity in early America.

The Bancroft Prizes were established at Columbia in 1948 with a bequest from Frederic Bancroft, the historian, author and librarian of the Department of State, to provide steady development of library resources, to support instruction and research in American history and diplomacy and to recognize exceptional books in the field. Books eligible for the 2003 prize were published in 2002.

Authors of the 2003 Bancroft Prize-winning Books

Alan Galley is a Professor of History at Western Washington University. He has written extensively on slavery and the American South. His study of Jonathan Bryan, "The Formation of a Planter Elite: Jonathan Bryan and the Southern Colonial Frontier," was published in 1989 by the University of Georgia Press and his edited collection "Voices of the Old South: Eyewitness Accounts, 1528 - 1861" was published in 1994 also the University of Georgia Press. In addition, he edited the "Colonial Wars of North America, 1912 - 1763 An Encyclopedia," published by Garland (with over 7 contributors) in 1996.

James F. Brooks is a member of the Research Faculty at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as director of the SAR Press. He is also an adjunct associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is editor of "Confounding the Color Line: the Indian-Black Experience in North America," published in 2002 by the University of Nebraska Press, and is currently writing "Nations, Tribes and Colors: Borderland Peoples and a History for the Twenty-first Century," to be published by Harvard University Press.

Alan Brinkley, the Allan Nevins Professor of History at Columbia and chair of the history department, and James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, presided at this year's dinner honoring the recipients.

Published: Apr 10, 2003
Last modified: Apr 09, 2003

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