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America's History in the Making

Mapping Initial Encounters

In the Video

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Historical Perspectives

Historical Perspectives

Historians have become more likely to describe the arrival of Europeans in the Americas as "encounters" than "discoveries." The encounters that followed the arrival of newcomers could be violent and catastrophic, although
sometimes they were mutually beneficial. The intentions of those involved often shaped the encounter.

Faces of America

Faces of America

Written records are often used when studying the past. By going beyond the written record and examining other sources, however, historians are able to develop a richer, deeper understanding of the past.

Esteban was captured from North Africa, enslaved, and sent to Florida as part of a Spanish expedition in 1528. The surviving descriptions of this remarkable individual—who moved so ably between many cultures—are fragmentary, and none were written by him.

John Webber was a young English artist when he joined the final voyage of Captain James Cook. His representations, while offering Europe a first look at indigenous life, do not reflect how the Native Americans viewed the encounters.

Watkuweis was a young woman when she was kidnapped from the Nimipuu (Nez Perce). The Nez Perce’s oral tradition preserved her story and helps us to see early encounters from an indigenous point of view.

Hands on History

Hands on History

The growing field of culinary history allows us to understand how food has affected our history.

Jessica Harris is a food historian who uses many academic disciplines and a variety of historical sources to explore how food can describe the nature of culture and society. She traces the diffusion or distribution of food across the Atlantic Ocean and its impact on Creole culture. Read edited Hands on History interview with Jessica B. Harris.

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