A murderous whirlwind, an evil child-abducting witch-woman, a masked cannibal, terrifying scalped men, a mysterious man-slaying flint creature: the oral tradition of the Caddoan Indians is alive with monsters. Whereas Western historical methods and interpretations relegate such beings to the realms of myth and fantasy, Mark van de Logt argues in Monsters of Contact that creatures found in the stories of the Caddos, Wichitas, Pawnees, and Arikaras actually embody specific historical events and the negative effects of European contact: invasion, war, death, disease, enslavement, starvation, and colonialism.

Van de Logt examines specific sites of historical interaction between American Indians and Europeans, from the outbreaks and effect of smallpox epidemics on the Arikaras, to the violence and enslavement Caddos faced at the hands of Hernando de Soto’s expedition, and Wichita encounters with Spanish missionaries and French traders in Texas. In each case he explains how, through Indian metaphor, seemingly unrelated stories of supernatural beings and occurrences translate into real people and events that figure prominently in western U.S. history. The result is a peeling away of layers of cultural values that, for those invested in Western historical traditions, otherwise obscure the meaning of such tales and their “monsters.”

Although Western historical methods have become the standard in much of the world, van de Logt demonstrates that indigenous forms of history are no less valuable, and that oral traditions and myths can be useful sources of historical information. A daring interpretation of Caddoan lore, Monsters of Contact puts oral traditions at the center of historical inquiry and, in so doing, asks us to reconsider what makes a monster.

About The Author
Mark van de Logt is Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University of Qatar and author of War Party in Blue: Pawnee Scouts in the U.S. Army.

Reviews & Praise
“In Monsters of Contact, Mark van de Logt connects the ‘myths’ of Caddoan peoples with tangible historical events attendant to the unfolding trauma of European colonialism. Unleashing literary theory and ethnography to consort with the fragmentary documentary record, van de Logt shows that stories long presumed to lie in the shadowlands of monster-filled ‘folklore’ are, in fact, powerfully detailed metaphors for the lived experience of these Indian Nations.”—James F. Brooks, author of Mesa of Sorrows: A History of the Awat’Ovi Massacre

“In this fascinating and thought-provoking study, Mark van de Logt demonstrates how Native American oral traditions can be used successfully to augment the European-based historical record. By tying stories previously dismissed as Caddoan ‘fairy tales’ to documented historical events, the author reveals the Native Americans’ side of history.”—F. Todd Smith, author of From Dominance to Disappearance: The Indians of Texas and the Near Southwest, 1786–1859

Book Information
12 b&w illus., 1 map, and 1 chart
274 Pages
Hardcover 978-0-8061-6014-6
Paperback 978-0-8061-6750-3
Kindle 978-0-8061-6108-2
e-pub 978-0-8061-6109-9
Published June 2018
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