Networks in negotiation: the role of family and kinship in intercultural diplomacy on the trans-Appalachian frontier, 1680-1840
Inman, Natalie Rishay
Kinship networks were central to early Americans’ achievement of socio-economic and political goals. By comparing case studies of Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Anglo-American families, this dissertation shows how very important kinship was to early American life across cultures. The Colbert, Ward, Ridge, and Donelson families each used kinship relationships to pursue familial goals during the colonial and early republic periods. While these families all used kin-based strategies to achieve their goals, their aims differed drastically according to whether they were American Indians or Anglo-Americans. The Colbert, Ward, and Ridge families pursued trade-related goals in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but focused more and more on preservation of sovereignty as pressure from Anglo-Americans to cede land increased. The Donelson family used their kin networks to invest in a variety of business ventures, but primarily in land speculation. This comparison of American Indian and Anglo-American familial strategies illustrates how kinship networks were used similarly to pursue conflicting goals. The continuous use of kin-based strategies by the leaders of these cultures indicates that family was an essential part of early American intercultural political and economic negotiation and should be recognized as a powerful force in American history.