Journey to the West
The Alabama and Coushatta Indians
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
When Europeans battled for control over North America in the eighteenth century, American Indians were caught in the cross fire. Two such peoples, the Alabamas and Coushattas, made the difficult decision to migrate from their ancestral lands and thereby preserve their world on their own terms. In this book, Sheri Marie Shuck-Hall traces the gradual movement of the Alabamas and Coushattas from their origins in the Southeast to their nineteenth-century settlement in East Texas, exploring their motivations for migrating west and revealing how their shared experience affected their identity.
The first book to examine these peoples over such an extensive period, Journey to the West tells how they built and maintained their sovereignty despite five hundred years of trauma and change. Blending oral tradition, archaeological data, and archival sources, Shuck-Hall shows how they joined forces in the seventeenth century after their first contact with Europeans, then used trade and diplomatic relations to ally themselves with these newcomers and with larger Indian groups—including the Creeks, Caddos, and Western Cherokees—to ensure their continuing independence.
In relating how the Alabamas and Coushattas determined their own future through careful reflection and forceful action, this book provides much-needed information on these overlooked peoples and places southeastern Indians within the larger narratives of southern and American history. It shows how diaspora and migration shaped their worldview and identity, reflecting similar stories of survival in other times and places.