The Adirondacks have been an Indigenous homeland for millennia, the presence of Native people in the region obvious but historically not well documented. With Rural Indigenousness, Otis illuminates the rich history of Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples, offering the first comprehensive study of their relationship to this northeastern borderlands area. Rural Indigenousness also brings this under studied regional history into broader national debates about Euro-American and Indigenous contact in North America.
Here Otis argues that hunting landscapes like the Adirondacks are complex, introducing the term “location of exchange” to suggest a sense of reciprocity and intricate transaction between people and the land. She likewise emphasizes the importance of class relations and rural society to understand contact history throughout the nineteenth century and beyond. Drawing on archival research, material culture, and oral history, Otis skillfully examines the nature of Indigenous populations in Euro-American rural communities, specifically how some maintained a distinct identity while making selective adaptations, illustrating the nuanced concept of “survivance.” In doing so, Rural Indigenousness develops a new conversation in the field of Native American studies that expands our understanding of urban and rural indigeneity.