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Frontiers of ScienceImperialism and Natural Knowledge in the Gulf South Borderlands, 1500-1850$
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Cameron B. Strang

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640471

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640471.001.0001

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Skulls, Scalps, and Seminoles

Skulls, Scalps, and Seminoles

(p.287) 7 Skulls, Scalps, and Seminoles
Frontiers of Science

Cameron B. Strang

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the Second Seminole War (1835–1842) and how whites and natives both developed new knowledge about the Seminoles as a unique ethnic group through violence against each other’s dead. On the one hand, Euro-Americans looked to native skulls to add scientific legitimacy to assertions that the Seminoles were a clearly defined ethnicity whose supposed predisposition for violence and lack of ancestral bonds to Florida justified their removal. On the other hand, the collection and circulation of white scalps strengthened the Seminoles’ understanding of themselves as a distinct people and allowed them to rebuild complete communities—ones that integrated the living, the multiethnic dead, and Floridian land—despite the trauma of the war.

Keywords:   Second Seminole War, Seminole Indians, Florida, U.S. Army, violence, ethnogenesis, craniology, phrenology, scalping, natural history

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