Current scholarship on the impact of epidemics on American Indians is inadequate to explain how Indians survived. Too often Indians are given no credit for being able to combat emergent diseases, and too often epidemics are depicted as completely undermining native religious beliefs. This article,however, examines the response of Southeastern Indians to disease and shows that Native Americans were capable of successfully retarding mortality rates and curtailing the spread of contagions. Through their innovative responses to epidemiological crises, spiritual leaders reinforced tribal customs as well as their leadership position.

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