Toward the beginning of Masters of Empire, Michael A. McDonnell states, “We cannot understand the history of early America without comprehending Indian country on its own terms” (19). In the pages that follow, McDonnell untangles the threads of the intersecting and overlapping social and political worlds of the Great Lakes from before the colonial era through the early 1800s, and with that knowledge, he offers new insights into familiar events. McDonnell reorients early American history by centering the story on the Odawas of Michilimackinac and demonstrating their role in shaping colonial America. At their village at the straits between Lakes Huron and Michigan, Odawas controlled “one of the few strategic entry points into and out of continental North America” (12). From this position of power, Odawas extended kinship networks throughout the Great Lakes, building webs of political, economic, and military allies...

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