John Tully’s new book explores Ohio’s past

Victoria University historian and writer John Tully is on a literary roll – he is about to publish his second book in a year.

In his latest book, Professor Tully, an Honorary Professor in Politics and History in the College of Arts, takes a close look at the history of white settlement and American Indian dispossession in the Akron district of Ohio.

Crooked Deals and Broken Treaties: How American Indians Were Displaced By White Settlers In The Cuyahoga Valley (Monthly Review Press) details the violent ethnic cleansing seen in this early 19th century colonial project.

Before the smokestacks and factories of industrial Akron rose from the Cuyahoga Valley, the region was already a place of tense confrontation.

White settlers lured by the promise of cheap or free land began arriving from the east and inevitably came into conflict with the American Indians who had thrived in the valley for generations.

The events in this region, he said, were the start of ethnic cleansing of native nations and communities east of the Mississippi River.

Professor Tully drew on contemporary accounts and a host of studies to produce this elegiac history of the Cuyahoga Valley.

The book, he said, also deals with the ecological consequences of settlement.

“Akron was the premier rubber manufacturing city in the world and featured prominently my book The Devil's Milk: A Social History of Rubber,” he said.

“I had been working on a social history of the city but I had amassed so much information that I decided to turn material on the indigenous people and white contact into a single separate volume.”

Professor Tully said his interest in indigenous culture and peoples started as a child.

“My interest in indigenous peoples goes back to my childhood in Tasmania where I learned about the genocide of the Aborigines there,” he said.

“Later as a student, I was active in support for Aboriginal struggles in Australia, including the Wave Hill strike in which the Gurindji people in the Northern Territory took on Lord Vestey and got part of their land back after a five year strike.”

Crooked Deals and Broken Treaties is Professor Tully’s fourth book - taking the total number of published books, including fiction and non-fiction historical research, to 10.

Tasmanian Aboriginal elder and writer Jim Everett will officially launch the book at the New International Bookshop, Melbourne Trades Hall, at 6.30pm on Wednesday 9 December.

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