• Comanche;
  • emic;
  • etic;
  • indigenous epistemology;
  • ethnohistory;
  • historical method


How should historians write Native history? To what extent should one privilege Native terms, sources, chronologies, and epistemologies? And to what extent should historians align Native history with concepts developed for other peoples and places? These crucial questions about emic (insider) and etic (outsider) approaches to the past are cast into sharp relief in Pekka Hämäläinen's award-winning The Comanche Empire. This essay charts the perils and possibilities of each position. It then explores possible ways to move beyond the emic/etic division that has dominated many of the recent debates about Native history through a rereading of an episode in which Comanche history collides with US and Mexican history.