Kathleen DuVal’s The Native Ground examines the relationships between Native American Indians and Europeans in the Arkansas River Valley.  By shifting our awareness from a European based view to a Native American Indians centered view, history as we know in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is dramatically altered.  Her work shifts geographic focus from European coastal outposts to “the heart of the continent.”  The Arkansas Valley was already an established center of Native American Indian trade in North America.  The importance of the region for its Native American Indian and European visitors was the distinct opportunity for natural progression because of the existing diverse communities and tribal relationships.  Modern history reflects the settlement of colonial North America from various European viewpoints.  However, she shows that the simplistic, mainstream version of American history is riddled with historical biases.  Recognizing the Arkansas Valley as the center of colonial North America is a more truthful representation of the evolvement of the nation.  DuVal points out that the Arkansas Valley was a place where Native American Indians and Europeans from the East and West met, providing a link between the two.  Due to the proximity of the eastern Arkansas Valley to the Mississippi River Valley, the area was a natural trade route for Native Americans Indians.  By proxy, it would eventually be the same for Indian and European explorers, traders, and ultimately, immigrants.  Not some European empire’s mission, it was, indeed, “the heart of the continent.”  It’s important to understand that when European scouting expeditions first came to the continent, no one representing any European empires had any control over the Arkansas Valley.  Despite popular misconception, the Native American Indians in the mid-continent were not untamed, wild savages waiting for salvation from a more sophisticated group.  They had established communities with forms of government, trade agreements in place with other communities, and advanced agricultural and hunting techniques, unique to their groups.  Because of their ability to adapt to the conditions of the land, the initial survival of European explorers was contingent, largely in part, on them.  The failure of sixteenth-century Spanish explorers in the area to thrive was based largely on their unwillingness to recognize the incorporations and hierarchies of those groups.  The Spanish were driven by greed, and refused to participate in the politics of an already established political system. DuVal argues that unlike Richard White’s “Middle Ground,” where Native American Indians and Europeans were not compatible, “the Arkansas Valley was home to a few large and relatively cohesive tribes from the time the French arrived through the early nineteenth century.”   The established Native American Indians during this time were able to survive because of their ability to adapt to the influx of European peoples, and because they recognized their own power.    The situation in the seventeenth century was very different.  The Quapaws, who were recent migrants from the Ohio Valley, possibly with depleted numbers to escape the Iroquois, were meeting resistance from the established populations of the area.  They realized that by forming an alliance with the French that they were able to bolster their political authority, as other Native American Indian groups in the area were aligned with the Dutch and English. The relationship that the Quapaw and French developed, while mutually beneficial, was still more favorable to the Quapaw. The Quapaw still dominated almost every aspect of relationship, and were resistant to any change that the French might offer, but the French  realized their own need for local support and accepted unification with the Quapaws.  Despite their modest population and their inability to dominate by force, the Quapaws used their new connection with the French to find their place in the local diplomatic section as valued negotiators between established tribes and the early European settlers. The French began to play a vital role in Quapaw politics, by recognizing leaders, and in some cases altering leadership roles. The Quapaw and French relationship played a vital role in the settlement of the Louisiana “colony” although it was understood, that the term was in name only.  The French recognized that they did not truly control the middle continent, and so did other European factions. In the early eighteenth century, the Osage presented with large numbers and  a reputation of  having one of the largest trading systems in North America.  Unlike the Quapaw however, they quickly garnered a reputation for violence.  Because of their threat to other Native American Indians and Europeans, they established a large, dominant empire by the late eighteenth century.  While they were shunned by many neighboring Native America Indian tribes, they cultivated European connections.  General discord between other Native American groups furthered the power of the Osage, as the groups could not unify to defeat them.  Like the Quapaw, the Osage and French formed alliances, but the French did not influence the political climate of the Osage as they did with the Quapaw.  The French used the Osage to protect the colony of Lousiana against the British, and in exchange the Osage gained guns and ammunition.  When the British won the Seven Year’s War, the climate, although subtly began to change, as France ceded the Western half of Lousiana to Spain.  Spain realized that they would need make the Osage allies in order to protect them from the British, but they were under the impression that the French had controlled the Osage and had ruled Louisiana.  The reality was that the Quapaw, and later the  Osage had allowed the French Presence in the Loiusiana Colony in trade for the power that the alliegance had provided, and the French, and subsequently Spanish, were only able to maintain their land claims by appeasing the Osages.