Charles Melvin Hudson, Jr. (1932–2013) was an anthropologist, professor of anthropology and history at the University of Georgia. He was a leading scholar on the history and culture of Native Americans in the Southeastern United States, and also published a book mapping the expedition of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in the mid-16th century in the Southeast.
Born in 1932, Hudson grew up on a farm in Owen County, Kentucky, and attended local schools.
He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. After the war, he used the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Kentucky, receiving a bachelor's degree in anthropology in 1958. He pursued graduate studies in anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, earning an M.A. (1962) and a Ph.D. (1965).
Upon earning his doctorate, he became a faculty member in the anthropology department at the University of Georgia. He served there for 35 years, until his 2000 retirement, as a professor of anthropology and history. In retirement, Hudson returned to Kentucky. He died there on June 8, 2013.
Hudson published The Southeastern Indians (University of Tennessee Press, 1976), a comprehensive overview of the region's native peoples.
He was perhaps best known for his extensive research of Hernando de Soto's 1539–1543 expedition across the Southeast. In 1984, Hudson and fellow researchers Marvin T. Smith and Chester DePratter mapped the route taken by de Soto's expedition by using written accounts of expedition members, and matching them with geographic features and the results of continuing excavations of archaeological evidence of Indian settlements. Hudson and his colleagues argued that the sites of these settlements formed a chain across the Southeast that marked the path that would have been taken by the expedition.
His other works included Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun (University of Georgia Press, 1998), a detailed account of the de Soto expedition.
A strong advocate of fostering close ties between the disciplines of anthropology and history, Hudson was one of the founders of the Southern Anthropological Society. He served as president of the organization in 1973–74. In 1993–94 he served as president of the American Society for Ethnohistory.
|“||The problem of writing the social history of the Native peoples of the Southeast is formidable. One has to simultaneously represent both synchronic social and cultural systems and the diachronic change that transforms them. One has to both represent the exotic world of the Southeastern chiefdoms and the European world-system that impinged upon them as "storms brewed in other men's lands" and in time destroyed, dissolved, or enveloped by them. And we must do it with the merest fragments of archaeological and oral evidence. As cultural and social beings, the Native peoples of the Southeast have been fundamentally transformed by history several times over, as have we all. If the Native peoples of the Americas are ever to be more than moral fodder for various ideologies—whether left, right, or postmodern—they must find their proper place in the social history of the modern world. Since 1976 some progress has been made on this front by archaeologists, ethnohistorians, and historians, but much more remains to be done.||”|
|— - Charles M. Hudson, 2000|
Hudson's work has had a major influence on subsequent scholars of American Indians in the Southeast. He is frequently cited by various historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists, including the following:
- Paul D. Welch- Associate Professor at Southern Illinois University.
- Patricia Galloway-Associate Professor at University of Texas-Austin.
- Theda Perdue-Professor of Southern Culture at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Kathleen DuVal- Assistant Professor of Southern Culture at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Peter N. Peregrine- Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University.
- Stephen Cornell- Professor, Department of Sociology, The University of Arizona.
- J. William Harris- Professor of History, University of New Hampshire.
- Eric Everett Bowne- Professor, Department of Anthropology, Arkansas Tech University.
In his retirement, Hudson began writing historical novels.
- Hudson, Charles M., The Southeastern Indians. University of Tennessee Press. 1976. ISBN 0-87049-248-9
- Hudson, Charles M., Black Drink: A Native American Tea. University of Georgia Press. 1979. ISBN 0-8203-0462-X
- Hudson, Charles M., Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun: Hernando De Soto and the South's Ancient Chiefdoms, University of Georgia Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8203-1888-4
- Hudson, Charles M., Conversations with the High Priest of Coosa. University of North Carolina Press. 2003. ISBN 0-8078-5421-2
- Hudson, Charles M. and Carmen Chaves Tesser, The Forgotten Centuries. University of Georgia Press. 1994. ISBN 0-8203-1654-7
- Hudson, Charles M. (Editor), Red, White, and Black.
- Hudson, Charles M., The Juan Pardo Expeditions: Exploration of the Carolinas and Tennessee, 1566–1568. University of Alabama Press. 2005. ISBN 978-0-8173-5190-8
- Hudson, Charles M., The Packhorseman. University of Alabama Press. 2009. ISBN 978-0-8173-5540-1
- Mississippian culture
- Southeastern Ceremonial Complex
- Coosa chiefdom
- Black drink
- Hernando de Soto
- University of Georgia
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Obituary for Charles Hudson, Jr., http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/onlineathens/obituary.aspx?pid=165292224
- Thomas Pluckhahn and Robbie Ethridge, eds., Light on the Path: The Anthropology and History of the Southeastern Indians (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006), pp. 9–12.
- "Reply to Mary Churchill". Retrieved September 19, 2008.