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An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United…

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (ReVisioning American… (2014)

by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

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Incredibly important book more people should read, but it's a very hard book to read. Definitely dealt with feelings of guilt and shame, but the education I got from this book obviously outweighs my personal feelings. ( )
  MariahLynn12 | Jan 11, 2019 |
This is an ambitious book about a huge topic, and Dunbar-Ortiz has a difficult time doing justice to her subject in such a short volume.

This isn't really a history of indigenous people. This is a history of what white Europeans did (and are still doing) to indigenous people. More white people are named, and more of their actions described, than indigenous individuals.

Dunbar-Ortiz's main thesis is that the long slow genocide of Native Americans is the defining characteristic of the United States, and has served as the inspiration for many aspects of American culture, and has provided the template for American colonialism abroad (Vietnam, Iraq, etc.). Buried in there is her secondary thesis that Native Americans have survived despite 500 years of systematic destruction of their people and culture, but unfortunately she doesn't have much time to discuss how they have managed to do this.

This book is a merciless condemnation of the history of the United States. Dunbar-Ortiz does not hold back in criticizing American colonialism. For example, in discussing how much the quest for gold was a driving force in colonization, she says "The systems of colonization were modern and rational, but its ideological basis was madness."

This book is part of a series called ReVisioning American History for Young People. I would think that in a book aimed at a young audience, Dunbar-Ortiz doesn't explain more of the basic definitions and characteristics of colonialism. I think this is another effect of trying to fit a lot of information into a small volume - I really wish she had been given free reign to do justice to her subject.

Despite all of these criticisms (which I think are probably a result of the publisher's restrictions, not Dunbar-Ortiz's skill), this is a devastating and important book, and I think all Americans should read it or at least be aware of its narrative. ( )
  Gwendydd | Sep 5, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A good primer that covers much of the long history of invasion against indigenous people. The biggest downside is that the breadth of coverage comes at the cost of depth, leaving it to feel more like an overview. ( )
  owen1218 | Jul 12, 2018 |
Tough to rate, would have liked more nuance I had been looking forward to this book for quite awhile to read history of the United States from the POV of the Indigenous peoples. Author Dunbar-Ortiz takes the reader through the formation of the country from looking at some of the mythologies surrounding Natives/Indigenous peoples and how they're portrayed (as constant hunter-gatherers who moved with the hunt) vs. what history actually says, the atrocities committed towards these peoples and more.
Honestly, the book was a struggle. The topic is interesting and it's information that never gets covered unless you take a specialized class or specifically study this in school. It is information that should be transmitted to our students. But the writing is really terrible. The author constantly flips back and forth between providing the historical context of what the European settlers did and how their methods of conquest transmitted to the Americas to the Native peoples. The framework is very important and I found helpful, but the constant switching back and forth made the flow very difficult. Also, as other reviews note: MAPS would have been so helpful. 
Honestly, it also seemed like the author was just very angry. This is perfectly justified and I'm sure I'm imposing probably some of my own discomfort on the fact that I benefit from the government built from this stolen land and heritage. But based on other reviews and my own reading it just seems like some of that clouds the scholarship a bit. Multiple people have pointed out various errors in terminology, understanding, interpretation. Some of this is probably due to political leanings and their feelings stirred up by the book.
But one topic that really intrigued me was the US military's use of Native terms/names for weapons. The author brings up that Osama bin Laden had been codenamed "Geronimo" and I can fully understand why some people would be very unhappy about that. But she then talks about "killing machines and operations" and lists various items that were named using Indigenous names and terminology. However, there are reports that the military actually seeks permission to use those names/terms and even have specific nation members present at official ceremonies. The author doesn't mention this (maybe I missed it?).
I wanted to like this more and think there is good information here. But the writing style was very difficult for me and after seeing the number of errors people have pointed out in various reviews I just feel a bit like I should read other books to supplement this one. Recommend it as a library borrow although it's probably a book that shows up for college classes too. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
This author wrote a book political harangue, not a history. Her facts are incorrect and she uses some facts not relative to the subject to prove her point. In the last third of the book, the harangue intensifies and the story ceases to be about history of the Indian people and more about a left leaning view of US current events. I suppose that, whether one enjoys this book will depend on ones politics. However, if you want to know more about the title subject, history of Indigenous People, read something else. ( )
1 vote buffalogr | Jan 26, 2018 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080700040X, Hardcover)

The first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples
Today, in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized indigenous communities and nations comprising nearly three million people. These individuals are the descendants of the once fifteen million people who inhabited this land and are the subject of the latest book by noted historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.  In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the indigenous peoples was genocidal and imperialist—designed to crush the original inhabitants. Spanning more than three hundred years, this classic bottom-up history significantly reframes how we view our past. Told from the viewpoint of the indigenous, it reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:59 -0400)

2015 Recipient of the American Book AwardThe first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples ?Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.In An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States , Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. Shockingly, as the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: "The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them." ? Spanning more than four hundred years, this classic bottom-up peoples' history radically reframes US history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative.From the Hardcover edition.… (more)

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