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Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America
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Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  545 ratings  ·  37 reviews
In the beginning, North America was Indian country. But only in the beginning. After the opening act of the great national drama, Native Americans yielded to the westward rush of European settlers. Or so the story usually goes. Yet, for three centuries after Columbus, Native people controlled most of eastern North America and profoundly shaped its destiny. In Facing East f ...more
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published December 14th 2001 by Harvard University Press (first published 2001)
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Jason Palmer
Another book that no U.S history teacher should be without. This book debunks so many myths and popular notions about the Native Americans that I came away feeling my mind had been purged of generations of stereotypes propogated both by Native Americans themselves and the popular media; and I have a BA in the archaeology and anthropology of the prehistoric Great Basin. There is no attempt to glorify,vilify, or neatly simplify any native tribe (or conglomeration of tribes that are now thought of ...more
Nisha
Seriously, this is one very bizarre text to classify. At times, I'm deluded enough to think that the information is new and really perceptive, until I realize that most of the anecdotes are fiction. Richter creates these scenarios to make up for the lack of information of the time period, especially from the Indian POV.

I did enjoy the chapter about the myths, like Pocahontas and King Phillip and all.

It was a good try on capturing the Indian perception of facing east to European explorers and se
...more
Matthew
Really brilliant. All of the familiar stories--contact, Pocahontas, King Philip--with a 180 degree spin, with a lot of unfamiliar stories--indigenous trade networks, the Indian face of the imperial wars--that radically reorients the story of American history. It's a shame that it ends with Indian Removal in Jacksonian America, rather than tracking the story beyond the Mississippi, because I'm sure that Richter would do some magic with those "familiar" stories too. But it does say "Early America" ...more
Samuel
The settlement of the American West is usually told, well, facing west. Daniel K. Richter has us face east instead by adopting the vantage point of Native Americans. He begins in St. Louis, where the Arch was erected to frame the westward gaze through "the gateway to the West." Ritcher points out that it is just as practical--perhaps easier even--to look eastward through the Arch and symbolically stand in the place of Native Americans.

Although firsthand primary sources are largely lacking to tel
...more
Mike Hankins
Great book -- looks at colonization of North American from a Native American perspective. Tries to, at least. Some people might not like his "constructed narratives." Essentially, since we don't have a lot of written records, Richter is piecing together European writings with anthropological and archaeological evidence to tell stories about what "might" have happened, or what was "likely" to have happened. Maybe not ideal for a historian, but its useful, and sheds a lot of light on the Indian pe ...more
Joseph Stieb
Following the appropriate title, Richter flips our view of the history of the then future United States by facing east from the Native experience and telling history from their perspective. Unfortunately, as Richter notes, anyone working on Native Americans in this period is looking at a limited set of sources, most of which "face west" and are written by Europeans. Bringing out the native experience requires some speculation and imagination, which Richter successfully brings to this book. He te ...more
Sarah
"Read" for comps. Really read in November for Spring 2010 teaching.
Tim
Richter's book is the best kind of history. It acknowledges the limits of its methods as it bursts open a new vantage on American colonial history, that of native peoples. It is a thoughtful synthesis, offering grounded speculation and reconstructions, and clear prose and conclusions. In relating to one another, native cultures primarily sought reciprocity and connection where European settlers sought profit and power, each looking for advantage and some measure of control. Of course, that is to ...more
Fungus Gnat
Richter tells the story of the colonial history of the United States from the Indian perspective, facing east instead of west. The Indians’ “discovery of Europe” was economically, ecologically, and epidemiologically catastrophic for them, as Richter tells it. And Richter tells it well, conveying shock value dispassionately, eschewing noble-savage tropes and ideologically charged arguments and terms, and letting the story speak for itself.

As my knowledge of American Indians has been limited to gr
...more
Mary
This is a revolutionary attempt to turn early American history on its head: the story, not of the European "discovery" of the New World (and, incidentally, its earlier inhabitants), but a chronicle of Native American discovery of Europeans (and, incidentally, the world from which they came.) Limiting himself to the "earliest" story, he "looks East" as various groups "see" Europeans for the first time (Spanish, French, Dutch or English), begin to understand a world very different from their own, ...more
Singodsuperior
Argument: Facing east on our past, seeing early America as Indian country, tracing histories truly native to the continent, we might find ways to focus more productively on our future.

"Facing East from Indian Country" is "new Indian History" focusing on the Northeast Native cultures and there reactions to Europeans. One way he does this through looking at the trade economy which emegerged,and the ways in which both sides used accomodation to obtain wants and needs.
Kurt
This book was a little too "scholarly" for my tastes, but it was still quite interesting. It covers the period of time from the European discovery of America up until the end of the War of 1812 -- the period that saw the complete upheaval (I hesitate, but just barely, to use the words "systematic destruction" or "ethnic cleansing") of Native American culture in what is now the eastern United States. It is a fascinating and extremely sorrowful history that I became aware of only because of my own ...more
Joshua
I read this monograph for an Early American colloquium in grad school. Richter is a persuasive historian and a lucid writer. I would recommend Facing East for anyone interested in Native American history, especially one that captures the unfolding of European colonization and the United States through Native American perspectives.
Josh
This is just well done. i wish he did more about indians living near whites, not outside the frontier, but whatever, it was a darn good book, should change people's perspectives.
Meredith
If I hadn't been assigned this for class I would have put it down IMMEDIATELY. There is NOTHING new to learn from this book.
Kaiti
Interesting in some respects, but I don't think it accomplished what it set out to do. It definitely still feels euro-centric, especially with regards to its sources, and some parts felt really condescending. Still an interesting read, though.
Ralph Orr
I read this book after reading both 1491 and 1493. I highly recommend all three. While 1491 and 1493 give broad and fascinating insights into the pre-and-post-Columbian Americas, including ecological, agricultural, sociological, political and economic events, Facing East attempts to present the Eastern American Indian view of the expansion of European settlements between the founding of Jamestown and the Presidency of Andrew Jackson. Readers will find all three books well worth their time.
Linda
Richter's slant on Native American lifeways, the discussion of how long Native Americans and Europeans associated before King Philip's War, his ideas about rationales behind Pocahontas' actions, etc were refreshing reminders that when writing/reading history about Native Americans it is often told from the European point of view. Richter incorporated cultural beliefs of Native Americans in his interpretations of their actions during early colonial America that provided much food for thought.
lisa jahnel
Aug 09, 2007 lisa jahnel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All those interested in Native American history
Shelves: history
Want to learn the real story of Pocohantas and what her real name was? Well..this is the book for you. This book takes a look at relations between the tribes and the first settlers along the east coast. The first of the book is dedicated to busting the myths that have been perpetuated through childrens movies and happy history. This takes an honest look at what life was like for the Algonquin, Iriquois and other tribes of the East Coast.
Cathleen
very readable, interesting perspective on westward expansion. I am looking forward to picking up Richter's other book on relationships between natives and settlers in Pennsylvania. I am reading these books for work, but am glad that I have the excuse of writing a background note to explore this subject.
Paul
Although detailed and a bit challenging for Middle School level students, this book is well researched and very informative. It is an excellent source for providing students with incentive to examine content material [colonization of North America:] from multiple cultural perspectives.
Sharon Miller
Informative, erudite, reasonable. I had to face some previous assumptions regarding my limited, if informed, education, of the subject. So much to confirm, so much to understand, this topic will provide material for a lifelong inquiry. A germane and important book on the way.
Bradley
Reads like a manifesto for a new generation of scholars studying early America. This is truly a remarkable work blending scholarship and imagination to recreate the perspective of Native peoples during the pre-, proto-, and post-Contact eras. Hard not to like this book.
Jen
A really interesting book about how Native Americans actually had some agency in what was happening during the colonial American period. It also turns traditional "Indian stories" around and shows how Indians were clever in playing colonial powers off one another.
Laura Lee
Vaulable shift in perspective.
Abe
A good book that provides a nice insight into an indigenous perspective of the encounter. Richter deals with the New England region and the established economic networks that indigenous peoples used to trade with Europeans.
Jerome
An interesting and well written book on the relations between the invading Europeans and the Native Americans. As much as I am interested in the Native people I find these books to be very depressing to read.
Sarah
Great look at colonial America from the perspective of Indians. Richter does a masterful job of integrating knowledge from anthropology, archaeology, and history in order to recover missing voices.
George
Excellent account of the impact the European arrival had on the aborigines of the New World. The book provides a unique and fascinating perspective on the age old story of "discovery".
John Hansen
It's a fascinating perspective, but the writing is fair and his admission that the first chapter is largely speculative makes this a book I wante to like more, but couldn't.
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