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The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  404 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Now available in paperback, The Earth Shall Weep is a groundbreaking, critically acclaimed history of the Native American peoples. Combining traditional historical sources with new insights from ethnography, archaeology, Indian oral tradition, and years of his original research, James Wilson weaves a historical narrative that puts Native Americans at the center of their st ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published March 3rd 2000 by Grove Press (first published December 31st 1998)
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Sep 28, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Americans, white folks, history buffs
Shelves: read-in-2008
This book was clear, well-written, and utterly horrifying. I think it's information all Americans should have, and are unlikely to be taught in public school. Made me realize a number of things, including how uneven "traditional" education is, even about distributing MISinformation about the story of American Indians. I never knew, for example, what a galvanizing and controversial time the New Deal in the 1930's was for many tribes, nor had I heard about the fish-ins in the 1960's, which took pl ...more
Dylan Horrocks
Nov 21, 2015 Dylan Horrocks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, america
Excellent historical overview. Beautifully written; a compelling narrative that intelligently explores the complex, varied processes of colonisation in North America: territorial, political, social and cultural. This is the history every American should know about: a history that has profoundly shaped the development of North American states and societies. It is also a story of survival and struggle that continues into the 21st century. There are insights here, too, that are relevant to the hist ...more
Sep 23, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who's read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or visited a reservation
It is good to get an alternative point to keep everything in perspective. This history text isn't one that you sit down and read front to cover; it certainly has a staggering amount of information in it. It covers the history of our country from the native viewpoint from first contact to about the mid 1980's. Some things I already knew thanks to an American Indian course I took in college, but there was a lot there that I was not familiar with. I think the author did a good job of being objectiv ...more
Greg Beale
Jan 23, 2015 Greg Beale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
an in depth and moving book

As a 1/16th Cherokee...really ...I am struggling to deal with history. Worse my great great grandfather was lynched as a Cherokee married to a whit woman. It becomes personal when you discover that in your family history. I was also once a Stanford Indian, actually a football player who followed Prince Lightfoot out of the tunnel to do battle. I was for the mascot change, and the Redskins and Braves and Utes have to go. I am haunted by this book. Most Americans refuse
Oct 26, 2012 Gwen rated it really liked it
A bit out of date as far as current developments; it was published in 2000. Excellent historical perspectives, NOT focusing on the Great Plains (Custer etc.) as most general books on this topic tend to do. I especially appreciated the historical perspectives on the Southwest and California.
Michael Elkon
Jun 30, 2016 Michael Elkon rated it really liked it
After I read about the Wright Brothers, which was a story of some of the best aspects of American society (the plucky brothers who came from a middle class background and, without the benefits of substantial investment or formal education, made themselves world-famous by inventing the first powered flight machine), I decided to read about one of the worst. James Wilson doesn't sugarcoat anything in his book about Native Americans and their demise at the hands of Europeans. There's no way to come ...more
Jun 12, 2015 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: native-american
I can't believe I read the whole thing! Seriously this is a big book crammed with so much information on the native american peoples that it really is mind blowing. The amount of research to put together something this comprehensive is staggering. For all of that the book is a bit dry and does get a bit repetitive concerning the abuses suffered to the indigenous peoples. For anyone wanting an all in one book that tells what occurred in early America with the first contact of the Europeans to pre ...more
Jul 24, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it
This books starts out slowly and isn't always the most readable. But it gets traction after the first couple of chapters, and is a good narrative covering Native Americans from pre-contact to the late 20th century. I particularly enjoyed the sections about the Great Plains, Southwest, and West Coast, since those are the tribes that I am most familiar with. The final chapters covering the last century are interesting as well, although one is left still wondering what the best path for the future ...more
Rick Lee James
Nov 10, 2015 Rick Lee James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book is so well researched. I truly feel that the American Indians to this day are the neighbor whose suffering we are ignoring as American citizens. Reading the heartbreaking history of those who were here before us makes me realize why some people are so scared of illegal immigrants, it's because illegal immigrants came here and pushed out the natives. We must do better, we must somehow make things right. I strongly recommend this book to every citizen of the United States. It w
Liesje Leest
Aug 26, 2015 Liesje Leest rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, 2015
The Earth Shall Weep tells the history of North American tribes after the arrival of the European settlers. The book is dived in sections that talk about different areas of what is now the US. Because of this the book makes the differences between the cultures of the tribes very clear. It also makes it clear how many people where effect, lost their lives, how many cultures were destroyed. A very sad book.

The book also dedicates a chapter to the lived of Native Americans in America today. The ch
Nov 30, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
Informative overview of Native (North) American History, from First Contact to the present (well, late Nineties). Wilson describes the evolution of attitudes held by European settlers regarding Native Americans - these attitudes have alternated between hatred and condescension. Wilson also describes the horrific acts of violence committed against Native Americans. Sand Creek, The Long Walk, and Wounded Knee are some of the better known atrocities in U.S. History. However, the settlers in New Eng ...more
Michael Blackmore
Aug 10, 2014 Michael Blackmore rated it really liked it
I've read more than my share of Native American history related books and this is an excellent overview. It covers the history well without neglecting the scope of the tragedy of the history. Definitely recommended.
Jacob Lines
Jan 16, 2015 Jacob Lines rated it liked it
Shelves: american-history
This was an excellent history of North America’s indigenous inhabitants. Wilson gives a good picture of the complexity of the hundreds of native nations, tribes, and groups. He covers 500 years of history in about 450 pages – no small feat. Based on my college courses and other reading, I found this to be a very dependable and thorough history. Of course, if you are easily depressed by stories of massacres and genocide, you might want to skip it. Because a lot of this history is really sad and d ...more
Michael Wise
Nov 30, 2015 Michael Wise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Informative to say the least

My first time seeing a reservation was traveling in Montana. I was appalled at the conditions there. I, quite ignorantly, assumed it was their fault. I thought to myself "why would they live in such deplorable conditions?", and "surely they could do better", and I'm still not sure of those answers because this bok doesn't answer them sufficiently. I do know how and why they got there. I have a profound respect for the Indian now and I encourage you to forget what you
Jan 26, 2013 Hannah rated it really liked it
Its difficult to review a non fiction book for me, as its not my usual fare. Nor is Native American history as a matter of fact, but I bought the ebook on something like a whim. I'll give it my best shot.
There was a lot of information in this book that was completely (and a little unfortunately) new to me. Its opened my eyes to history from a fresh point of view, and expanded my idea of Native American culture tremendously. There were a few opinions, such as this one:

"..conservatives tend to c
Oct 06, 2015 Brenda rated it it was amazing
This book has been the best history book. The true native American history is not taught in America's school system. The fact that European settlers can come to someone else's country and literally try to exterminate an entire group of people is sickening. What they did was so horrific. The worst part is that they thought they were correct.
Native Americans are growing stronger however they will never forget the horror.
Thank you James Wilson for pulling no punches and telling the facts.
Jan 16, 2016 Tom rated it it was amazing
An excellent introduction into the histories and varied cultures of Native Americans. The author begins with what is known of the precolonial histories of tribes and moves forward through the 1990's by regions (Northeast, Southeast, New York & Ohio Valley, Great Plains, Northwest, Southwest and Far West). Included are many founding stories and quotes by Indian leaders as well opinions that reflect the views of colonists, settlers and politicians of varied persuasions. I appreciated the autho ...more
Paul W
Mar 12, 2016 Paul W rated it it was amazing
A fascinating insight into the rich history of Native Americans and the devastating impact on Native American culture from the collision with European settlers, which reduced the Native American population from circa 10 million to less than 250,000 in four centuries.
Jun 23, 2014 David rated it really liked it
Having American-Indian on my father's side, I try to read at least one book a year to learn more of my father's origins. I found this book very informative putting Indian history more in "proper" context.
Jul 25, 2014 Monique rated it really liked it
This was an enlightening book for me. I didn't realise the lengths the settlers had gone to to try to eradicate the native Indians. Most horrifically for me the author tells it how it was no glossing over the facts. Throwing live babies into fires brings this horror home to you. It was well written and the author had clearly researched in depth the facts. I'm under no illusion that atrocities like this happen every day all over the world but I was saddened and somewhat ashamed that the invading ...more
Feb 28, 2009 Mark rated it really liked it
I just finished this book. It is definitely more of a skimming of history of the Native Americans since Europeans came...but it has helped me find a bunch of other books of specific histories. It is well written, and of course, heart breaking. This is definitely a book that you have something on the lighter side to read after.

The bibliography is a treasure trove. Since it is written by area, he set up the bibliography in the same way. I have circled at least 50 more books to check out...I will h
One grindingly depressing example of how the Indians have been fucked over for the last few hundred years one after another. Not that this depressiveness is a bad thing in this case. Some of the stories are familiar--the Sand Creek massacre, the Nez Perce, etc. But most are something new, like the almost total annihilation of the California Indians. It bogged down some when he got to the 20th Century, maybe because he felt that it was a period not that well known, or maybe because he had access ...more
Jim Jones
Jan 06, 2013 Jim Jones rated it liked it
Wilson really drills hard into the continual mistreatment and abuse of The Indian population by "Euro-Americans" (his term) from the 1600s through the modern era. It's a sad tale that needs to be told - but I kept thinking through the whole book: "lather, rinse, repeat". The stories all began to sound familiar after a while. While he did give some insight into the geographic and cultural distinctions of various tribes, I would have appreciated more of a primer on who lived where, their cultural ...more
Jul 30, 2009 Caitlin rated it liked it
Shelves: booksforschool, 2009
This book is a bit long, but an excellent read. I always knew that European settlers mistreated the native peoples of America, but never truly understood the extent. Wilson (who is white, I must add, because that certainly affects his view) covers every major region of the United States. He describes the cultures and civilizations before, during, and after first contact with English, French, Dutch, and Spanish settlers. He then follows the struggles of native people to today. I thought it was a ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Renee rated it really liked it
I learned so much from this book about the perspectives of different tribes across the US. From the very beginning, the author tries to get the euro-American reader to put aside their own cultural assumptions and see how the tradition and culture of native tribes influenced their interactions with non-Indians.
Really, just learning the details of the treatment of the tribes by Europeans is quite horrific. Gross mistreatment was more the rule than the exception. This history is one all Americans
Colleen O'grady
Jun 20, 2010 Colleen O'grady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned about the American Indians of the past and the modern era and the tragic life that some lead, about the casinos on the reservations, and I learnt of the Indians who fight to live a good life despite all the descrimination. This work of Wilson's has opened my eyes to what many Indian tribes went through and in a way, similar to our own Australian aborigine
Nov 06, 2008 Drick rated it it was amazing
This book will make you want to weep when you realize the genocide that wwasperpetrted in thename of "progress" and "civilization" and Christian mission to eradicate the rich cultures of Native Americans. This book gives a good overview of the history and culture of native American groups all through the U.S. A difficult and dense read, but powerful nonetheless
Bob Price
May 25, 2012 Bob Price rated it liked it
The Earth Shall Weep tells the more horrific parts of American history from the Native American side.

Decidely biased (but history bias is acceptable), this book speaks to a hidden part of American history.

While it is not the most well written book, it still deserves a place on a historians bookshelf.

(incomplete review...more to come)
Dec 15, 2012 Cindy rated it really liked it
This is such a well researched, well written history of America! The history we tend to learn in primary school is very Euro-centric because most American's roots are European. This is a whole new perspective that really opened my eyes to how much larger the story of American history really is. Definitely recommended!
Katya S
Jul 20, 2009 Katya S rated it really liked it
Very informative and haunting. Even for me who was fairly aware of native ameircan history, I was shocked and saddened by a great deal of what I have read here.
Important for people to read to know what happened and understand why things are still so backwards today. 8.5 stars if I could
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JAMES WILSON was born and brought up near Cambridge, and studied History at Oxford University. He now divides his time between London and France.

In 1975 James received a Ford Foundation grant to research and write The Original Americans: US Indians, for the Minority Rights in London. Over the next twenty-five years he travelled widely in the US and Canada, working on – among other projects – a num
More about James Wilson...

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“Q: You told us a moment ago they were dying off pretty fast? A: Yes, sir, the old people are. Q: Is there any special cause for that? A: Nothing; there is no new disease; I don’t see anything other than the want of hope.” 0 likes
“Remarkably, we still have a ‘wild’ Indian’s account of his capture and incarceration. In 1878, when he was an old man, a Kamia called Janitin told an interviewer: I and two of my relatives went down ... to the beach ... we did no harm to anyone on the road, and ... we thought of nothing more than catching and drying clams in order to carry them to our village. While we were doing this, we saw two men on horseback coming rapidly towards us; my relatives were immediately afraid and they fled with all speed, hiding themselves in a very dense willow grove ... As soon as I saw myself alone, I also became afraid ... and ran to the forest ... but already it was too late, because in a moment they overtook me and lassoed and dragged me for a long distance, wounding me much with the branches over which they dragged me, pulling me lassoed as I was with their horses running; after this they roped me with my arms behind and carried me off to the Mission of San Miguel, making me travel almost at a run in order to keep up with their horses, and when I stopped a little to catch my wind, they lashed me with the lariats that they carried, making me understand by signs that I should hurry; after much travelling in this manner, they diminished the pace and lashed me in order that I would always travel at the pace of the horses. When we arrived at the mission, they locked me in a room for a week; the father [a Dominican priest] made me go to his habitation and he talked to me by means of an interpreter, telling me that he would make me a Christian, and he told me many things that I did not understand, and Cunnur, the interpreter, told me that I should do as the father told me, because now I was not going to be set free, and it would go very bad with me if I did not consent in it. They gave me atole de mayz[corn gruel] to eat which I did not like because I was not accustomed to that food; but there was nothing else to eat. One day they threw water on my head and gave me salt to eat, and with this the interpreter told me that I was now Christian and that I was called Jesús: I knew nothing of this, and I tolerated it all because in the end I was a poor Indian and did not have recourse but to conform myself and tolerate the things they did with me. The following day after my baptism, they took me to work with the other Indians, and they put me to cleaning a milpa [cornfield] of maize; since I did not know how to manage the hoe that they gave me, after hoeing a little, I cut my foot and could not continue working with it, but I was put to pulling out the weeds by hand, and in this manner I did not finish the task that they gave me. In the afternoon they lashed me for not finishing the job, and the following day the same thing happened as on the previous day. Every day they lashed me unjustly because I did not finish what I did not know how to do, and thus I existed for many days until I found a way to escape; but I was tracked and they caught me like a fox; there they seized me by lasso as on the first occasion, and they carried me off to the mission torturing me on the road. After we arrived, the father passed along the corridor of the house, and he ordered that they fasten me to the stake and castigate me; they lashed me until I lost consciousness, and I did not regain consciousness for many hours afterwards. For several days I could not raise myself from the floor where they had laid me, and I still have on my shoulders the marks of the lashes which they gave me then.” 0 likes
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