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An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

(ReVisioning American History #3)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  4,903 ratings  ·  821 reviews
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 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 reg
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Beacon Press
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Mariah Clark I would definitely recommend this book as a good starting place. I would also suggest that you find and read books written by Native authors and schol…moreI would definitely recommend this book as a good starting place. I would also suggest that you find and read books written by Native authors and scholars rather than white authors/scholars. (less)
Debbie Yes. Photos, maps, some artwork, definitions.

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Amy Sturgis
I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.

First, I should say that I recognize what a herculean proposition it would be to create a history of the United States as experienced by its Indigenous inhabitants; I greatly respect both Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz for accepting the challenge and Beacon Press for its foresight in publishing its ReVisioning American History series; and I think this book is an extremely important one. I hope it will have far-reaching ripple effects in th
I'll keep this simple: if you read this exceptionally researched and beautifully written book and still think the United States is great or has ever been great, you need to take a long hard look in your mirror, then ask your god for forgiveness.
Always Pouting
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book as a gift from a friend and I feel really grateful. I don't want to say I enjoyed the book per se because I didn't really. It was quite hard reading about all the ugly things we've done as a country to the indigenous people here and everywhere honestly. Most of these things I hadn't even heard of before so in that sense I'm really glad I read it and I know about all of it now. The thread traced between our initial colonization of this land and our ongoing militarism and imperial ...more
J.M. Hushour
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Not so much a history of the Indigenous Peoples of North America as much as a re-telling of American history that actually includes their unfortunate role within it, which is way more prominent in ways you haven't imagined.
This is a succinct, powerful read whose basic premise, the US is a settler-colonial power, screams at you throughout.
The sections on the plight and horrific fate of the IPs are worth it alone, but the author does a helluva job revisioning America's history by showing the roots
"An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States" by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is a good overview of U.S. history from the perspective of the Indigenous Peoples of North America.

This is an important book. This is not a pleasant book to read.

Dunbar-Ortiz demonstrates that the United States, since its founding, has been a colonial-settler empire. She discusses several popular, big concept myths that obscure the reality of the United States: The founding myth of the Thirteen Colonies breaking fr
Danika at The Lesbrary
This was a difficult read. The events covered are—of course--brutal, and there is so much to take in about the unimaginable cruelty of the white colonists of the Americas. Every time I read about colonization (which is ongoing), I learn it is somehow is even worse than I previously thought.

This was also difficult in the sense that it is a ton of information to fit into one book, including a lot of numbers, names, dates, etc. There is so much covered, but here are some of things I took away from
Johnny Cordova
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
While I am in passionate agreement with the thrust of this book — that the United States is a “crime scene” founded on a systematic strategy of genocide — I found Dunbar-Ortiz to be an infuriatingly unreliable narrator. It’s unfortunate because I was excited to pick up this book and really, really wanted to like it.

Early in the first chapter she describes indigenous diets as “mostly vegetarian” and persists throughout the book to refer to various tribes as “indigenous farmers.” While it’s true t
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Not since David Stannard's "American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World" have I read such a clear history of the United States. In no way do I want to diminish from the great work of Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" but that text did not stay with me or speak to me in the same way that Dunbar-Ortiz's book has. It is readable enough to assign to a high school audience, so if you are a parent trying to supplement the nonsense that generally passes for US history consid ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
The case that the dispossession of Native Americans and the seizure of their lands constituted a genocide and a form of colonialism/imperialism in the modern-day United States is an easy and powerful one to make. It's frustrating, then, that Dunbar-Ortiz decides to overstate it, bringing in another set of (in my view) unnecessary political positions to the storytelling. This is what turns the book from a work of history to a work of activism.

D-O comments on the activism/academic distinction, dec
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The epigraph and concluding quote in the final chapter of this book sum up why it's such an important read:

"That the continued colonization of American Indian nations, peoples, and lands provides the United States the economic and material resources needed to cast its imperialist gaze globally is a fact that is simultaneously obvious within - and yet continuously obscured by - what is essentially a settler colony's national construction of itself as an ever more perfect multicultural, multiracia
One of the (many) things that unsettles me in my regular engagements with US history is the near total absence of any discussion, or seeming awareness, of the country as a colony of settlement. The country’s indigenous peoples are barely considered in the national story or for that matter in most of the historical texts. We see it in the subtle (and not so subtle) language of US history – in the ‘settlement’ of the frontier; in the ‘opening up’ of the west, in the ‘last’ of the Mohicans, of the ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was a life changing experience. So much history of which I was ignorant explained and documented. My mind was blown on every page. For instance: "Scalping" was a practice brought to the colonies by the Ulster Scots who had practiced it first on the Irish, and then on the Indigenous peoples occupying the colonies.
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
A brief history of the United States, as seen through the lens of the American Indians who were thoroughly slaughtered, removed and erased from their own lands.

This is a must-read, and should be mandatory reading for all high school students and general readers of American (US) history. It unravels the layers of propaganda, misinformation and erasing American Indians faced, and debunks many common myths about the lands and peoples of the United States before European colonization.

The first myth
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Ahhh...I'm sad. This is nonfiction and because this was incredibly hurt my heart. I struggle with this topic, even when it is brushed over in fictional stories. I'm half native american and half European. So this book was about my people....both the massacred and the ones with guns. Every book has a slant and that is what I struggle with the most. I want this part of history in whatever story I'm reading the way I want cheesecake.....I want the whole thing and not just a piece.

I'm glad
Kate Savage
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've been having this feeling lately about anti-immigrant xenophobia: that if you were to dig past the hate and into the fear, and then even past the fear -- you'd find shame. A rotting, festering shame of what white settlers did and do to native people. An unacknowledged knowing: our ancestors were murderers, rapists, terrorists, thieves. Instead of speaking the words, we lash out violently against others who immigrate to this land, fearing they'll do what we've done and keep doing. We use the ...more
Jun 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
Yet another example of how we have made calling everyone else racist the new goal of scholarship. Congratulations!

This book should be called "White People Are the Root of All Evil in the World" because it has little to do with the history of America's indigenous peoples. To even call this book a "history" is being extremely generous with that word as it is mostly her opinions or opinions of other people she happens to agree with. To take only one example, she completely discounts the role that i
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: indigenous
The NODAPL struggle in North Dakota over the last year has encouraged me to revisit and deepen my understanding of what it means to be indigenous in the US. Reading this book, wading through a history of genocide, offered a number of important reorientations for me. As far as I know, there aren't other comprehensive histories of the US from the perspective of indigenous people's, however this could have been much better. If anyone has any recommendations I'd be excited to look into them.

A few si
Elizabeth Hall
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
The United States understands genocide to be a terrible thing that other countries have done, or are doing. The eradication of an entire population—civilian women, men, and children—along with their culture and national sovereignty—is something we condemn in our media. When we see genocide happening elsewhere, we debate if and when we should step in with economic sanctions or military action—when it is time to put a stop to a crime against humanity. Rarely, if ever, do we examine our own history ...more
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book free from for review.
A good book for those interested in the beginnings of how America was born from the standpoint of the Indigenous People and those that claimed that this land is MY LAND NOW.
Interesting points of view from what can be gathered from both sides.
I consider this book as a reference for history students as well as casual readers of the early Indians and the colonial settlers.
Another good book that I'm glad I won from
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Using the premise that the United States’ history is one of “settler colonialism,” (wherein the settler participates in genocide and land theft), Dunbar-Ortiz discusses the reasons behind colonization of the land and the many atrocities committed to the indigenous people going back to pre-Revolutionary War days. Read the rest of the review on my blog: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.c... ...more
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race-racism, non-fict
This book is so important for all descendants of colonizers and current settlers of indigenous land to read. I learned so much. It was very difficult to look face-on at the genocide wrought by white settlers (my own history) which is explored in great detail in this book. Such a necessary read.
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An important and necessary perspective. This book opened my eyes.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Required reading. My only criticism is that it was a bit redundant at times but I think that's because horrible things were in fact done to indigenous peoples over and over and over again.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I learned a lot from this book and am glad I read it. It made me think, which is the only thing I really want from a book. Even though I was under no illusions regarding the United States and its treatment of Indigenous peoples, there were many times I had to put the book down to take a few minutes to process what I had just read before continuing.

I think Dunbar-Ortiz does an admirable job in condensing such a complex and long history into a short, very readable 240 pages. She does an excellent
Aug 23, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is based on an important big idea. That is, that we need another way of segmenting our understanding of US history that reflects the history of indigenous people in the United States rather than accepting a narrative of denial that has been reinforced through centuries of US history through different variations (outright denial of the survival of indigenous people today, the manifest destiny narrative that poses that atrocities against indigenous people were indeed atrocious and yet in ...more
Rachel Mans McKenny
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: litsy-fem-bc, non-fic
Let's be honest: most K-12 education in the US does a poor job of exploring the US History beyond the traditional colonialist narrative, and many people (including myself) barely looked for more on the topic when and if we get to college. This book is an excellent primer to build on the entire history of the US through the lens of the colonized (both on the continent and, interestingly, abroad, as well).

This book is a sucker-punch full of testimony and research, and native voices prevail in the
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To shamelessly steal from the Homeland opening credits, which have been sticking in my thoughts since reading this book, "the first revolution is when you change your mind about how you look at things, and see there might be another way to look at it that you have not been shown." (Gil Scott-Heron) This is a serious eye-opener and a view of American history that I have not been shown until now.

This is an uncomfortable book that won't make you feel great about American history, but the importance
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It definitely took me a while to read this book--mostly because I read before I sleep at night and it is very hard to read about genocide and be able to fall asleep. This is one of the best books I have ever read for understanding the United States. Everyone in the US should read it. Everyone.
Evelyn Woagh
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a really important book, despite its problems. I learned a lot, I see things more clearly, and I'm more conscious of the nature and ongoing effects of imperialism and colonialism. But I'm not about to hold this as perfect as others might, who would also seek out alternative histories. I feel similar about this book as I do with Howard Zinn's. Namely, that it was written by an academic, and that the cisgender author has no understanding or willingness to study and talk about, the various ...more
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Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She has been active in the international Indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to national and international social justice issues. After receiving her PhD in history at the University of California at Los Angeles, she taught in the newly establi ...more

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