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Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance
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Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  696 ratings  ·  104 reviews
How two centuries of Indigenous resistance created the movement proclaiming “Water is life”

In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenous protest movement in the twenty-first century. Water Protectors knew this battle for n
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Verso
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Randall Wallace
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Did you know that Thanksgiving Day originally celebrated the brutal slaughter of 700 native Pequots in the Connecticut colony in 1637 “in honor of the bloody victory”? Did you know that Clark of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition told the Lakota headman that he was sent by Thomas Jefferson, who could “have them all destroyed”? Four hundred years of the arrogance of American ‘diplomacy’ in one sentence. Jefferson went further and had advised Lewis to kidnap chiefs or their children to better ma ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Alleen Brown of the The Intercept interviewed Professor Estes recently (07 MAR 2019), which provides an enticing hors d’oeuvre:

“When you subjugate a people, you not only take their land and their language, their identity, and their sense of self — you also take away any notion of a future. The reason I chose this name is because in this particular era of neoliberal capitalism, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism [the emp
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
crucial, readable, and compelling deep history of the #NoDAPL movement not as an event, but as a continuation of anti-colonial and anti-imperial resistance by Indigenous peoples worldwide. Estes' intervention is deeply important for three main reasons:

ONE it situates the No DAPL uprising as part of a very deep history, showing how it was not a spontaneous uprising but the product of more than a century of resistance to settler colonialism in the great plains

TWO it relates this history with verve
Edward Rathke
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-history
A fascinating and depressing book, though it does aim for levels of hope amid the tragedy. This seems to be the continual story of native peoples in the americas--horror and tragedy.

Estes does a comprehensive job of analyzing and pulling together the history of native resistance, and trying to demonstrate how this is all one uninterrupted line of continual resistance to colonialism and white supremacy. He touches on the Ghost Dance and Red Power movements, the two massacres at Wounded Knee, and
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to rosalind by: Jason Berger
[read for environmental lit] listened to this on audio; this is one of those books where audio is just me getting the book at first glance/making me actually finish it. i’m sure i’ll be coming back to it many times. we were only assigned the first two chapters & the prologue for my class, in the interest of The Survey, but i ended up reading the whole thing, bc it’s Really Fucking Good.

this book is a history of oceti sakowin activism and resistance, particularly in the 19th & 20th centuries & at
Chandler Sanchez
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Definitely a history that more Americans should be aware of, and one that is incredibly resonant in this political and environmental moment. Estes takes a look at the continuous anti-colonial struggle of indigenous peoples (largely plain tribal nations), using various important case studies to construct a legible testimony to the ongoing struggle against a colonial US. Personally, I wish I’d read it physically rather than audio book so that I could keep better track of the people/organizati
Elizabeth OH
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I read this book cover to cover. Then immediately read it again. Estes' touchstone is NoDAPL for several centuries of indigenous history and resistance, several centuries of settler colonialism and genocide. This book clarifies the ways in which this oppression has been continuous and evolving, from killing indigenous people, to destroying their food sources, to using dams to destroy their land, to the current strategy of outsourcing pollution to indigenous lands at gunpoint. Crucially, Estes al ...more
Pat Rolston
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This will be eye opening for most as there are few histories of America’s indigenous people with such extensive research supporting the narrative. Once again I was woefully ignorant of history of the loosing side. Many times I have thought myself sufficiently knowledgeable of this subject from biographies such as , Black Elk Speaks, Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, History of the Lons Star State, and other revolutionary war histories that discussed indigenous peoples. None were focused solely on t ...more
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding work of research and presentation of Standing Rock in the long history of capitalism and settler colonialism in the US deploying its culture of extractivism, exploitation, and death world to the Inidgenous human and nonhuman beings of this place.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book serves as a useful overview of Native American history and resistance, but for my taste, was too dry and lacked the stories that make history come alive.
Joy Messinger
[5 stars] A retelling of the Indigenous-led actions to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the decades of Indigenous movement building that led to the Standing Rock Reservation encampment. Nick Estes combines his own conversations and recollections during the #NoDAPL actions with oral and written history of Indigenous resistance against settler colonialism and US government genocide, with gender justice, anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, environmental justice, and anti-militarism analysis woven t ...more
I really appreciated this book connecting indigenous resistance to DAPL to the long history of indigenous resistance to US government and private actions aimed at takeover of indigenous land, particularly among the Oceti Sakowin (Lakota, Dakota, Nakota). Estes also links indigenous activism in the US to indigenous movements globally, including to Palestine, which was of personal relevance to me, and I learned from Estes' take on similarities and differences between the two resistance movements. ...more
Montana Goodman
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s helpful to know that this book originated from the author’s dissertation. The book expects some knowledge of Oceti Sakowin (Sioux) history and does no hand holding. However radical a view you think you have, I’m confident this book will make you see the organization of the United States in a new light. The legitimacy of the United States has never been as strong as it portrays, and its villainy is infinitely more disturbing than its people are taught.
Mike Lee
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newfound-titles
An excellent and timely read. The attention to detail and past, present, and future historical and contemporary trends is so well researched and addressed. Everyone who cares about Earth and everything living should read this book. Wophila tanka for writing this.
Graham Cifelli
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
There is a lot of history here thats presented really quick. While I did wish some points (The organizing history of AIM specifically for me) were covered in more depth, nothing was out of context. Written beautifully. Necessary read, my new favorite nonfiction
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This tells the history of indigenous resistance movements within the United States. Starting with a prologue about the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the author takes us back to the first years of colonialism and traces the land rights movements of indigenous people.

History often stops talking about indigenous peoples after colonizers arrive. Estes shows the much longer history of indigenous peoples’ fight, all the way up until the present day.

I had heard of barely any of this his
Sølvi Goard
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kim Kulesza
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm trying to read more works by Native American authors, so this is my second book since starting this endeavor. This book made me angry, but in a positive way. This highlighted the tribulations Native Americans, particularly out in the Plains, have had to undergo since European settlers arrived in North America. There were many parts of the U.S.'s history of expansion that are either glorified or glossed over in typical history classes, and this book highlighted the reality of what expansionis ...more
bibliotekker Holman
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have been waiting for the books to come out that will help those of us who were close to events to both understand and describe what it was all about to ourselves and a broader audience. This is one of those books. The book is even more important coming from a Lakota author steeped in the history, traditions, and language that formed the background for everything that transpired. This is not a comprehensive history of what happened. Instead, Estes, sets events against the broad backdrop of Ame ...more
James Bechtel
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to James by: Brianna
My comments here will be about "Our History is the Future" by Nick Estes (2019) and "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee" by David Treuer (2019). Both books are an intriguing combination of history, journalism (and by journalism, I mean advocacy journalism/political activist journalism), and memoir. The subject matter in both books is almost identical: survival and 'the long tradition of Indigenous resistance.' The reader can easily detect points of agreement on facts and interpretations as well as cl ...more
Early in 2017 a bunch of photos did the social media and other internet rounds; they were of a snowbound camp marked as North American/Turtle Island Indigenous surrounded by heavily armed state forces – militarised sheriff’s offices and police departments mainly. In some, these militarised forces are shown confronting or looked up at by Indigenous men and women on horseback. In so many ways these images screamed colonisation, and the USA’s ‘frontier war’ against the peoples indigenous to the are ...more
Brant Roberts
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly written, Nick Estes’ new book Our History is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance is able to balance reaching a mass audience while forfeiting neither theory nor historiography for simplicity. Centered on Indigenous struggles in the US, he thoroughly documents the work of water protectors and their confrontations with state violence while mirroring similar resistance struggles against oppression throughout the pa ...more
Tom Crehore
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book serves many purposes. It is a family history, an Indigenous history, a political, economic, and cultural history, and a text that defines sovereignty, independence, and governance in a way I had never been taught or thought about. Each chapter discusses a different aspect of tragedy and hope in the experiences of the Oceti Sakowin and other Indigenous people here on Turtle Island.
If "Water is Life," that inspiration is used in the writing. Each sentence and paragraph flows into the nex
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nick Estes is a leading intellectual on the Native American history, issues and activism and he's written an important book. For me a white person/Settler-Colonial he has opened my eyes wider to a problematic history and landscape. I come to this after pursuing, through reading, an education on facts and issues associated with climate change, systemic racism, income inequality and the problematic aspects of capitalism. Toss in several books about the Russian Revolutionary period that I read last ...more
David Martínez
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
When this book was announced late 2018 it immediately generated interest among people in AIS/NAS who were anxious for a book about the #NoDAPL movement, especially one written from the inside. I was among those interested. Naturally, when I saw that Estes would be presenting his work at the 2019 American Indian Studies Association Conference I made a point of attending. Titled "A Book Review Panel," what I experienced was an assortment of Estes's friends, each of whom hand been provided an advan ...more
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book reoriented my thinking about what I thought I knew, revealed an international aspect I had not known, and made me more hopeful for the future than I have been in quite a while.

This book belongs to the genre represented by Howard Zinn's Peoples' History, histories written not from the perspective of the dominant. So, as one mostly aware of traditional tellings of Anglo-Indian relations, I was exposed to a Native telling and interpretation of Indian wars and treaties and land grabs. In t
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it

What began as a relatively small protest at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota regarding the Dakota Access pipeline grew into the largest indigenous protest in history. It went on for several months, through the 2016 election, trended on Twitter, grabbed the attention of celebrities, etc. This is the story of the history of Indigenous resistance and how the protest at Standing Rock came to be.

I'll admit that this was a tough read for many reasons. I didn't follow this protest closely
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
An excellent and incisive examination of the contemporary Standing Rock/#NoDAPL movement through the lens of Indigenous history. Estes frames #NoDAPL as a continuation of Indigenous struggles against territorial dispossession and genocide at the hands of settler colonialism and the American government since the 19th century. He does this by focusing on several distinct time periods, dating from the onset of settler colonialism through the era of widespread dispossession and into the 20th century ...more
Robert Irish
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how to rate this book. I found it profoundly educational.
While technically it addresses the Standing Rock protests about the Dakota Access pipeline, and the "American" native problem, it makes clear that the line between USA and Canada is an arbitrary settler-nation divide. To explain NoDAPL, the book takes a long sweeping history of the relations between indigenous peoples and the settler nation. Along the way, I learned a great deal about the nature of indigenous family structure
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Nick Estes is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is an Assistant Professor in the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico. In 2014, he co-founded The Red Nation, an Indigenous resistance organization. For 2017-2018, Estes was the American Democracy Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.

Estes is the author of the book

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