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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

4.58  ·  Rating details ·  230 ratings  ·  39 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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Verso (first published 2019)
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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
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 ...more
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
Edward Rathke
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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.
ros williamson
[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
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 ...more
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.
Sølvi Goard
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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 ...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 ...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 ...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
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
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
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
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A profound and powerful narrative of the colonial action against the Indigenous people here in what is now the United States. It moved me. It explained visions that I have had, as a priestess and pagan. The crucial reality of land and water as literal life. It is something I have felt time and time again and that the spirits have practically shouted into my head. I have been pushed off land I have farmed many times now. The reality of corporate and capitalistic control as tied to access to the ...more
Laura Ramnarace
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
History professor Nick Estes connect the dots in indigenous resistance through time and across the globe. He convincingly demonstrates that indigenous people's have been engaged in ongoing resistance to colonization since the arrival of Europeans on the shores of the not-so-new world. Estes' writing is clean and sharp, giving enough detail to paint a full picture but wasting few words in the process. Reading this book helped me to better understand what I observed in the NoDAPL encampments at ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“What does water want from us? What does the earth want from us? Mni Wiconi- water is life...” Estes says in the final paragraphs of his 2019 Our History is the Future. Estes traces the long history of the resistance of indigenous nations (with a focus on the Oceti Sakowin nations of the plains) against settler-colonialism, with an explicit connection to the latest fight, #NoDAPL.

Estes reminds us time and time again of the resilience of indigenous folks in the face of ongoing genocide and which
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"What does water want from us? What does the earth want from us? Mni Wiconi--water is life--exists outside the logic of capitalism. Whereas past revolutionary struggles have strived for the emancipation of labor from capital, we are challenged not just to imagine, but to demand the emancipation of earth from capital. For the earth to live, capitalism must die." (p. 257)
Sean Estelle
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely mandatory reading for all those interested in the “long tradition of Indigenous resistance” referenced in the title. Estes seamlessly jumps between narrative storytelling of a moment that captured the imagination and struggle of a movement for climate justice with hundreds of years of counter-history that can inform all of our organizing work moving forward, Indigenous or not!
Michale Keir - Cheslock
Interesting enough but there’s a lot of “indigenous people will save the environment” discourse lately (not just this book) which makes me a little uncomfortable as a lot of it reads as neo-noble savage fetishism
A powerful, meticulously-researched look at the long tradition of Indigenous resistance from the Missouri River basin and how it led to the protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Steve Nolan
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
"For the Earth to live, capitalism must die."

OK so that may now be the strongest last line of a book I've read in a while.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very thorough, engaging and educational history of indigenous resistance in the US to cultural genocide, erasure and forced assimilation.
Josh Reid
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
Masterful, compelling, and sweeping history of Oceti Sacowin activism. Exemplifies an Indigenous epistemology of history.
Josephine Ensign
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
An important book and a fascinating read.
Devin Bryant-Bosshold
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thorough history of Standing Rock and the larger history of North American indigenous history resistance that led to it.
Robert Weinstein
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sprawling. Dense. Important. Set aside a lot of time to read as there's a lot of information to handle.
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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
“Under capitalism, neither Democrat nor Republican can save Indigenous lands or Black and Indigenous lives. The continuation of state-sanctioned racial terror against Black and Native people, from police violence to energy development, from one administration to the next demonstrates only radical change in the form of decolonization, the repatriation of stolen lands and stolen lives, can undo centuries of settler colonialism.” 0 likes
“Indigenous resistance is not a one-time event. It continually asks: What proliferates in the absence of empire? Thus, it defines freedom not as the absence of settler colonialism, but as the amplified presence of Indigenous life and just relations with human and nonhuman relatives, and with the earth.” 0 likes
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