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An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (2014)
de Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
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An understandably angry (and therefore somewhat repetitive) history of the US from indigenous viewpoints, focusing on the genocides and settler colonialism that were core to the founding and never stopped. Among other things, Dunbar-Ortiz highlights that Sherman’s March was merely the application of tactics used against indigenous people against white Southerners, and that the military term “in-country” is actually shortened from “Indian Country,” highlighting the extent to which the US military remains organized around the founding concept of going to other people’s lands and telling them what to do. The actors here are indigenous fighters/activists and settler oppressors; when laws change in favor of indigenous communities they are just passive-voice changed, and it would have been a stronger book if it explained why settler legal systems would ever do this (similar to Derrick Bell’s theory of interest group convergence, which explains why some whites support some anti-white supremacy initiatives). ( )
I knew it would be going in, but this was a tough read. She makes a compelling case for genocide. I look at news stories about Indians differently after reading this book.
I can’t say that I’ve read much about Native peoples, but I learned from this book that Native Americans have a history, that (like the Jews), their history is genocidal in the proportions of its suffering, and also that their tree is still alive. It also (since I do know more about what we colloquially call America), reveals something about our national history, and our current paranoia, often obvious, sometimes subdued, about deviations from perceived racial, religious, and gender norms, to say nothing of obsessive pushback against less harmful forms of political and economic governance. It all began with what we might politely call irregular, or more frankly unlawful warfare, which was designed from the beginning to be for total conquest across the continent. Having read this book, I can no longer look in the same way on someone like Parson Weems, whose Life of Washington I once saw as a sort of comic adventure, whose protagonist’s historical mischances provided the necessary first step upon the voyage of discovery, which I imagined was something we might one day all share….
I don’t know. I can honestly say that this book did not make me angry, and I don’t think that it was written to inspire unreasoning rage, or even unreasoning language. Of course, I don’t always look in the same way at America and our history as another soul, but usually it is the person pointing out the crimes, in contemporary society and its past, that is calmer than the person who gets offended that we are not all ‘normal’ or whatever (and, indeed, not allowed to be—and don’t you forget it). Few people examine their lives or why they put greed first, as both ancient philosophers and prophets have commented. Of course, it remains that much of this remains unclear to me in certain ways, these lessons that I have unconsciously put off having for so long. How did it come to this? We have fine things, but we did not get them by being fine people; our history although not always subtle in the parlor seating sense of the word, is not more simple for being more bloody. Yet it is clear it wasn’t Washington’s parlor manners that did it for us. There is still a strain in the national consciousness that seeks to boast of this, for all the vagueness and romanticizing necessary to supplement the sheer guttural cry of triumph. And of course, an even stronger strain that seeks to forget, since greed is ‘new’, and all things are well, more or less.
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 regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortizoffers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire. Spanning more than four hundred years, this classic bottom-up peoples' history radically reframes US history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative.
A look at U.S. history from an indigenous point of view turns everything you've learned on its head. How many people died on the altar of "manifest destiny"? The U.S. fomented its own genocide of its native population. Any hostilities the colonists and later the settlers experienced was due to impinging on land that wasn't theirs. It's the white settlers who killed women and children. Its the U.S. military who used the lessons of warfare against indigenous populations and applied them to other populations around the world to become an imperial power. The over-militarization of our society now is still apparent.
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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 regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire. In An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. As the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: "The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them."
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)970.004 — History and Geography North America North America North America Ethnic and National Groups
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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