2015 Winner of the American Book Award. Acclaimed 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.
Ortiz doesn’t ignore the darker sides of Indian life and history, including Indian ownership of black slaves before the Civil War, but for the most part she points an accusatory finger at the settlers, soldiers and U.S. presidents who waged what she describes as genocidal warfare against foes labeled 'savages' and 'barbarians' ... An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States isn’t based on original research. But it synthesizes a vast body of scholarship, much of it by Indians themselves, and provides an antidote to the work of historians who have rationalized the settling of the West and the 'civilizing' of the Indians. Ortiz praises Indian acts of resistance, honors Indian warriors such as Tananka Yotanka (Sitting Bull), and calls for mending and healing the whole nation. Her book belongs on the shelf next to Dee Brown’s classic, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
What is fresh about the book is its comprehensiveness. Dunbar-Ortiz brings together every indictment of white Americans that has been cast upon them over time, and she does so by raising intelligent new questions about many of the current trends of academia, such as multiculturalism. Dunbar-Ortiz’s material succeeds, but will be eye-opening to those who have not previously encountered such a perspective.
Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page ... Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase 'in country' derives from the military phrase 'Indian country' or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were 'gold-obsessed' ... A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.