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. Our History Is the Future is at once a work of history, a manifesto, and an intergenerational story of resistance.
The book's primary purpose is to situate the resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) at Standing Rock in the broader story of Indigenous American resistance (specifically Indigenous people of the central plains) to land incursion and dispossession. And Estes succeeds more often than not throughout the book by balancing an emphatic but accessible tone with academic (but not too academic) scrupulousness ... Estes deserves praise for having written a very well-paced, highly detailed, morally urgent book in which he keeps his eye trained on the profound injustice he catalogs, condemns, and portrays, really, as beyond immediate redress. Although he traces Indigenous resistance back to the first white settlers, his focus is particularly sharp in his recounting the resistance at Standing Rock, the central form of opposition around which the book makes its case ... points a way forward, with solidarity and without sentimentality, to an idea of Indigenous land alive with ancestry and renewal.
Nick Estes’s Our History Is the Future is an unflagging contribution to postcolonial recordkeeping ... Our History Is the Future makes an incisive case for the consideration of modern police violence as tied to the U.S. imperial project ... Nick Estes does not imagine—nor stretch to create—connections; he does not work in ways that are particularly clever or poetic, although the book is peppered with moments of deeply felt passion for and participation in the subject. In those moments, the text hums with a kind of emotional resonance ... we are made to see clearly, through Estes’s work, the ways in which supremacy systems protect and perpetuate themselves ... ne might read a sort of cynicism in Estes’s insistence that 'our history is the future.' The book is, after all, a history of Indigenous struggle to survive. But perhaps, even if read as a prediction of continued struggle, it is still more triumphant than cynical.
[A] scorching indictment of American settler colonialism, which resulted in the near-genocide of the continent’s indigenous peoples. With scrupulous research and urgent prose, he declares the DAPL protest a flowering of indigenous resistance with roots deep in history and Native sacred land ... In this powerful work, Estes’s condemnation of the United States government is clear and resonant.