... an informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait of 'Indian survival, resilience, adaptability, pride and place in modern life.' Rarely has a single volume in Native American history attempted such comprehensiveness ... Treuer adeptly synthesizes [several] recent studies and fashions them with personal, familial and biographic vignettes. He works hard to connect the past with those who live with its ongoing legacies ... Through the book’s second half, recounting developments since World War II, Treuer’s counternarrative to Brown takes its fullest form. In particular, his detailed assessments of what he calls 'becoming Indian' highlight the resiliency and dynamism of contemporary tribal communities ... Ultimately, Treuer’s powerful book suggests the need for soul-searching about the meanings of American history and the stories we tell ourselves about this nation’s past.
Treuer’s revisionism leaves the reader with the understanding that foundational tales of indigenous suffering can be repurposed as a kind of prehistory for complex stories, typically absent from collective memory and scholarly literature, of Native nations that survived and thrived ... Some of these stories are familiar. Others are fresh. All are well told. Treuer builds characters and paints scenes that, in aggregate, connect a Native past to the present and future ... With this book, a new era might begin, in which popular conceptions of Native history include more than just a series of wounds.
Readers in search of conventional history may be disappointed, for although somewhat chronological the book’s structure is hardly linear, and the historical content, while sound, is minimal ... impassioned ... Treuer is an easy companion: thoughtful, provocative and challenging. He tells a disturbing yet heroic story that may very well be seen as a definition of 'American exceptionalism.'