The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History

Ned Blackhawk

The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History
Yale University Press
United States
13 June 2023

The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History

Ned Blackhawk

Winner of the 2023 National Book Award for Nonfiction

The most enduring feature of U.S. history is the presence of Native Americans, yet most histories focus on Europeans and their descendants. The long practice of ignoring Indigenous history is changing, however, with a dynamic new generation of scholars insisting that any full American history must address the struggle, survival, and resurgence of American Indian nations. Indigenous history is essential to understanding the evolution of modern America.

In this ambitious book Ned Blackhawk interweaves five centuries of Native and non-Native histories, from Spanish colonial exploration to the rise of Native American self-determination in the late twentieth century. In a transformative synthesis of recent scholarship, Blackhawk shows that European colonization in the 1600s was never a predetermined success, that Native nations helped shape England’s crisis of empire, that the first shots of the American Revolution were prompted by Indian affairs in the interior, that California Indians targeted by federally funded militias were among the first casualties of the Civil War, that the Union victory forever recalibrated Native communities across the West, and that twentieth-century reservation activists refashioned American law and policy.

A full retelling of U.S. history requires much more than a reckoning over disease, violence, and dispossession - it requires acknowledging the enduring power, agency, and survival of Native nations to create a truer account of the formation and expansion of the United States. Studying and teaching America’s Indigenous truths reveals anew the varied meanings of America.

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