Now part of the HBO docuseries "Exterminate All the Brutes," written and directed by Raoul Peck
Recipient of the American Book Award
The first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples
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.
With growing support for movements such as the campaign to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the Dakota Access Pipeline protest led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States is an essential resource providing historical threads that are crucial for understanding the present. In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly 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. Shockingly, 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.”
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.
An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States is a 2015 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature.
About the Author
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma in a tenant farming family. She has been active in the international Indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to national and international social justice issues. Dunbar-Ortiz is the winner of the 2017 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize, and is the author or editor of many books, including Not “A Nation of Immigrants.”Winner of the American Book Award (2015). She lives in San Francisco. Connect with her at reddirtsite.com or on Twitter @rdunbaro.
“Meticulously documented, this thought-provoking treatise is sure to generate discussion.” —Booklist
“Justice-seekers everywhere will celebrate Dunbar-Ortiz’s unflinching commitment to truth—a truth that places settler-colonialism and genocide exactly where they belong: as foundational to the existence of the United States.” —Waziyatawin, PhD, activist and author of For Indigenous Minds Only
“An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States helped me clarify my place in this country. . . . This book is necessary reading if we are to move into a more humane future.” —Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
“[An] essential historical reference for all Americans.” —Peterson Zah, former president of the Navajo Nation
“A must-read for anyone interested in the truth behind this nation’s founding.” —Veronica E. Velarde Tiller, PhD, Jicarilla Apache author and publisher of Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country
“This may well be the most important US history book you will read in your lifetime. . . . Here, rendered in honest, often poetic words, is the story of those tracks and the people who survived—bloodied but unbowed. Spoiler alert: the colonial era is still here, and so are the Indians.” —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams
“[P]ulls up the paving stones and lays bare the deep history of the United States . . . If the United States is a ‘crime scene,’ as she calls it, then Dunbar-Ortiz is its forensic scientist.” —Vijay Prashad, author of The Poorer Nations
“Dunbar-Ortiz strips us of our forged innocence [and] shocks us into new awarenesses.” —Bill Ayers, author of Public Enemy
“[A] fiercely honest, unwavering, and unprecedented statement.” —Simon J. Ortiz, Regents Professor of English and American Indian Studies, Arizona State University
“[A] masterful story that relates what the Indigenous peoples of the United States have always maintained: against the settler US nation, Indigenous peoples have persevered against actions and policies intended to exterminate them, whether physically, mentally, or intellectually.” —Jennifer Nez Denetdale, author of Reclaiming Diné History