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The Rediscovery of America

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I have not read this author so didnt know what to expect, but once awards season started I realized I had to read. Was very impressed by his writing syle and will be recommending to friends and family, as well as my companies DEI committee to buy a copy for our offfice.
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Ned Blackhawk's THE REDISCOVERY OF AMERICA provides a different perspective on American history than that typically presented in history classes. His presentation of how indigenous people lived and perceived the "settling" of the vast country is unique and gripping in how the single narrative can be expanded to include the views of others and their experiences and thoughts. I enjoyed learning facts and opinions I'd never encountered before -- while seeing so many parallels throughout all of history in who tells the narrative and shapes the way a particular place, people, and time period are seen and built upon. Best of all, his book goes beyond the memorization of facts to the personal, the unheard, and the ignored reality of a time and place. I received a copy of this book and these opinions are my own, unbiased thoughts.
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Review copy provided by the publisher.

Between my downloading this book from NetGalley and reading it, it won the National Book Award, so it's clear that I'm not the only one giving it a look these days.

I think with books like this it's important to understand what they are and are not. This is a map, a highlights version, hitting the high points. You can't do four hundred years of history of a large portion of a continent and the people who live on it and go into really satisfying analysis and detail about...really much of any of it. So if you aren't very familiar with Indigenous history in the US, this is a book that will have you making a list of what else is out there that you should find out about in more depth.

If you have taken the time to become familiar with Indigenous history in the US in some depth, you will probably only encounter one or two concepts and figures that are new to you. If your reading intention is to murmur, "I never knew that about the Mandan!" or similar phrases, you will likely come away from this large and magisterial work disappointed. Its purpose is relational, contextual. For the relatively informed reader, it is putting together pieces that you may previously have only had separately, the Ghost Dance and the arguments about citizenship in their temporal proximity.

It's easy to see why it won a National Book Award; it's a very useful sort of road map to have, to put this kind of information together and be able to have it all in one place, to be able to gesture clearly to the informed and the uninformed alike and say, look, these are the throughlines, these are the themes, this is what was happening all along. And Blackhawk does a very clear and briskly-written job of that.
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So many added truths to American History must not remain unknown. New Histories written will include and not exclude Indigenous people. In this instance, we are thinking and writing about the Native Americans. God only knows how much physical and emotional pain these people have endured. More negative realities will coexist with Native American as long as long as their histories remain buried far from the eyes of  successive generations. Just thinking of future ways the Native American might suffer is heart rending.
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This history book is a very well researched background of the indigenous peoples place in history that is not included in the history textbooks. It is a book that takes time to read and process.
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An important book that examines American history though the Native American perspective. Very educational and enlightening.
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Ned Blackhawk's The Rediscovery of America is an amazingly in-depth, meticulously curated history of the United States and how we have shaped that history by presenting it from a colonialist perspective. 

I have read a few histories about indigenous peoples but never one written by those with firsthand perspectives on the matter. This is a criticism I've seen more and more in the past few years and I am so glad that Blackhawk's tome is here to provide that firsthand perspective and give agency to those peoples and remove the infantilism we bestow as European-settler-storytellers. 

This history is easy to follow, and it's size should not discourage potential readers (though after seeing the hardback, it might give your wrists some pause). Anyone with a genuine interest in history of the United States will gain a lot from reading this title. I look forward to checking out other titles by Blackhawk.
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A necessary and essential work. Readers should be prepared for a text that leans towards the academic, but it is still somewhat approachable and very informative.
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Ned Blackhawk, Western Shoshone and professor at Yale, wrote an extensive book about the history of the Native Americans from their encounter with the Europeans on till the end of the 20th century. It shows the perspective of several tribes in this encounter, the genocide, slavery, broken treaties, stolen land and other conflicts and humiliation. At about the 1870s the politics of the white occupants turned to assimilating the Native Americans by putting their children into boarding schools where they should "learn" the white ways, which was continued later with adoption by white couples and following (sexual) abuse. In the 20th century awareness and self-determination of the tribes are added as a small token of hope, though there are still problems with poverty and exploitation of their land. As a non-American I´m not very firm in its history, so the book took me a while to read and understand. The newer times were not as academic in their description as the others and easier to comprehend. Great asset: an extensive appendix with notes and a register.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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This is an important and thorough book. It reads like a textbook, and unfortunately I wasn't able to get through it. DNF. 

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Yale University Press for a digital ARC - pub date 4/25/2023.  An intense, deeply researched, sobering re-examination of the history of America from the Native Peoples' lens.  This is not the stuff you get in school - at least not 99% of the schools in this country.  It is not at all an easy read and definitely more scholarly than make for an easy read but it is 100% worth it.  We cannot make progress unless we understand the past and that past should include all viewpoints of the people who have experienced it.  The Native point of view is something that has been long missing from our national mythos.  

Going back to the first encounters between Native Peoples and the European settlers, this book traces through the centuries of co-operation, persecution, legislation, and forced termination.  With its point of view firmly seated in the Native perspective, it examines the events that formed our country.  While I knew about some of the events, both good and bad, there were many more that I had never heard of or, shamefully, never considered.  We all have heard stories of bad-faith treaties and the horrors of the boarding-school assimilation programs.  But to learn about all of the many tribes effected is staggering.  From the start, each tribe experienced different interactions; some positive, some negative, some that were in between.  The book further detailed the importance and influence Native Tribes had on the Revolutionary War and, even more startling, how slow and tortuous the founding of the new goverment was in the following years.  Differing concepts of how to deal with "The Indian Problem" was something that colored every aspect of this country's history.  I had absolutely no idea how the Civil War impacted and drove home further injustices to the Native Tribes, for instance.  We get so used to thinking of the Civil War in terms of North and South, Union and Confederacy, that we forget there was an entire Western half of the country that existed at the same time.  Overall, we would do well to remember all aspects of this country's history.  There is no growth in clinging to the old City On A Hill myths.
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An extremely academic tone about the history of the US through a Native People’s lens. The narrative begins abruptly in 1776 rather than prior and the organization of this telling is a bit odd.
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I recommend this book but not for casual reading. It is academic. The book reads smoothly in some parts and some parts bog down in heavy analysis. With that said…The Rediscovery of America does not retell history but rather includes the significant part that was left out. It is an important work that covers topics that include the subjugation of Native people through settler colonialism and indiscriminate violence but also the power wielded by the Iroquois Confederacy.
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Ned Blackhawk's The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History is a survey history of the more than 500 year history of genocidal dispossession and survival of the Native Peoples of America. Central to Blackhawk's history, is how native Americas are central to the development of the United States from the colonial age to the present.

Blackhawk begins the history from the first interactions between Europeans and Native Americans. Each empire, first the Spanish through to the English has a chapter of its own. This leads to some repetition as each one is detailed chronologically. They all consider the European dispossession and spread of disease that lead to considerable native population death (Best estimates suggest an almost 90% mortality rate). However, these chapters also are much more nuanced than a standard textbook, discussing how the Nations learned quickly, playing the European powers against one another for their own benefit and embracing new technologies and animals. It was a period of great waves of violence that generated large amounts of movement, enslavement and trade.

Once Blackhawk reaches the American Revolutionary, the narrative is more focused and clear. As the founding fathers developed the structure of the United States government, one of the many consequences was the shift in political tones, focus on territory ownership and control, and frontier killings of native peoples. It is also the time when what it meant to be a citizen was codified in law to typical mean a white (at first land owning ) man.

Linking to the major driver of American expansion, natural resources and slave supported agriculture, Blackhawk details the Manifest Destiny's effects on Native Peoples and the other war(s) that took place during the Civil War, the war against Native Americans in the west.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the US government switched from removal and treaties or reservations to re-education and coercing the end of tribal status. One slight benefit, was this taught Native Americans about the United States sufficiently to use the legal system to pursue justice.

The latter chapters directly address the myth that Native Americans are historic figures by detailing the development of advocacy organizations and melding with the American expectations. Native Americans who took part in the World Wars helped to fuel greater awareness, and the New Deal programs of the 1930s also directly benefited Native Americans by supporting Native self government and reviving treaty rights.

Blackhawk's history looks at both the grand scale of our nation's history while also detailing key individuals, organizations and events. It is a slow starting, distressing, betrayal filled journey of survival with a surprisingly hopeful ending. A strong work to better understand American History for all its peoples.
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This book is a necessary and difficult read -- difficult because of the history of injustices we have committed against native peoples in the misnamed "founding" of America.  Most American history starts with the Northeastern United States and therefore misses out on critical history - the maps in the book clearly show thriving communities of indigenous peoples throughout North America.  We also learn that nearly a million Native Americans were enslaved across America during the 16th and 17th centuries.  By the time the Mayflower came, the region was already undergoing colonization.  Indigenous dispossession fueled a British North America and created the foundation for chattel slavery. This is a story of imperialism and how the real history is erased by who tells the story "who are the victors."  The author has done meticulous research and the history is so rich with how in the 1700's "Indian hating" became an ideology that paints native peoples as inferior to whites to justify taking away their rights, committing violence against them and stealing their land. By 1787, treaties became the supreme law of the land in the Constitution.  Native peoples outside the 13 colonies maintained control over the majority of North America.  By 1776, few settlers had crossed the Ohio River but the American Revolution had depopulated and devastated huge swaths of interior homeland but did not "conquer" the Indian people.  The Constitution ended up legitimizing the process of American colonialism - and by creating an empire, created histories to glorify this expansion. Part II of the book addresses the struggle for sovereignty and in 1830 the Federal Government passed the "Indian Removal Act." - now history shows up that this sanctioned the removal of indigenous peoples, expanded white male constitutional democracy and expanded African American slavery.  By the 1870's during reconstruction, Congress assumed new power to undermine treaty commitments and began to seize native children to send the to boarding schools to erase their history and identities - and through the 1920's - the name of the game was expansion of assimilation.  During this time, a native-led organization called the Society of American Indians" started to raise awareness and lobby -- under a remarkable woman named Kellogg.  In 1924 they helped to advance the American Indian Citizenship Act.  During the New Deal, some progressive advances were made for American Indians but by 1953 again these began to unravel -- a new commission of Indian Affairs was created led by the man who was responsible for relocating Japanese-Americans to internment camps during WWII.  Even Hitler and other Nazi officials came to learn how we handled race-based colonialism and American Law as well as how we treated African-Americans.  As the United States government sought to terminate agreements with American Indians, they created an Indian Adoption Act -- one quarter to one third of all American Indian children were removed from their families and put into foster care, adopted or orphanages.  The final chapters address self-determination and the rise of "Red Power."  By learning the history after reading this book, I finally feel I am only beginning to understand the systemic and institutionalized racism against our native peoples.  This was a great foundation and there is more I want to and need to learn about other truths about the history of America. I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to Netgalley and Yale University Press for an ARC and I voluntarily left this honest review.
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Shelf Awareness MAX Shelf, Tuesday April 18, 2023:

Historian Ned Blackhawk (Western Shoshone) offers a comprehensive, epic re-framing of United States history in The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History. "Scholars have long conflated U.S. history with Europeans, maintaining the United States evolved from its British settlements," Blackhawk notes in the introduction--an error he sets out to correct as he examines the important and often-overlooked role of Indigenous peoples in the formation of modern-day America. "[It] is time to reimagine U.S. history outside the tropes of discovery that have bred exclusion and misunderstanding."

As a professor of history at Yale University, a lifelong student of Native American history and law, and author of several previous books on the subject (Indigenous Visions; Violence over the Land), Blackhawk is no stranger to the study of Native American history. The Rediscovery of America, though, marks an impressive addition to an already notable résumé, offering a sweeping "reorientation of U.S. history" from the earliest days of colonialism through to the present. He grounds this work and analysis in decades of research and scholarship, including material from tribal projects that have worked to expose a history often overlooked by other studies of the United States. Dozens upon dozens of examples pepper the text--battles and clashes, treaties and settlements, protests and campaigns, all highlighting the ways Indigenous peoples have influenced the course of U.S. history. Blackhawk credits nearly 200 tribal museums and cultural centers in his research, as well as "oral traditions, ethnographies, Indigenous languages, and the archival records from multiple empires" that contribute to his work. (Detailed endnotes and frequent citations provide additional resources.)

To call the resulting study comprehensive feels like something of an understatement; The Rediscovery of America offers not only a history of Indigenous peoples in the U.S., but a careful examination of the ways this history is woven into--and ultimately, has influenced--the evolution of the U.S. from a collection of colonies to the country it is today. "Rather than seeing U.S. and Native American history as separate or disaggregated, this project envisions them as interrelated," writes Blackhawk, highlighting the contributions of Indigenous peoples in establishing a country, and not merely recounting the subjugations of these populations.

Blackhawk focuses on the "interrelatedness of Native-newcomer relations, collectively asking whether there is potential for building an alternate U.S. story that is not trapped in the framework of European discovery and European 'greatness.' " In the first half of the book, Blackhawk "underscores the centrality of violence to the making of early America," through accounts of early encounters--and conflicts--between Native Americans and European empires seeking to expand their land and resource holdings in the "new" world. This lays the groundwork for an exploration of continued violence in the form of law and policy as the United States consolidated its political power following the Civil War, offering new ways of considering the U.S. Constitution--its drafting and implementation over the decades that followed--within the context of Native American history and influence.

Throughout The Rediscovery of America, Blackhawk notes how interactions with Native American people and tribes "shaped the contours of federal policy." This interweaving moves through decades of termination-minded policies to the "new partnerships" of today, marked by a transfer of power from the federal government back to tribal communities under legislation passed in 1975. Notably, however, today's Native Americans are still plagued by disproportionate rates of poverty, poor health outcomes, limited economic development, and low educational attainment--consequences of intentional policy over centuries of United States history.

At more than 600 pages, the weight of The Rediscovery of America comes in the time required to sit with the violence inherent in the stories told here, and in the challenge Blackhawk presents to readers: "[t]o reimagine U.S. history outside the tropes of discovery that have bred exclusion and misunderstanding." A true historical accounting must recognize the role of violence, genocide, exclusion, and dispossession in the origin story of a country that purports to be a bastion of freedom and democracy--"How can a nation founded on the homelands of dispossessed Indigenous peoples be the world's most exemplary democracy?" Simply put, not grappling with this question limits the ability of U.S. citizens to understand their history, present-day politics, and possibilities for the future. Perhaps more importantly, ignoring the richness and gifts of peoples long overlooked, intentionally and not, does an extreme disservice to those who came before, and the power and activism they have wielded to effect change over centuries of history. In that vein, The Rediscovery of America should be considered essential reading for anyone with an interest in history, justice, law, or politics--and especially the intersection of these topics. --Kerry McHugh
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The Rediscovery of American is a survey of American history, with a focus on how Native Americans were impacted and influenced that history. Ned Blackhawk repeatedly shows that Native Americans were a crucial part of American history at every major event - The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, Reconstruction, The World Wars.

Blackhawk consistently challenged my many preconceptions of how indigenous people in North America lived both before and after the continent was colonized by Europeans. Far from simply accepting the loss of their lands and livelihoods, indigenous people actively fought for and negotiated for better outcomes. Often, they were successful, only to have promises broken, treaties ignored or lands illegally seized.

The Native American place in American history also sheds light on those areas that still plague the country today, such a gun control, white nationalism and so-called state’s rights (which have always been about state’s right to ignore the humanity of certain people).

This book (or some version of it) should be taught in every high school in the United States, especially in those state where the preferred version of history wilfully ignores the lived reality of the indigenous population.
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I really liked Blackhawk's refiguration of American history.  He's got a very straightforward way of writing that would win over a lot of popular audiences, instead of focused on academics.  I was at first perplexed by his title, but as I began reading, it started to make sense very quickly.  I've read Blackhawk's other work and found this one to be much more readable.  Not only that, but I appreciate that there is now a narrative history of America focused from the indigenous side, rather than the usual Eurocentric model.  

My only critique is that the narrative does not go up to the present day.  While there is much about the Black Hills for instance, I would have liked to see the connections between the fight over the Laramie Treaty land to the present day, and the establishment of the Smithsonian museum in D.C.  While this wouldn't fit the bill for many people's first foray into a more detailed history of America (although, many wouldn't have a problem with that) I think that it could definitely be read in conjunction as a supplement or lateral read.
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Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for this ARC. This is an important topic and a well-written account from an authoritative voice. I appreciated the chance to learn from professor Blackhawk through this book.
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“The Rediscovery of America” is definitely not a light undertaking for readers, and that is exactly as it should be. Ned Blackhawk after all is crafting a new US historical narrative - one that works to fit Native Americans into the large, complex but often heavily overlooked roles they’ve been playing all throughout the nation’s history, from the country’s settler origins almost all the way up to the present. Given the subject matter, this work is as thorough and detailed as one could hope for more, and then some. It’s definitely a work that I’d like to have not only in my academic library, but would love to see in higher level history classes.
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