Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Posted October 23rd, 2014 by

IndigenousPeoplesHistoryI am a lucky guy to have my books published by Beacon Press. I’m proud to be in the company of such distinguished authors as Octavia Butler, James Baldwin, Cornel West, Mary Oliver and Anita Hill. I recently learned of another author with whom I’m excited to be connected through Beacon: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. I highly recommend her recently published An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.

As an author and public speaker who works to dispel the myths of the founding of this nation in the hope that we might someday actually live up to the ideals espoused in our founding documents, I appreciate all efforts to shine a light on truth.

Dunbar-Ortiz does precisely that, page after page, from the perspective of the Indigenous people who lived on this continent for thousands of years before it was “discovered” – and then colonized – by Europeans. It is not pleasant to learn details of the centuries-long program of terror, genocide, displacement, and theft of the land that became what is now the United States. This is not a pleasant book to read. But it is an essential book – and eminently readable – for anyone committed to understanding truth from the perspective of those outside the systems of power.

“I also wanted to set aside the rhetoric of race, not because race and racism are unimportant but to emphasize that Native peoples were colonized and deposed of their territories as distinct peoples – hundreds of nations – not as a racial or ethnic group. ‘Colonization,’ ‘dispossession,’ ‘settler colonialism,’ ‘genocide’ – these are the terms that drill to the core of US history, to the very source of the country’s existence.”

“My hope is that this book will be a springboard to dialogue about history, the present reality of Indigenous peoples’ experience, and the meaning and future of the United States itself.”

Readers will learn much from An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States that has been long-buried. Books like this should be studied in American classrooms, rather than the flimflam pabulum endorsed by the Texas State Board of Education that impacts the thinking and perspectives of far too many students throughout our nation; pabulum that perpetuate ignorance and distortions of history.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States  is part of the Revisioning American History series published by Beacon Press, which also includes A Disability History of the United States and A Queer History of the United States.

So, get busy! We’ve got more reading to do!

Question: Some people believe books like this just dredge up ancient history and serve no useful purpose. Obviously, I disagree. What do you think? Even if you disagree with me I’m interested in your perspective.

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