Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco

 

discussing her new book

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

from Beacon Press

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 communities and nations comprising nearly three million people. These individuals are the descendants of the once fifteen million people who inhabited this land and are the subject of the latest book by noted historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. In An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the indigenous peoples was genocidal and imperialist—designed to crush the original inhabitants. Spanning more than three hundred years, this classic bottom-up history significantly reframes how we view our past. Told from the viewpoint of the indigenous, it reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the U.S. empire.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a farmer and half-Indian mother. She has been active in the American Indian Movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to national and international social justice issues. After receiving her PhD in history at the University of California at Los Angeles, she taught in the newly established Native American Studies Program at California State University and helped found the departments of Ethnic Studies and Women's Studies. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indians in the Americas, held at the United Nations' headquarters in Geneva. She is the author or editor of seven books.

Advance praise for An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States :

"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States should be essential reading in schools and colleges. It pulls up the paving stones and lays bare the deep history of the United States, from the corn to the reservations. If the United States is a 'crime scene,' as she calls it, then Dunbar-Ortiz is its forensic scientist. A sobering look at a grave history." —Vijay Prashad, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South

"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 Unites States." —Dr. Waziyatawin, activist and author of For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook

"Dunbar-Ortiz provides a historical analysis of the U.S. Colonial framework from the perspective of an indigenous human rights advocate. Her assessment and conclusions are necessary tools for all indigenous peoples seeking to address and remedy the legacy of US colonial domination that continues to subvert indigenous human rights in today's globalized world." —Mililani B. Trask, Native Hawaiian international law expert on Indigenous Peoples' rights and former Kia Aina (Prime Minister) of Ka La Hui Hawaii

"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States is a fiercely honest, unwavering, and unprecedented statement, one which has never been attempted by any other historian or intellectual. The presentation of facts and arguments is clear and direct, unadorned by needless and pointless rhetoric, and there is an organic feel of intellectual solidity that provides weight and trust. It is truly an Indigenous peoples' voice that gives Dunbar-Ortiz's book direction, purpose, and trustworthy intention. Without doubt, this crucially important book is required reading for everyone in the Americas!" —Simon J. Ortiz, Regents Professor of English and American Indian Studies, Arizona State University

"An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States provides an essential historical reference for all Americans. Particularly, it serves as an indispensable text for students of all ages to advance their appreciation and greater understanding of our history and our rightful place in America. The American Indians’ perspective has been absent from colonial histories for too long, leaving continued misunderstandings of our struggles for sovereignty and human rights." —Peterson Zah, former President of the Navajo Nation

"Dunbar-Ortiz strips us of our forged innocence, shocks us into new awarenesses, and draws a straight line from the sins of our fathers—settler-colonialism, the doctrine of discovery, the myth of manifest destiny, white supremacy, theft and systematic killing—to the contemporary condition of permanent war, invasion and occupation, mass incarceration, and the constant use and threat of state violence." —Bill Ayers

"This may well be the most important U.S history book you will read in your lifetime. If you are expecting yet another 'new’ and improved historical narrative or synthesis of Indians in North America, think again. Instead Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz radically reframes U.S. history, destroying all foundation myths to reveal a brutal settler colonial structure and ideology designed to cover its bloody tracks. 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: The Black Radical Imagination

"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes a masterful story that relates what the indigenous peoples of the United States have always maintained: Against the settler U.S. nation, indigenous peoples have persevered against actions and policies intended to exterminate them, whether physically, mentally, or intellectually. Indigenous nations and their people continue to bear witness to their experiences under the U.S. and demand justice as well as the realization of sovereignty on their own terms." —Jennifer Nez Denetdale, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico and author of Reclaiming Diné History