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An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People

by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese

Published by Beacon Press, 2019
270 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8070-4939-6

Age 12 and older

Imagine that everything we know about U.S. history has been filtered through a kaleidoscope stuck on the lens of American exceptionalism. Now imagine the kaleidoscope comes unstuck, or breaks altogether. This history of the place, people, and politics of this land from an Indigenous perspective will offer a provocative shift for the majority of readers. It emphasizes Indigenous agency, resistance, and resilience while providing an understanding of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny rooted in European colonialism that was fueled by the Catholic Church’s Doctrine of Discovery. It traces the origins of white supremacy to these mindsets, and shows how it has played out through centuries of racist, rationalized violence against Native peoples, whose cultures and identities are numerous and complex. This adaption by Mendoza and Reese of Dunbar-Ortiz’s adult book strikes a tone remarkable for its invitation to consider rather than desire to lecture, even as it definitively challenges the way middle and high schoolers are typically taught to understand the conquest of this land. A final chapter looks at the 21st-century Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which underscores that this history is still playing out today. End matter includes a recommended reading list of Native-authored books for children and teens, as well as acknowledgement that the recorded history of native peoples includes the names of too few women. “That imbalance is the result of history being written by men who chose to write about men.” This is followed by a list of Native women to learn about, and an invitation for readers to consider other names they would add. Source notes and index are included in this exceptional challenge to the dominant narrative of U.S. history. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center



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