The Two-Sentence View of History

An Indigenous History of North America

I’ve been reading a lot of accounts recently that argue indigenous people asserted much more control over many areas of the continent into the 19th century than modern people usually assume (check out The Native Ground by Kathleen DuVal or An Infinity of Nations by Michael Witgen, not to mention Hamalainen’s Comanche Empire) and I got to thinking about the response my post about the teaching of Native history received.

One of the most common responses was along the lines of “Well, Native Americans didn’t contribute much to history anyway, they didn’t do much important, it’s sad but they were basically just wiped away by Europeans.” There is an incredible amount of hindsight bias in that kind of thinking. When you are living in a society in a time where Native people have been very carefully thrust out of view, it is easy to see the dominance of European-descendants as an inevitable…

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