Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | January 29, 2018

Thoughts on Reading “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States”

Indigenous-Peoples-w

Last week, I finished reading “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” and still feel a bit shell-shocked. My husband and I have spent a few weeks reading this book aloud stopping frequently for discussion or comments. It is not an easy read. At times, I was angry, shocked, filled with disbelief of the facts, and saddened to tears.

This is not the history we learned in school. As kids, we grew up thinking George Washington could not tell a lie, that Andrew Jackson was a great heroic figure who saved New Orleans, and that Abraham Lincoln made all people free at last. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a symbol of the friendship between the first colonialists and the “Indians” and honor Columbus for “discovering” this new world for all of us settlers.

The history of my ancestors stretches back on this continent to the late 1600s. So yes, we were definitely the colonialist settlers portrayed in this book. We came to the colony of Virginia seeking land and opportunities we did not have back in England. In studying my genealogy, I found three characteristics of every generation. They were religious (many were ministers), they were most often farmers or did other manual types of work, and they believed in going forth and populating the earth (many had more than a dozen offspring).

My ancestors migrated into every new opening of territory. My particular branch spread out from Virginia to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, down to my father who lived mostly in Mississippi and Louisiana. True to his heritage, my father was a preacher, farmer, migrant worker, car mechanic, truck driver, etc. doing anything he could to support his family. 

My ancestors served in all the wars and as veterans were given land in new areas taken from the Indigenous Peoples. Arriving in Georgia in the early 1800s, they lived on land awarded to them by the government for their soldiering. At that time, the Indigenous Peoples in Georgia were the Creeks and the Cherokees. Most of these two groups were forced to relocate from Georgia to Oklahoma Territory in the late 1830s. I do not know what interactions my ancestors had, if any, with the Indigenous Peoples of Georgia.

While reading this book, I felt often as I did during the feminist movement back in the 1970s. My consciousness was being raised; I was becoming “aware”. This book brings us a new way of perceiving the “history” of the United States, a new way that challenges what we have been taught and accepted as true. It also tells us what today’s Indigenous Peoples are experiencing in their fight to live in this land that once was theirs. Just as disturbing are the observations about how our country is still using some of the same practices that stole this continent to enter and “take over” other countries around the world.

This is a very thought-provoking book.

© MtnWoman Silver 2018


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