Staff Pick

David Treuer’s revelatory history, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee (Riverhead, $17) tells much more than the story of “Native America from 1890 to the present.” To understand 1890—the date of the massacre of 150 Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee, which seemed to be the final nail in the coffin of America’s indigenous peoples—we have to know the innumerable ways the U.S. had already tried to deal with its “Indian problem,” how Europeans had treated the Natives from first contact, and what life was like on the continent during the centuries before it was “discovered” by whites. Treuer covers this complicated history in detail; if the number of treaties, acts, and battles is dizzying, what comes through clearly is that there is no single “Indian” story. Each tribe—and often each clan within the tribe—occupies distinct cultural and geographical landscapes, and each has been impacted differently by the various means whites have used to try to control them. These stories are fascinating and long overdue—without them, the story of America, and especially of the West, has been both partial and seriously impoverished. Treuer’s central thesis, however, is that despite whites’ relentless battle to exterminate Natives, they failed. Wounded Knee was not the end of the story, just one chapter in an ongoing saga.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399573194
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Riverhead Books - November 5th, 2019

Staff Pick

While the original pilgrims really did host a feast attended by Indigenous peoples in 1621, the occasion neither marked the Natives’ welcome to the Europeans nor initiated an annual event; for the Plymouth colonists, a “day of Thanksgiving” called for fasting and prayer, not a feast, while for the ninety Wampanoag in attendance the gathering signaled merely a local alliance—not a general invitation to take their lands. In This Land Is Their Land (Bloomsbury, $32) David J. Silverman, the author of Thundersticks, looks afresh at a tradition that doesn’t commemorate a historical occasion as much as reflect the accretion of a set of half-truths. Examining four centuries of politics, erasures, and myths, he counters the traditionally one-sided story of the national holiday by putting it into the context of Native American history and culture—both of which pre-dated the European “discovery” of territory neither “wild nor “new,” just as they have survived U.S. efforts to write them out of the nation’s record. Focusing on the Wampanoag, Silverman delves deeply into indigenous rituals, beliefs, hierarchies, methods of warfare, economies, and much more, highlights where Natives and Europeans were most likely to misunderstand each other, and, noting that “the question…is how to move forward,” takes the narrative though Thanksgiving’s latest iteration as the National Day of Mourning.

This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9781632869241
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - November 5th, 2019