“All the Real Indians Died Off” and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker. Beacon, $16 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-8070-6265-4
Dunbar-Ortiz and Gilio-Whitaker admirably aim to explode popular, damaging, and inherently limiting myths about Native Americans, continuing the work begun in Dunbar-Ortiz’s well-received An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Refutations of 21 common assumptions are bolstered by views from academic experts and members of Native American nations, and the book’s overarching theme encourages modern readers to abandon the monolithic portrayals so common in popular culture. This earnest work would itself benefit from clearer delineations among the multitude of nations and widely varying traditions. In its most successful chapter, the prevalent myth of Native Americans as victims shatters as well-chosen examples show how members of modern nations actively work on behalf of environmental causes and on improving federal Native American policy. Several surprising statements could use additional historical or background context, particularly the claim for King Philip’s War as the “most violent conflict ever fought on American soil.” This book contains factual information that will benefit students and can spur productive dialogue, but those facts would be better served with companion portrayals of the horrific devastation that colonizers wrought upon Native Americans and continuing public and institutional efforts to properly respect and fairly treat the nations’ members today. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2017
Release date: 10/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-8070-6266-1
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