cover image Indigenous Continent: The Epic Contest for North America

Indigenous Continent: The Epic Contest for North America

Pekka Hämäläinen. Liveright, $40 (576p) ISBN 978-1-63149-699-8

Oxford University scholar Hämäläinen (Lakota America) delivers a sweeping and persuasive corrective to the notion that “history itself is a linear process that moves irreversibly toward Indigenous destruction.” Reorienting the history of the Western Hemisphere away from “European ambitions, European perspectives, and European sources,” he focuses instead on the “overwhelming and persistent Indigenous power” that lasted in North America from 10000 BCE until the end of the 19th century. Throughout, Hämäläinen highlights the agency, resilience, diversity, and kinship of Indigenous peoples, detailing how the Comanche, the Lakota, the Mohawks, and other tribes formed alliances to forestall European conquest. Skillfully shifting across regions and time periods, Hämäläinen documents how Native nations expanded, contracted, and even relocated in response to opportunities or pressures, and employed a range of methods (diplomacy, trade, and war among them) to resist colonization. Revelations abound—from the rampant enslavement of Indigenous people by European settlers to the strategic advantages that smallpox and other diseases gave to some Native nations—as do immersive renderings of Native cultural traditions and incisive analyses of developments including Western tribes’ domestication of horses in the 1700s and the formation of Native American and British alliances after the Revolutionary War. This top-notch history casts the story of America in an astonishing new light. Illus. Agent: Geri Thoma, Writers House. (Sept.)