An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People
Curriculum specialists Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza have adapted Indigenous human rights activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's acclaimed academic text An Indigenous People's History of the United States for young readers. This history of North America's native tribal nations rebuts popular cultural beliefs and offers school-aged children a different perspective on the colonization of what became known as the United States.
An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People spans centuries of resistance by the more than 500 federally recognized nations in the U.S. Even though the authors cover vast numbers of people and a long period of time, this account of the country's evolution remains gripping, tightly written and packed with facts traditional textbooks and historical accounts neglect to cover. Reese and Mendoza provide innovative opportunities for important reflection on the material. Sidebars encourage readers to analyze the ideas, apply them to their own lives and empathize with the people they are learning about. There are also clever suggestions for activities that apply the content to young readers' experiences, such as asking them to revise the musical Hamilton to include Indigenous characters. Maps, illustrations and photographs offer more ways to interact with the text, and a list at the conclusion suggests further readings.
While the Indigenous peoples of the North American continent suffered mightily at the hands of Europeans, Dunbar-Ortiz's bold work illustrates that their resilience and determination prevented the interlopers from the ultimate goal of extermination: "It is breathtaking, but no miracle, that they have survived as peoples." Thanks to Dunbar-Ortiz, Mendoza and Reese's work, old and young readers alike now have the benefit of a more complete understanding of part of the dark history of the United States. --Jen Forbus, freelancer