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The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America

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Now available in paperback, The Earth Shall Weep is a groundbreaking, critically acclaimed history of the Native American peoples. Combining traditional historical sources with new insights from ethnography, archaeology, Indian oral tradition, and years of his original research, James Wilson weaves a historical narrative that puts Native Americans at the center of their st Now available in paperback, The Earth Shall Weep is a groundbreaking, critically acclaimed history of the Native American peoples. Combining traditional historical sources with new insights from ethnography, archaeology, Indian oral tradition, and years of his original research, James Wilson weaves a historical narrative that puts Native Americans at the center of their struggle for survival against the tide of invading European peoples and cultures. The Earth Shall Weep charts the collision course between Euro-Americans and the indigenous people of the continent, from the early interactions at English settlements on the Atlantic coast, through successive centuries of encroachment and outright warfare, to the new political force of the Native American activists of today. It is a clash that would ultimately result in the reduction of the Native American population from an estimated seven to ten million to 250,000 over a span of four hundred years, and change the face of the continent forever. A tour de force of narrative history, The Earth Shall Weep is a powerful, moving telling of the story of Native Americans that has become the new standard for future work in the field.


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Now available in paperback, The Earth Shall Weep is a groundbreaking, critically acclaimed history of the Native American peoples. Combining traditional historical sources with new insights from ethnography, archaeology, Indian oral tradition, and years of his original research, James Wilson weaves a historical narrative that puts Native Americans at the center of their st Now available in paperback, The Earth Shall Weep is a groundbreaking, critically acclaimed history of the Native American peoples. Combining traditional historical sources with new insights from ethnography, archaeology, Indian oral tradition, and years of his original research, James Wilson weaves a historical narrative that puts Native Americans at the center of their struggle for survival against the tide of invading European peoples and cultures. The Earth Shall Weep charts the collision course between Euro-Americans and the indigenous people of the continent, from the early interactions at English settlements on the Atlantic coast, through successive centuries of encroachment and outright warfare, to the new political force of the Native American activists of today. It is a clash that would ultimately result in the reduction of the Native American population from an estimated seven to ten million to 250,000 over a span of four hundred years, and change the face of the continent forever. A tour de force of narrative history, The Earth Shall Weep is a powerful, moving telling of the story of Native Americans that has become the new standard for future work in the field.

30 review for The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America

  1. 5 out of 5

    TXGAL1

    Wilson has written a sweeping saga of the “discovery” of America by Europeans and the destruction of its indigenous peoples from its first encounters to present-day—a period of approximately 500 years. At the end of this 500-year period, 12,000,000 Indian lives had been exterminated. WARNING: the retelling of the Native experience contains racist language and moments of vivid violence. It’s difficult for me to write a review deserving of Wilson’s work. Honestly, I am furious with mankind. Also, I Wilson has written a sweeping saga of the “discovery” of America by Europeans and the destruction of its indigenous peoples from its first encounters to present-day—a period of approximately 500 years. At the end of this 500-year period, 12,000,000 Indian lives had been exterminated. WARNING: the retelling of the Native experience contains racist language and moments of vivid violence. It’s difficult for me to write a review deserving of Wilson’s work. Honestly, I am furious with mankind. Also, I did myself a disservice by listening to the 22-hr. audiobook instead of reading the book in hand. Many of the Native names and situations were lost to me since I was not able to read them in print. Lesson learned. The narrator, Nelson Runger, did a wonderful job using his rich, clear voice in a slow and steady manner. THE EARTH SHALL WEEP is divided into three “Parts”—Origins, Invasion, and First Nations. The chapters then appear by regions of the country. This broad study of Native America is well done and, generally, from the passionate viewpoint of the Indian. The author sets before the reader examples of native oral histories and recorded prophecies of their future demise. Quotes from various Native individuals of various tribes support the desperation and confusion that continually bombarded them. Those that were not outright murdered died from pestilence (generally smallpox and bubonic plague), hunger, poverty and death of the human spirit. Once the Europeans moved from trade to the occupation of ever-increasing amounts of land the relationships were destroyed. Greed drove the Europeans to steal the Natives’ land and resources using flimsy treaties and outright theft. When this theft was not able to be done overtly, racist perceptions and government policies furthered the destruction of the varied cultures: by putting bounties on the buffalo in order to exterminate the source of the Natives’ primary meat supply; forcing the destruction of tribes’ culture by relentless pressure to assimilate; and the removal of Indian children from their families to be placed in boarding schools where they would be punished for speaking their native language, dressing in native clothing, and male children wearing long hair. This continued assault of the Native culture resulted in damage to their social, spiritual, and psychological world. The former examples are only a pittance of the onslaught to actively remove the Native peoples from America. This broad study of Native America is definitely for the reader who wants to know more about the shameful and continued assault on the Indigenous peoples of America.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book was clear, well-written, and utterly horrifying. I think it's information all Americans should have, and are unlikely to be taught in public school. Made me realize a number of things, including how uneven "traditional" education is, even about distributing MISinformation about the story of American Indians. I never knew, for example, what a galvanizing and controversial time the New Deal in the 1930's was for many tribes, nor had I heard about the fish-ins in the 1960's, which took pl This book was clear, well-written, and utterly horrifying. I think it's information all Americans should have, and are unlikely to be taught in public school. Made me realize a number of things, including how uneven "traditional" education is, even about distributing MISinformation about the story of American Indians. I never knew, for example, what a galvanizing and controversial time the New Deal in the 1930's was for many tribes, nor had I heard about the fish-ins in the 1960's, which took place right in my back yard. I didn't consider myself a wide-eyed innocent about the relationship between white folks and Native Americans, but this book was truly shocking to me, and also fascinating and seemingly well-balanced. I highly recommend it. If nothing else, it will leave you flabbergasted that we still encourage gradeschool children to dress up like Pilgrims.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Greg Beale

    an in depth and moving book As a 1/16th Cherokee...really ...I am struggling to deal with history. Worse my great great grandfather was lynched as a Cherokee married to a white woman. It becomes personal when you discover that in your family history. I was also once a Stanford Indian, actually a football player who followed Prince Lightfoot out of the tunnel to do battle. I was for the mascot change, and the Redskins and Braves and Utes have to go. I am haunted by this book. Most Americans refuse an in depth and moving book As a 1/16th Cherokee...really ...I am struggling to deal with history. Worse my great great grandfather was lynched as a Cherokee married to a white woman. It becomes personal when you discover that in your family history. I was also once a Stanford Indian, actually a football player who followed Prince Lightfoot out of the tunnel to do battle. I was for the mascot change, and the Redskins and Braves and Utes have to go. I am haunted by this book. Most Americans refuse to look at this critical part of our history. But, as the book warns in the end, The Great Spirit will decide what to do with all of us, who are ruining the planet as fast as we can. The Earth Shall Weep....

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Horrocks

    Excellent historical overview. Beautifully written; a compelling narrative that intelligently explores the complex, varied processes of colonisation in North America: territorial, political, social and cultural. This is the history every American should know about: a history that has profoundly shaped the development of North American states and societies. It is also a story of survival and struggle that continues into the 21st century. There are insights here, too, that are relevant to the hist Excellent historical overview. Beautifully written; a compelling narrative that intelligently explores the complex, varied processes of colonisation in North America: territorial, political, social and cultural. This is the history every American should know about: a history that has profoundly shaped the development of North American states and societies. It is also a story of survival and struggle that continues into the 21st century. There are insights here, too, that are relevant to the histories and contemporary politics of other colonial countries, from Aotearoa-New Zealand to Israel/Palestine. If you're looking for a readable, nuanced, thoughtful introduction to the subject, this book is ideal. And more: it's a book I'll be thinking about for years, a profound exploration of cross-cultural encounters and the brutal, multi-layered realities of colonisation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Elkon

    After I read about the Wright Brothers, which was a story of some of the best aspects of American society (the plucky brothers who came from a middle class background and, without the benefits of substantial investment or formal education, made themselves world-famous by inventing the first powered flight machine), I decided to read about one of the worst. James Wilson doesn't sugarcoat anything in his book about Native Americans and their demise at the hands of Europeans. There's no way to come After I read about the Wright Brothers, which was a story of some of the best aspects of American society (the plucky brothers who came from a middle class background and, without the benefits of substantial investment or formal education, made themselves world-famous by inventing the first powered flight machine), I decided to read about one of the worst. James Wilson doesn't sugarcoat anything in his book about Native Americans and their demise at the hands of Europeans. There's no way to come out of reading this book without a degree of guilt as an American. Our country was built in no small part from defrauding the natives, pushing them off the land whether by treaties that they did not understand (and Whites did not obey) or naked violence. Much of the decline of native populations was the result of diseases unintentionally brought by the Europeans (diseases that were the result of Europeans being exposed to livestock and thus developing immunities, whereas Native Americans did not have livestock and therefore had no such immunities), so it's not as if Europeans intentionally murdered millions of natives, but there was a healthy degree of violence involved and a massive degree of land-stealing. One of the interesting aspects of Wilson's narrative was the Catch-22 that natives were placed in by the Europeans. If they remained as hunter-gatherers, then they were dismissed by the Europeans as savages who had no rights and could be pushed off the land without a second thought. If they became stable farming communities, then that just illustrated that they were on useful land, so that land would be seen as a target for settlers. Wilson also does a good job of explaining how the natives had a completely foreign understanding of how Europeans operated that was their undoing. The natives, for instance, typically had warriors within tribes and there would be wars between tribes over resources, but these were almost always limited wars. The objective was simply to obtain the resource in dispute and then push the enemy back; it was never to annihilate the enemy completely. The natives had a sense of a world that needed to be in harmony, with bartering back and forth to help one another and sharing of communal property. (One can see how many Marxist concepts could have been inspired by the Native Americans.) The Europeans, on the other hand, had a concept of total war, whereby an enemy could be wiped out entirely, especially if that enemy was non-White. The Europeans believed in private property and negotiated treaties on that basis, which the natives never quite understood and were helpless to prevent the Europeans from violating. Our society is based on private ownership and the rule of law to protect those property rights, but that was a foreign concept to natives. This tension carried through into the 20th century. There was often a disagreement as to the proper way for the U.S. to manage its native population. Part of the idea was just to push them off the land and then let them fend for themselves. This was especially prevalent when there was plenty of land to be had in the 18th and 19th centuries. Georgia, for example, saw the Cherokee and Creek deprived of their traditional lands through quasi-legal and illegal means and then forced to move all the way to Oklahoma. Andrew Jackson fully supported the Georgians in their efforts to push the natives out, as when the Supreme Court held that the natives were sovereign and could not be mistreated by the state government, Jackson made his infamous statement "Justice Marshall has made his ruling, now let's see him enforce it." There was also violence against the Native Americans when they were pushed off the land and chose to fight back, most notably in the Indian Wars that took place on the Great Plains in the 19th century. California was especially violent, as the gold rush brought serious, intentional violence against the native tribes that lived in that state. (Right after we get rid of the Redskins, we might consider the 49ers renaming themselves, as well.) In opposition to "let's steal their land and then push them into the interior" was the impulse to try to turn natives into White people. This effort entailed taking control of the process of educating native children, removing them from their homes and sending them to boarding schools where they would learn English, be taught a trade, and be forced to dress and act like Whites. The definition of who was a native was raised so that their numbers would go down, with the eventual hope being that they would melt into American society in the same way that other groups did. (Blacks were excluded from this impulse.) Needless to say, the process of trying to turn native children into Whites amounted to psychological torture, such that the victims never felt themselves to be part of either society. A rare bright spot for the treatment of natives by the U.S. happened in the New Deal and then the Great Society, where the federal government decided to implement social programs to assist natives in getting out of poverty. Wilson's discussion about John Collier is especially interesting. Collier was a Georgia whose family was ruined by the Panic of 1898. He renounced American society and went from group to group, trying to convince people to retain their original cultures. He ended up becoming an effective advocate for Native Americans and ultimately, the head of the Bureau for Indian Affairs. There. he reversed the trends of cultural assimilation imposed by the federal government. He also stopped the process of the government creating individual parcels on Indian land (thus trying to turn natives into yeoman farmers) and then selling off most of the parcels to Whites. His legacy is mixed, as many natives believe that he didn't appreciate the differences between tribes. However, for possibly the first time, there was a true advocate for the interests of Native Americans with real power in government. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Co... The conclusion of the book is interesting because Wilson discusses the divisions that continue to exist in Native American society. As would be expected, during the process of being pushed off their land, tribes were often divided between moderates, who just wanted to strike the best possible deal with the Whites and live to fight another day, and hard-liners, who wanted to take up arms against the Whites. These divisions have continued to the present, as Wilson described conflicts between full-blooded Native Americans, who are very protective of native rituals and culture, and mixed-blooded Natives, who tend to be more assimilationist. One little glimmer of hope that I gleaned from the end of the book was the idea that modern Native Americans face the same issues that just about every minority group faces in the U.S. today: a question of preserving culture and passing it along when American mass culture is so pervasive and attractive to young people. Older Native Americans complain about inter-marriage, loss of native language skills, and declining participation in native ceremonies, which is totally common with minority racial and ethnic groups. This implies a somewhat normalized experience for Native Americans, which would be great progress after the way that natives have been treated for centuries.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    It is good to get an alternative point to keep everything in perspective. This history text isn't one that you sit down and read front to cover; it certainly has a staggering amount of information in it. It covers the history of our country from the native viewpoint from first contact to about the mid 1980's. Some things I already knew thanks to an American Indian course I took in college, but there was a lot there that I was not familiar with. I think the author did a good job of being objectiv It is good to get an alternative point to keep everything in perspective. This history text isn't one that you sit down and read front to cover; it certainly has a staggering amount of information in it. It covers the history of our country from the native viewpoint from first contact to about the mid 1980's. Some things I already knew thanks to an American Indian course I took in college, but there was a lot there that I was not familiar with. I think the author did a good job of being objective and in organizing the material in a logical fashion and not just sticking to the bigger and better known incidents. His use of quotes by Indians gave voice to individual thoughts from the time -- would love to see Ken Burns tackle this! I'll throw out a couple of tidbits I learned that really made me pause for thought: for the Plains Indians, only male homosexuals kept their hair cut short and layered (like whites, imagine what that did to the psyche of the adolescent males sent to the Carlisle Indian school!) and some modern-day Indians believe that the PC use of Native Americans is an attempt by whites to nullify the treaties since they all refer to "Indians" and not natives. That's a harsh level of distrust, but then again, why should they trust the government knowing that every single treaty ever agreed upon has been violated and the government until recently had an established goal of "termination" of tribes? Food for thought.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I'd really like to read a lot more about American Indian history and culture. This year's plan already includes American Holocaust (next) and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee but, thanks to Wilson's frequent quotes from Vine Deloria Jr., maybe i'll read Custer Died for Your Sins next. I frequently was distracted by Wilson's prose style. He seems extremely fond of parenthetical digressions, which he sets off by commas, dashes or parentheses (aka, what he'd probably call brackets) depending on his moo I'd really like to read a lot more about American Indian history and culture. This year's plan already includes American Holocaust (next) and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee but, thanks to Wilson's frequent quotes from Vine Deloria Jr., maybe i'll read Custer Died for Your Sins next. I frequently was distracted by Wilson's prose style. He seems extremely fond of parenthetical digressions, which he sets off by commas, dashes or parentheses (aka, what he'd probably call brackets) depending on his mood, apparently. Nevertheless, the content of the book was much more in line with what i'd hoped to get from 1491, namely, a history of the first people who live in what is now the continental United States, aka Native Americans, aka American Indians, aka [insert name of each nation]. I expect Stannard's American Holocaust will cover much of the same ground but in a way more likely (and presumably intended) to produce a sense of outrage, if i may be allowed to judge the entire book by its title. I believe a sensible reader will (and should) feel outrage from Wilson's book, too. On pages 371-373, Wilson quotes an article published in the Colville Tribal Tribune on December 20, 1973. (It's also available online, if you don't have the book in hand.) I highly recommend reading it entirely as a perfect characterization of what happened on this continent. I'll probably refer to this article in conversation for the rest of my life. I'd like to know who wrote it so i could give them personal credit. Bottom Line A helpful and welcome history that i wish i'd read in the 1990s when—as an editor of "multicultural" encyclopedias such as the Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes—i most needed it. (That's some hindsight from the year 2020.)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Everyone should read this book, especially everyone living in the U.S.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gwen

    A bit out of date as far as current developments; it was published in 2000. Excellent historical perspectives, NOT focusing on the Great Plains (Custer etc.) as most general books on this topic tend to do. I especially appreciated the historical perspectives on the Southwest and California.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    Having American-Indian on my father's side, I try to read at least one book a year to learn more of my father's origins. I found this book very informative putting Indian history more in "proper" context. Having American-Indian on my father's side, I try to read at least one book a year to learn more of my father's origins. I found this book very informative putting Indian history more in "proper" context.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Selbst

    A thorough history of the Native Americans of the United States from the time of first European settlement to the recent past. Even if you know the overall history, this detailed account will give the reader an in-depth view of this sad story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Edward Rathke

    An interesting book that covers the history of North Americans from thousands of years ago to when this book was published. It manages to cover huge amounts of information but never delves too deep into any specific sequence of events. Wilson approaches the many different indigenous nations geographically, which seems like a fair approach. I think he does an admiral job here covering as much as he can efficiently while also giving a feel for how each region was distinct, had distinct histories b An interesting book that covers the history of North Americans from thousands of years ago to when this book was published. It manages to cover huge amounts of information but never delves too deep into any specific sequence of events. Wilson approaches the many different indigenous nations geographically, which seems like a fair approach. I think he does an admiral job here covering as much as he can efficiently while also giving a feel for how each region was distinct, had distinct histories before Europeans, and had distinct interactions with Europeans that shaped their culture up to today. I don't have a lot to say, really. This book, like any historical survey, is best when paired with multiple other history books that get more specific on narrower slices of that history. But, yeah, solid stuff.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Senner

    This is a HUGE topic. Five centuries and about 175 tribes. It was getting to be too much. But an important book to read. There is much about Indians (Native Americans) that needs to be known. For example: That distinction between the two names has legal importance - all the treaty documents refer to Indians. The first part of the book is divided by geography, starting with the Northeastern Natives that the pilgrims encountered. I doubt that the Massachusetts Colony could have survived except for This is a HUGE topic. Five centuries and about 175 tribes. It was getting to be too much. But an important book to read. There is much about Indians (Native Americans) that needs to be known. For example: That distinction between the two names has legal importance - all the treaty documents refer to Indians. The first part of the book is divided by geography, starting with the Northeastern Natives that the pilgrims encountered. I doubt that the Massachusetts Colony could have survived except for the fact that disease had cleared all the prime living and farming areas of occupants. Why is there very little reservation land in California? - because nearly all the tribes were killed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kirk Astroth

    An outstanding yet heart-breaking history of how we "colonists" have abused, tortured, killed and tried to exterminate and terminate Indians in the US. "The so-called settlement ofAmerica was a resettlement, a reoccupation of land made waste by the diseases and demoralization introduced by the newcomers." The injustices catalogued in this history are shameful. But I had to laugh when I read this: "The United Native Americans is proud to announce that it has bought the state of Montana from the w An outstanding yet heart-breaking history of how we "colonists" have abused, tortured, killed and tried to exterminate and terminate Indians in the US. "The so-called settlement ofAmerica was a resettlement, a reoccupation of land made waste by the diseases and demoralization introduced by the newcomers." The injustices catalogued in this history are shameful. But I had to laugh when I read this: "The United Native Americans is proud to announce that it has bought the state of Montana from the whites and is throwing it open to American Indian settlement. UNA bought Montana from three winos found wandering in Glendive. The winos promptly signed the treaty, which was written in the Northern Cheyenne language, and sold Montana for three bottles of wine, one bottle of gin, and four cases of beer." "Commissioner of Caucasian Affairs Little Bear also announced the founding of four boarding schools to which white youngsters will be sent at the age of six. 'We want to take those white kids far away from the backward culture of their parents,' the Commissioner explained. The schools will be located on Alcatraz Island, the Florida Everglades, Point Barrow, Alaska and nearby Hong Kong." Touché. The only light note in a tragic history of our mistreatment of Indians. And it continues today in South Dakota because of an oil pipeline.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This books starts out slowly and isn't always the most readable. But it gets traction after the first couple of chapters, and is a good narrative covering Native Americans from pre-contact to the late 20th century. I particularly enjoyed the sections about the Great Plains, Southwest, and West Coast, since those are the tribes that I am most familiar with. The final chapters covering the last century are interesting as well, although one is left still wondering what the best path for the future This books starts out slowly and isn't always the most readable. But it gets traction after the first couple of chapters, and is a good narrative covering Native Americans from pre-contact to the late 20th century. I particularly enjoyed the sections about the Great Plains, Southwest, and West Coast, since those are the tribes that I am most familiar with. The final chapters covering the last century are interesting as well, although one is left still wondering what the best path for the future is. The author tries to be somewhat even-handed, giving views into the mindset of the Europeans and then Americans. But it's hard to not feel sympathetic toward the Indians, because they didn't stand a chance, and even today still suffer the effects of losing their land and their culture.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Lines

    This was an excellent history of North America’s indigenous inhabitants. Wilson gives a good picture of the complexity of the hundreds of native nations, tribes, and groups. He covers 500 years of history in about 450 pages – no small feat. Based on my college courses and other reading, I found this to be a very dependable and thorough history. Of course, if you are easily depressed by stories of massacres and genocide, you might want to skip it. Because a lot of this history is really sad and d This was an excellent history of North America’s indigenous inhabitants. Wilson gives a good picture of the complexity of the hundreds of native nations, tribes, and groups. He covers 500 years of history in about 450 pages – no small feat. Based on my college courses and other reading, I found this to be a very dependable and thorough history. Of course, if you are easily depressed by stories of massacres and genocide, you might want to skip it. Because a lot of this history is really sad and depressing. On the bright side, he does cover some of the good stuff that has happened in recent history. You just have to wade through the centuries of wrong before getting there.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    An excellent introduction into the histories and varied cultures of Native Americans. The author begins with what is known of the precolonial histories of tribes and moves forward through the 1990's by regions (Northeast, Southeast, New York & Ohio Valley, Great Plains, Northwest, Southwest and Far West). Included are many founding stories and quotes by Indian leaders as well opinions that reflect the views of colonists, settlers and politicians of varied persuasions. I appreciated the author's An excellent introduction into the histories and varied cultures of Native Americans. The author begins with what is known of the precolonial histories of tribes and moves forward through the 1990's by regions (Northeast, Southeast, New York & Ohio Valley, Great Plains, Northwest, Southwest and Far West). Included are many founding stories and quotes by Indian leaders as well opinions that reflect the views of colonists, settlers and politicians of varied persuasions. I appreciated the author's discussion of the wide variations in stories of origin and other differences among the tribes. I recommend this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    I learned so much from this book about the perspectives of different tribes across the US. From the very beginning, the author tries to get the euro-American reader to put aside their own cultural assumptions and see how the tradition and culture of native tribes influenced their interactions with non-Indians. Really, just learning the details of the treatment of the tribes by Europeans is quite horrific. Gross mistreatment was more the rule than the exception. This history is one all Americans I learned so much from this book about the perspectives of different tribes across the US. From the very beginning, the author tries to get the euro-American reader to put aside their own cultural assumptions and see how the tradition and culture of native tribes influenced their interactions with non-Indians. Really, just learning the details of the treatment of the tribes by Europeans is quite horrific. Gross mistreatment was more the rule than the exception. This history is one all Americans should be aware of.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    I can't believe I read the whole thing! Seriously this is a big book crammed with so much information on the native american peoples that it really is mind blowing. The amount of research to put together something this comprehensive is staggering. For all of that the book is a bit dry and does get a bit repetitive concerning the abuses suffered to the indigenous peoples. For anyone wanting an all in one book that tells what occurred in early America with the first contact of the Europeans to pre I can't believe I read the whole thing! Seriously this is a big book crammed with so much information on the native american peoples that it really is mind blowing. The amount of research to put together something this comprehensive is staggering. For all of that the book is a bit dry and does get a bit repetitive concerning the abuses suffered to the indigenous peoples. For anyone wanting an all in one book that tells what occurred in early America with the first contact of the Europeans to present day, this may just fill that spot on your shelf.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Turner Campbell

    Really incredible research. The book breaks down the interactions between Europeans and North Americans natives by location. Where most public school education downplays the atrocities of European settlement, Wilson gives a depth to the amount of suffering while refusing to conflate the different communities already present on the continent. The telling is unsentimental and frank, but the content is heartbreaking. Everyone who lives in the United States needs to read this book. Know your history Really incredible research. The book breaks down the interactions between Europeans and North Americans natives by location. Where most public school education downplays the atrocities of European settlement, Wilson gives a depth to the amount of suffering while refusing to conflate the different communities already present on the continent. The telling is unsentimental and frank, but the content is heartbreaking. Everyone who lives in the United States needs to read this book. Know your history.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael Blackmore

    I've read more than my share of Native American history related books and this is an excellent overview. It covers the history well without neglecting the scope of the tragedy of the history. Definitely recommended. I've read more than my share of Native American history related books and this is an excellent overview. It covers the history well without neglecting the scope of the tragedy of the history. Definitely recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lora Shouse

    An excellent book about the history of Native Americans. The author attempted to tell their story as much as possible as they would have wanted it told despite not being a Native American himself. Unfortunately, there is little recorded of the history of the native peoples from the time before white men came to this continent. He used ancient Indian legends, conversations with a wide variety of Native Americans, and historical sources, many of them written by the white invaders. It is surprising An excellent book about the history of Native Americans. The author attempted to tell their story as much as possible as they would have wanted it told despite not being a Native American himself. Unfortunately, there is little recorded of the history of the native peoples from the time before white men came to this continent. He used ancient Indian legends, conversations with a wide variety of Native Americans, and historical sources, many of them written by the white invaders. It is surprising what some of the white chroniclers tell on themselves and their treatment of the Indians. Surprisingly, some Native Americans actually prefer the term Indian to Native American; apparently, the true preference of many is to be called by the name of their specific tribe, but this is difficult when talking about all of them together. There was some coverage of the first Indians to be encountered by the English in the Virginia and New England areas, including a little bit about the law that was the basis for the confederation of the Iroquois tribes. There was also some discussion of the tribes in the Southeast and what their life was like before the white man, with mention being made of the mound-building and Missippian cultures, about which, however, little seems to be known beyond the remnants of the structures they left. There is also some discussion of the natives of the Southwest and their early encounters with the Spanish and what became of them after that. The greatest part of Native American history seems to be a series of battles once the white man appeared, although some of the battles were against illness – European diseases evidently killed many more Native Americans than the European Americans did, often before the Europeans actually encountered the Native Americans. Of course, it is not news that the European Americans horribly abused and tortured the Native Americans, doing everything in their power to take every last bit of their land from them. As of the time of the writing of this book, that effort was still going on, albeit without quite as much success, or quite as much support, as in former times. The part of the book that held the most surprises was the last part about the history of Native Americans since approximately 1900. The oppression has continued at least into the 1980’s. The battles with guns and tomahawks are for the most part over. Instead, Indians are having to fight for their rights in the courts of the land. Most of the overt land-grabbing is over too, except when it suddenly becomes inconvenient for the white people not to appropriate, for example, the water that an Indian tribe needs to live on their reservation. Surprisingly, some of the worst damage has been done by people who were sincerely trying to help. For example, there is the problem of the Indian schools – established by people who genuinely thought that the best thing for them was to be educated in the white man’s ways and be assimilated into white society. (Resistance is futile!) They primarily succeeded in breaking up families and cutting many Indians off from their culture and spreading depression and poverty throughout much of what remains of the various Indian reservations. In the very last years of the twentieth century, there are some hopeful signs. Since the 1960s or so, there has been a movement to unite Indians of all tribes, but its success has been limited. The big movement to develop gambling casinos on some reservations has brought a certain amount of prosperity to some Indians, but many do not see this as an unmixed blessing. A great many issues of poor health, poverty, and other problems are still abundant. I found this book on Scribd.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    In 1986, the Onondaga traditional chief, Oren Lyons told a conference: We will determine what our culture is. It has been pointed out that culture constantly changes. It is not the same today as it was a hundred years ago. We are still a vital, active Indian society. We are not going to be put in a museum or accept your interpretation of our culture. I hope that what I have said will be taken with the respect with which it was presented...we continue to survive. Our chief council is composed of In 1986, the Onondaga traditional chief, Oren Lyons told a conference: We will determine what our culture is. It has been pointed out that culture constantly changes. It is not the same today as it was a hundred years ago. We are still a vital, active Indian society. We are not going to be put in a museum or accept your interpretation of our culture. I hope that what I have said will be taken with the respect with which it was presented...we continue to survive. Our chief council is composed of respectable and dignified men. They are profoundly endowed with the spirit of nationhood, freedom and self-determination. When we travel about and meet with the elders from the other different nations and peoples, we find our friends. I cannot speak for anybody but the Six Nations of Iroquois, but I can tell you that we have children who believe that they are Onondagas. We have longhouses that are full of our young people. We have a lacrosse team called the Iroquois Nationals that competes with Canada, the United States, England and Australia. It is a fact that a small group of people in the northeast have survived an onslaught for some 490 years. They continue their original manner of government. They also drive cars, have televisions, and ride on planes. We make the bridges that you cross over and build the buildings that you live in. So, what are we? Are we traditionalists or are we assimilated? If you can get away from your categories and definitions, you will perceive us as a living and continuing society. We believe that the wampum and the ceremonial masks should be at home. We will continue our ceremonies. We have the right to exist and that right does not come from you or your government. [From The Earth Shall Weep by James Wilson, Epilogue] The Earth Shall Weep is a relatively old book - it was first published in 1998, making it over two decades old at this point - but one that excellently written, poignant, and speaks plainly about truths that still shape current affairs. Presented in three broad sections - Origins (on precontact north America and precolonial contact), Invasion (on contact in the context of white settlement, presented by region), and Internal Frontiers (on different ways in which native populations and individuals have tried to deal with forced assimilation and continual abuse from the wider population and government) - the history recounted in this text is nothing short of horrifying. Usually I try to read a book steadily - especially when reading for a challenge, as I was with this book - but with The Earth Shall Weep there were many times that I needed to take a day or two off of reading to properly reflect on what I had read. The last time I had this much difficulty reading a book it was Andrea Pitzer's One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps. Still, this was a book worth reading and one that I will recommend to others both for the writing - clear, with no exaggeration, and extensive quotations from native sources where it is available - and the information. This isn't the kind of book you read for warm fuzzy feelings but is the kind of book that must be read to make sure that the realities of history aren't airbrushed and forgotten. Refusing to acknowledge and discuss things that happened, even when they make you feel uncomfortable (and damn did this make me feel uncomfortable), allow for people to craft narrow, politically motivated historical fictions and pass them off as fact. Overall, The Earth Shall Weep is a five star read and one that I highly recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Simon

    This Indian history book goes back as far as the 16th century and Spanish interaction. Wilson does a nice job of explaining first contact in various areas in the country between white and Indian. He furthermore follows through with until the breakdown and eventual relocation, death by disease, or genocide of various tribes. He includes some creation stories and quotes from leaders throughout history. Wilson understands his topic in its vastness over 500 years of historic encounters with differin This Indian history book goes back as far as the 16th century and Spanish interaction. Wilson does a nice job of explaining first contact in various areas in the country between white and Indian. He furthermore follows through with until the breakdown and eventual relocation, death by disease, or genocide of various tribes. He includes some creation stories and quotes from leaders throughout history. Wilson understands his topic in its vastness over 500 years of historic encounters with differing communities and regions. The book gives enough information about key historical moments to inspire further in depth reading while keeping the book as an overview that shows a general theme repeated throughout history. The theme of white immigrants displacing, killing, and belittling a continent filled with millions of Indians that had lived here for thousands of years. Never the less, Indians are still here in America. They live integrated in society and on reservations. They are diverse in their orientation with their race and religion. They still deal with the complexities that would arise from 500 years of struggle as a citizen of 2 nations. The Indians that are alive today have lived through different trials and struggles than the original interactions with settlers to America. That means a full history of the Indians of America must include more that the last battles and include the challenges that the Indians of this current generation have faced and are facing. I've often heard Native American book reviewers justify the value the integrity of the book by labeling it a fair portrayal of the Indian as non-romanticized and simplistic and the Europeans as more than harmless pilgrims. This book certainly does not proport to characterize the Indian and Immigrant, but without fail a general theme of perpetrator and victim is apparent. Regardless of aggressive acts Indians have taken in defense or in offense, these incidents do not even the scales. For those that wish to say there was aggression on both sides, those people would fail to have to have seen the wholeness of a trend that has taken place over hundreds of years, thousands of miles and continues to this day.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rick Goff

    This book provides an excellent introduction to the diverse nations that were arranged across North America prior to contact with European “settlers.” There were a great many nations, each with its origin myth/religion political system and economic strategy, rooted in the features of the place they called their homeland. For a sense of the diversity of these nations, consider that each of the first 8 or 9 chapters is limited in scope to the nations in a region of the continent. The chapter intro This book provides an excellent introduction to the diverse nations that were arranged across North America prior to contact with European “settlers.” There were a great many nations, each with its origin myth/religion political system and economic strategy, rooted in the features of the place they called their homeland. For a sense of the diversity of these nations, consider that each of the first 8 or 9 chapters is limited in scope to the nations in a region of the continent. The chapter introduces the local nations and describes the impact on them of European incursion. You might compare it to Europe. Just as Germans, Russians and Portuguese are all Europeans, so Creek, Kiawa and Klamath “Indians.” As land and population diminished, and extinction loomed, many of these nations had little choice but to find common cause and represent themselves politically, if not culturally, as a unified entity. It won’t come as news to you, but the history of English, Spanish, French and, eventually American treatment of the citizens of the First Nations is appalling. This book provides more information regarding where, when, to whom and by whom. I no longer have the ability to retain a lot of factual data and I’m sure if I were tested on this book I would fail. But I come away with some understanding of some cosmological/religious premises common to these nations. In particular, all things are spiritual and the natural condition of the universe is harmonious.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aruna

    This is one of the best history books I have read. It's quite a time investment, but well worth it. Wilson does his best to present a balanced perspective, despite the challenges of lack of written documentation and the diversity of Native American reactionary approaches to the white man's expansion. This book is incredibly well written. I only wish he had expanded the book with a chapter that addressed "modern" (the 1990 Native American Languages Act and beyond) developments in Native America's This is one of the best history books I have read. It's quite a time investment, but well worth it. Wilson does his best to present a balanced perspective, despite the challenges of lack of written documentation and the diversity of Native American reactionary approaches to the white man's expansion. This book is incredibly well written. I only wish he had expanded the book with a chapter that addressed "modern" (the 1990 Native American Languages Act and beyond) developments in Native America's relationship with the US government.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is brutal, but so important. I can't recommend it enough. It was a lot to digest, with story after story leaving me shaking my head and gasping. In particular, there was one fact that I can't stop thinking about: European settlers saw this sparsely populated continent to be a sign from God that it was their destiny to inhabit it. In reality, so many Native Americans died from disease after initial European contact that it was the equivalent of moving into the aftermath of a nuclear dis This book is brutal, but so important. I can't recommend it enough. It was a lot to digest, with story after story leaving me shaking my head and gasping. In particular, there was one fact that I can't stop thinking about: European settlers saw this sparsely populated continent to be a sign from God that it was their destiny to inhabit it. In reality, so many Native Americans died from disease after initial European contact that it was the equivalent of moving into the aftermath of a nuclear disaster. Educate yourself so we can respect the past and never repeat this in the future.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Minta Ann

    As profoundly educational as this book may be, it does nothing to shed light on the ignorant. As a Native American historical lover & lover of history in general, it baffles me that some Americans don't see our history for what it truly was. The pillars of our educational structure are a sham, leaving a lot of what we didn't understand in the hands of those who didn't want to explain. This planet will not last forever, and as the book warns in the end, The Great Spirit will decide what to do wit As profoundly educational as this book may be, it does nothing to shed light on the ignorant. As a Native American historical lover & lover of history in general, it baffles me that some Americans don't see our history for what it truly was. The pillars of our educational structure are a sham, leaving a lot of what we didn't understand in the hands of those who didn't want to explain. This planet will not last forever, and as the book warns in the end, The Great Spirit will decide what to do with all of us, who are ruining the planet as fast as we can. The Earth Shall Weep....

  29. 4 out of 5

    robert kotch

    J. WILSON--THIS WORK OF YOUR'S EVOKED SO MANY FEELINGS--SOME OF WHICH SADENED ME. IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT SO MANY INTELLIGENT, RELIGIOUS EUROPEAN PEOPLES THAT HAD MIGRATED TO THE AMERICAS WOULD RAIN SUCH ABUSE ON THOSE THAT WELCOMED THEM---FED THEM--AND TREATED THEM AS MEMBERS OF THEIR OWN CLAN. SADLY,THIS ABUSE AND RAPE OF A CULTURE OLDER THAN EUROPE ITSELF HAS BEEN THE NORM FOR CENTURIES. THERE HAS TO BE A PLACE IN HELL FOR ALL THOSE RELIGOUS-MORALIST SHAPE-SHIFTERS THAT JUSTIFIED THIS INJUSTI J. WILSON--THIS WORK OF YOUR'S EVOKED SO MANY FEELINGS--SOME OF WHICH SADENED ME. IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT SO MANY INTELLIGENT, RELIGIOUS EUROPEAN PEOPLES THAT HAD MIGRATED TO THE AMERICAS WOULD RAIN SUCH ABUSE ON THOSE THAT WELCOMED THEM---FED THEM--AND TREATED THEM AS MEMBERS OF THEIR OWN CLAN. SADLY,THIS ABUSE AND RAPE OF A CULTURE OLDER THAN EUROPE ITSELF HAS BEEN THE NORM FOR CENTURIES. THERE HAS TO BE A PLACE IN HELL FOR ALL THOSE RELIGOUS-MORALIST SHAPE-SHIFTERS THAT JUSTIFIED THIS INJUSTICE .

  30. 4 out of 5

    Willie Krischke

    Started in 2010, finished in 2019. I put it down so many times, because the stories were heartbreaking, or because I was already familiar with so much of it and just didn’t want to revisit them. I should have skipped to the second half, the post 1900 half, because that was a lot of history I hadn’t learned before, and it was fascinating. Now I want to know more about John Collier, and I really want to read Peter Matthiessen’s book about Wounded Knee.

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