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Native Nations

By Kathleen DuVal
Native Nations by Kathleen DuVal digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

“An essential American history” (The Wall Street Journal) that places the power of Native nations at its center, telling their story from the rise of ancient cities more than a thousand years ago to fights for sovereignty that continue today

“A feat of both scholarship and storytelling.”—Claudio Saunt, author of Unworthy Republic


Long before the colonization of North America, Indigenous Americans built diverse civilizations and adapted to a changing world in ways that reverberated globally. And, as award-winning historian Kathleen DuVal vividly recounts, when Europeans did arrive, no civilization came to a halt because of a few wandering explorers, even when the strangers came well armed.

A millennium ago, North American cities rivaled urban centers around the world in size. Then, following a period of climate change and instability, numerous smaller nations emerged, moving away from rather than toward urbanization. From this urban past, egalitarian government structures, diplomacy, and complex economies spread across North America. So, when Europeans showed up in the sixteenth century, they encountered societies they did not understand—those having developed differently from their own—and whose power they often underestimated.

For centuries afterward, Indigenous people maintained an upper hand and used Europeans in pursuit of their own interests. In Native Nations, we see how Mohawks closely controlled trade with the Dutch—and influenced global markets—and how Quapaws manipulated French colonists. Power dynamics shifted after the American Revolution, but Indigenous people continued to command much of the continent’s land and resources. Shawnee brothers Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa forged new alliances and encouraged a controversial new definition of Native identity to attempt to wall off U.S. ambitions. The Cherokees created institutions to assert their sovereignty on the global stage, and the Kiowas used their power in the west to regulate the passage of white settlers across their territory.

In this important addition to the growing tradition of North American history centered on Indigenous nations, Kathleen DuVal shows how the definitions of power and means of exerting it shifted over time, but the sovereignty and influence of Native peoples remained a constant—and will continue far into the future.

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About Kathleen DuVal

Kathleen DuVal is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she teaches early American and American Indian history. Her previous work includes Independence Lost, which was a finalist for the George Washington Prize, and The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent. She is a coauthor of Give Me Liberty! and coeditor of Interpreting a Continent: Voices from Colonial America.

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