The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples & the Unmaking of US History

The long practice of ignoring Indigenous history is changing, with a new generation of scholars insisting that any full American history address the struggle, survival, and resurgence of American Indian nations. Ned Blackhawk interweaves five centuries of Native and non‑Native histories, from Spanish colonial exploration to the rise of Native American self-determination in the late 20th-century. The event was recorded on June 28, 2023 at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Click here for the 62-minute recording. Click here for a recorded interview with him by his publisher Yale Press. Click here for a 48-minute video of Blackhawk by Poured Over.

(Above) Dr. Robin Pearson, a new trustee of the Massachusetts Historical Society, introduces Dr. Andrew Marsh, Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who then interviews Ned Blackhawk.

Blackhawk argues that European colonization in the 1600s was never a predetermined success. Native nations helped shape England’s crisis of empire. The first shots of the American Revolution were prompted by Indian affairs in the interior. California’s Indians targeted by federally funded militias were among the first casualties of the Civil War. The Union victory forever recalibrated Native communities across the West, and 20th-century reservation activists refashioned American law and policy.

Blackhawk’s retelling of US history acknowledges the enduring power, agency, and survival of Indigenous peoples, yielding a truer account of the United States and revealing anew the varied meanings of America.