Native Nations

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UPC: 9780525511038
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Authors: Kathleen DuVal (Author)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 752 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0525511032
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525511038

“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.


“An essential American history . . . Examining both past and present from an indigenous rather than a European perspective, [Kathleen] DuVal fuses a millennium of Native American history into a thought-provoking, persuasive whole.”The Wall Street Journal

“Both majestic in scope and intimate in tone. . . . No single volume can adequately depict the gamut of Indigenous cultures, but DuVal's comes close. . . . 
Native Nations belongs on the same shelf as Blackhawk's magisterial work and Charles Mann's 1491.”—Hamilton Cain, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“An indispensable guide to the epic history of Native North America.”
—Caroline Dodds Pennock, author of On Savage Shores
“A revelatory account of the power and influence of Indigenous peoples in North America.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“prodigiously researched and enlightening.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Conducting us skillfully on this journey through a perilous history fraught with colonial violence, DuVal brings the reader finally to a hopeful and resurgent Native present.”
—Nicole Eustace, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Covered with Night

“An exemplary model of how Native American history should be written.”
—Brooke M. Bauer, author of Becoming Catawba

“A page-turner . . . DuVal offers us a new chronology of early America.”
—Anne F. Hyde, author of Born of Lakes and Plains

Native Nations is a powerful story of Indigenous peoples’ continued survival, resistance, and strength. . . . Even the most expert reader is likely to learn something new.”—Warren Eugene Milteer, Jr., author of Beyond Slavery’s Shadow

“DuVal recounts this remarkable and fascinating story of power and endurance with sympathy, eloquence, and attention to all kinds of different people. A stunning achievement.”
—Sarah M. S. Pearsall, author of Polygamy: An Early American History

“A vital new history leading to today’s more than five hundred Native nations in the United States.”
—Andrés Reséndez, author of The Other Slavery

Native Nations provides a new way of understanding the long sweep of Native American history.”—Daniel K. Richter, author of Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts

“sensible, lucid, and wide-ranging . . . DuVal recounts a sobering yet remarkable history of survival despite sweeping efforts to destroy Native peoples.”
—Alan Taylor, author of American Republics: A Continental History, 1783–1850

“While much of the history written about Native American people has focused on white experiences . . . DuVal focuses on the growth and change of Indigenous polities and cultures.”
—Anton Treuer, author of The Cultural Toolbox

“A much-needed corrective to the popular myth of Indigenous decline and disappearance.”
—Christina Nicole Snyder, author of Great Crossings

About the Author

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.