The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History

Winner, National Book Awards 2023 for Nonfiction

ISBN 9780300244052
Yale University Press
Author photo of Ned Blackhawk. (Photo credit: Dan Renzetti)
Ned Blackhawk

Ned Blackhawk is the Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University, where he serves as the faculty coordinator for the Yale Group for the Study of Native America. A graduate of McGill University, he holds graduate degrees in history from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Washington. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

The most enduring feature of US history is the presence of Native Americans, yet most histories focus on Europeans and their descendants. This long practice of ignoring Indigenous history is changing, however, with a new generation of scholars insists that any full American history address the struggle, survival, and resurgence of American Indian nations. Indigenous history is essential to understanding the evolution of modern America.

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 twentieth century. In this transformative synthesis he shows 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 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;
• 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.

Judges Citation

Drawing on prodigious scholarship conducted over decades, Ned Blackhawk centers Indigenous people across a sweep of 500 years of United States history, reimagining and retelling familiar historical episodes from a new point of departure. In the process, Blackhawk “rediscovers” America, guiding his readers to a novel understanding of our nation’s past and, hopefully, our collective future. This is an enlightening, transformative, and enduring work.


Ned Blackhawk accepts the 2023 National Book Award for Nonfiction for The Rediscovery of America

Ned Blackhawk at the 2023 National Book Awards Finalist Reading