STOLEN CONTINENTS: The Americas Through Indian Eyes Since 1492 by Ronald Wright

STOLEN CONTINENTS: The Americas Through Indian Eyes Since 1492

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Clear and concise history detailing the experiences of Native Americans on both continents from 1492 to 1990, from travel-writer and Mayan specialist Wright (Time Among The Maya, 1989; On Fiji Islands, 1986, etc.). Rather than attempt a comprehensive rendering of the centuries of genocide practiced by those who came in the wake of Columbus, Wright sensibly opts to present a few of the ""highlights."" The savagery practiced against five major cultures--the Maya, Inca, Aztec, Cherokee, and Iroquois--and their responses appear in three stages, encompassing five hundred years: the initial periods of contact in each case; the hard and bloody struggles of these peoples once the battle was joined; and the modern phase, in which resistance continues along with the resolve to endure. Using contemporary native accounts wherever possible, in the belief that the white version has been heard often enough, Wright recounts Montezuma's failed strategy to welcome CortÉs as an equal, which led to his palace becoming his prison; the Cherokee Nation's willingness two centuries later to emulate Western civilization, which only brought forced removal to Oklahoma and death along the Trail of Tears; and other base betrayals. Even with their societies largely destroyed, however, retention of an indigenous identity for the Incan descendants in Peru and their Mayan counterparts in Guatemala, and events such as last year's tense standoff between defiant Iroquois and thousands of Canadian troops can be seen, Wright says, as evidence that a determined native resistance continues. Familiar facts but a distinctive viewpoint: an intensely partisan chronicle of centuries of dishonor, written in a fluid, vivid style.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin