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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

American Empires

A frank study of native history requires nuance and moderation.

Idaho Native Americans, 1897
Two Native Americans from a Southeastern Idaho reservation, wearing tribal dress. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Indigenous Continent: The Epic Contest for North America by Pekka Hämäläinen (2022, Liveright), 592 pages.

In Indigenous Continent, Finnish historian Pekka Hämäläinen reinterprets the colonization of North America as an encounter between civilizational and political equals. It is a major undertaking, and it’s not clear that he manages to back up his core contentions. But even in partial failure, Hämäläinen illuminates the complex relationship between American and indigenous power.