Russell Contreras, AP, August 25, 2019
University of Oregon history professor Jeffrey Ostler’s just-released “Surviving Genocide: Native Nations and the United States from the American Revolution and Bleeding Kansas” argues that the emergence of American democracy depended on the taking of Native lands.
Leaders of the fledgling nation also felt that removing Native Americans from the ancestral land — by any means necessary — was key to allowing an expanding and poorer white population to move west, the historian writes.
Ostler said he based his book on 30 years of research by other scholars in the field of Native American studies, but wanted to do a large survey of how tribes saw the looming U.S. threat.
Future President Thomas Jefferson would even write from France that the U.S. needed a constant supply of land to grow while ignoring the people who already lived there, Ostler said.
Ostler’s book is the first of two volumes on Native American history.
Columbia University history professor Karl Jacoby called Ostler’s book an exciting work in Native American history. Jacoby said it would counter the romantic story portrayed in such recent books like David McCullough’s “The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West.”
Ostler said he is working on finishing his second volume of “Surviving Genocide” which will cover the how Native Americans responded to attempts to remove and kill them in New Mexico, Arizona and the Pacific Northwest.