Image - Ned Blackhawk

Past Event

Ned Blackhawk: Native Americans at the Center of U.S. History

Over the past decade, there have been a growing number of efforts among historians to broaden, reframe and deepen the understanding of early United States history and the many ways that descriptions of the country's early development ignore or overlook the central role played by specific groups of people. The most prominent of the these efforts have focused on African-Americans and the central role that Black Americans have played in America's founding and development. Now, an increasing number of historians are turning their attention to placing Native Americans at the core of understanding U.S. history. Yale University historian Ned Blackhawk's new book, The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History, is perhaps the most visible of these efforts.

As Blackhawk notes, among the most enduring features of U.S. history is the presence of Native Americans, yet most histories focus on Europeans and their descendants, and overlook the role of Indigenous peoples. Blackhawk believes that Indigenous history is essential to understanding the evolution of modern America, and he interweaves five centuries of Native and non‑Native histories to show that any understanding of American history must place Native Americans near the center of the story, from early European colonization, to the start of the American Revolution, to the shape and impact of the Civil War, including the massacre of California Indians. Blackhawk’s retelling of U.S. history acknowledges the enduring power, agency, and survival of Indigenous peoples, yielding a more complex account of the United States.

Please join us for a groundbreaking discussion on expanding our understanding of U.S. history and Blackhawk's view that it remains incomplete without fully engaging with the history and impact of the country's first inhabitants. 

MLF Organizer
George Hammond

A Humanities Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

Photo by Dan Renzetti.

May 23, 2023

The Commonwealth Club of California
United States

Image - Ned Blackhawk

Ned Blackhawk

Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University; Author, The Rediscovery of America: Natives Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History

Moderator TBA