Book: Native America and the Question of Genocide

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Did Native Americans suffer genocide? This controversial question lies at the heart of Native America and the Question of Genocide.

After reviewing the various meanings of the word “genocide,” author Alex Alvarez examines a range of well-known examples, such as the Sand Creek Massacre and the Long Walk of the Navajo, to determine where genocide occurred and where it did not. The book explores the destructive beliefs of the European settlers and then looks at topics including disease, war, and education through the lens of genocide.

This book shows the diversity of Native American experiences post-contact and illustrates how tribes relied on ever-evolving and changing strategies of confrontation and accommodation, depending on their location, the time period and the individuals involved and how these often resulted in very different experiences. Alvarez treats this difficult subject with sensitivity and uncovers the complex realities of this troubling period in American history.

Book Review by Brittany:

Brittany, who found this particular book "Native America and the Question of Genocide" by Alex Alvarez, to be interesting and one which definitely made her think out loud!

When people think of the genocide, their minds typically go down a rabbit hole and picture a morbid scene of death and destruction. The word’s simple definition speaks for itself. Genocide comes from the Greek word “genos” which means race or tribe and the Latin word “cide” which means killing. So, the translation of genocide literally means the killing of a race or tribe.

The book, "Native America and the Question of Genocide" by Alex Alvarez, covers the controversial topic of genocide of Native Americans from the arrival of Columbus and European settlers on what they dubbed as the “new world” to present day. Alvarez possesses a great sensitivity to this particular serious and overall devastating topic. Moreover, the book explores a series of determinations of whether certain outrages, war crimes, polices, accidents, etc. are or were considered genocide.

Yet, however which way scholars, activists, politicians, or even just you or me see it, – genocide happened to our indigenous people no question about it! Unfortunately, to our present day there are still those who want to expand or redefine the definition of genocide when it comes to America’s history of indigenous people. To put it plainly, Alvarez does a good job emphasizing that there are too many instances where the current definition of genocide falls short based on the devastating events that took place. Ultimately this book puts in perspective how instead of focusing on what was or wasn’t “genocide”, the bottom line is that indigenous people have indeed suffered greatly from inequality, prejudice, ridicule, and have even faced near annihilation of whole cultures. Furthermore, Alvarez also points out that it’s time for the word genocide to turn into acceptance, understanding, and openness without the pain of inequality, prejudice, and overall hate hanging us like a perpetual, soul-sucking shadow!


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