Indians in the United States and Canada: A Comparative History

Article excerpt

Roger Nichols, Indians in the United States and Canada: Comparative History (Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1998).

After over 500 years of Indian-white relations in the Western Hemisphere, indigenous peoples all over the Americas have encountered many similar developments. This observation seems especially valid for the native peoples of Canada and the United States. Although the experiences of the culturally diverse Native American societies in both countries varies widely throughout time and place, indigenous North Americans still faced many similar economic, demographic, political, and cultural challenges. Indians and Europeans in the two countries' histories of colonization both established often mutually beneficial trade relations and sought political alliances. Eventually, these developments led to Native American marginality and dependency. However, throughout the twentieth century in both the United States and in Canada, several Native American societies have regained cultural strength. Today, in their political activism, both Canadian and American Indians share and work towards many of the same objectives such as tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Furthermore, particularly in the last few decades, both countries' first peoples have demonstrated an acute awareness of their common struggles.

Still, despite all these similarities there exists surprisingly little comparative work on the Indian peoples of the two nations. Thus, Roger Nichols' Indians in the United States and Canada: A Comparative History breaks exciting new ground and provides scholars and interested lay people with a long needed introductory study. Nichols provides a well-researched and clearly written comparative narrative that offers many insights into the history of Indian-white relations in Canada and the United States. This book also does an excellent job in underscoring the complexity of cultures and processes that occurred in the two countries. …