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the discovery

Smashing myths of nation’s native peoples

It shouldn’t be news to anyone that much of the history we learned in school about the nation’s treatment of those who were here long before white Europeans floated over to Plymouth Rock glosses over most of the dark, shameful story. What you may not know is how much of what we think we know about native cultures today remains something of a cover-up. In “All the Real Indians Died Off’’ (Beacon), Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker tackle 21 myths about Native Americans, tracing the evolution of these misconceptions and stereotypes, such as “Indians are naturally predisposed to alcoholism”; “sports mascots honor Native Americans”; and “Columbus discovered America.” The authors reframe the prevailing narratives, addressing, with nuance and force, issues of authenticity, settler colonialism, erasure, fear, power and political agendas. Theirs is an essential, and highly readable, history.NINA MACLAUGHLIN