The master narrative of American history depicts the triumph of “civilization” over “savagery,” with Angloamerican settlers braving the wilderness to assert their “right” to establish a state over which they would exert complete control. It is a story of constant and inevitable progress, of racial and gendered hierarchies, and of the transformation of land and people into property. It overwrites the stories of others—particularly the peoples indigenous to these lands—erasing their histories, worldviews, and often even their existence, masking the violence inherent to colonization. This chapter sets the stage for the construction of narratives that better account for the actual histories of all peoples within the United States, thereby providing a more realistic basis for meaningful change.
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