Book Review: Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory  – Claudio Saunt 

I picked up this book because I am attending Claudio Saunt’s session at the upcoming April 30th #antiracistbookfest and I like to read the contributor’s books before I attend, when possible. This is an excellent history of the forced expulsion of the indigenous peoples of the United States from their homelands into ‘Indian Territory’ throughout the 19th century, focusing primarily on the 1830’s. I found this book to be very well researched with an extensive bibliography. Saunt also utilizes the legal record of treaties and legal cases to demonstrate how the US government continually reneged on their agreements with indigenous peoples as well as the blatant racism that drove the policies and actions of both US officials and white citizens throughout this period of dispossession. 

The content of this book is disturbing, all the more disturbing because it is our history. The violence, coercion, and blatant disregard for the health and safety of native peoples’ during this period should be horrifying to all readers and while the details of this forced removal are appalling and difficult to confront (read about) as a nation we must face the horrors of our past if we hope to do better in the future. Saunt’s book gives voice to the many indigenous leaders working and fighting to preserve their people and their people’s way-of-life/culture against insurmountable odds and a deceitful US government that continually ignored it’s own treaty agreements and meted out horrific violence on native peoples in order to obtain their lands and properties for their own personal gain. 

I found this book to be very readable (especially for a history) and would recommend it to all Americans! The narrative moves quickly and the same ‘characters’ appear throughout the book which lends to a sense of cohesiveness and an almost ‘novel-like’ readability. 

Read on my friends!

-Haddi 

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