Common Read 2019-20: An Indigenous Peoples' History of the U.S.

The UUA Common Read for 2019-20 offered two related books: An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press, 2015) and An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese (Beacon Press, 2019).

In 2015, Beacon Press published an extraordinary book by Indigenous scholar and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz that challenged readers to learn US history through a narrative that centers the story, the experiences, and the perspectives of Indigenous peoples. In 2019, Beacon Press published an adaptation for young people by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese. Upending myths and misinformation that have been promulgated by leaders and media, it asks readers to reconsider the origin story of the United States taught to US schoolchildren.

covers of Indigenous Peoples' History of the US and young people's version

Books tell a history that centers the experiences and perspectives of Indigenous peoples.

The year 2020 marked the 400th anniversary of the much-mythologized encounter at Plymouth between colonists and those native to the land. The UUA General Assembly 2020, held virtually, lifted up truths that contradict the mythology. At the same time, movements in response to global and local environmental emergencies, many involving UUs, increasingly recognized the connection between Indigenous rights and climate justice. This Common Read invites UU congregations, communities, and individuals to learn the story of trauma and resilience that is the Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.

If you are not familiar at all with this history, we suggest that you read the version for young people. The discussion guide (PDF, 37 pages) for this Common Read (one 90-minute session, or a three-session series) will work for readers of either version. Note: The original 2015 book is available to download from Audible as an audiobook.

Share your congregation's participation in this Common Read.