Atlas of the North American Indian by Carl Waldman ’65. Anything that can be tracked down about the native Americans from time immemorial to the Twenty-First Century can be found in this thorough and amazingly researched tome. The many maps (this is an atlas, after all) show the movement of groups, trade routes, sites of Indian land claims, and then the progession of territorial conquest. People were crossing the Bering Strait land bridge perhaps as long ago as cave dwellers were painting on their walls at Lascaux. For knowledge of the first arrivals we are dependent on archeologists and more recently DNA experts. By the time Europeans began their explorations, there were many tribes throughout the continent, separated from each other by distance, culture and language.
What happens post Columbus can only be viewed as tragic. Once when my grandson Paul was very little, we went to the play at Cherokee called “Unto These Hills.” As the story leading the Trail of Tears unfolded, Paul was increasingly alarmed by how treacherous the white man was. He whispered in my ear, “Are we white?” The past cannot by undone, but this book enables the willing to understand it more fully. Carl notes at the end of the book that the Iroquois have a concept that decisions should be made based on their effect seven generations hence. One or two would be an improvement.