Indian Givers

How Native Americans Transformed the World

Author Jack Weatherford, an anthropologist, traces the crucial contributions made by Native Americans to our federal system of government, our democratic institutions, modern medicine, agriculture, architecture, ecology and more. This ground-breaking book makes a deep sweep of history seem vital and immediate. It is both entertaining and thoughtful.
351 pages. ©2010.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted October 8, 2019


This book was engaging and informative. It was an easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend this book to anyone interested in history, traditional ecological knowledge, or any non-fiction book where you want to learn. So full of info and interesting that I will read this one again.


Review posted September 28, 2019


I learned so much from this book! The combination of the books Lies My Teachers Told Me, There There, and Indian Givers have given me a profound appreciation for the Native American culture. What an incredible group of individuals. They have absolutely impacted our world in such positive ways. Thank you Select Books!


Review posted September 18, 2019


Well written, and much needed history: how Bolivian silver promoted individual liberty, tales of potatoes and tomatoes, diplomacy that impressed Benjamin Franklin, and even more. I will pass this book on to others! Easy, short read as well.


Review posted September 5, 2019


Great book, from a great writer. This author writes from a different angle. Very interesting.


Review posted August 27, 2019


An engaging and thorough presentation of Native Americans' impact on the cultural formation of North America. Provides a more complete and diverse history of our formation as a nation.


Review posted August 27, 2019


Very interesting historical accounts that bring to light the stories of greed, prejudice, exploitation, and deaths of so many.

Audrey Henry

Review posted August 19, 2019


Weatherford does an excellent job bringing history to life and explaining how much of our world today was created due to what we learned 500 years ago from native Americans. Exploring issues such as our government structure. Home remedies when it comes to treating as medicine, etc.


Review posted August 9, 2019


This was a great book. Loved it!


Review posted August 2, 2019


This is a book I will keep on my shelf. Reading this confirms the truth that we truly are "one world." The food and crop contributions from the New World to the Old World are pretty well known (potatoes, tomatoes, corn, tobacco) but some of the other Native American contributions are less well known, such as how the gold and silver extracted from the New World and sent to Europe enabled a money system with standardized values and a true world economy. The story is deep and the book detailed. Since each chapter covers a different subject it is not necessary to read the whole thing page by page. But it is a book I expect to refer back to time and time again.


Review posted July 30, 2019


I loved how this book shared many native peoples contributions to our modern world! I think it is a well written history of how miss treated and unappreciated an entire people have been and how thankful we should be that they shared their knowledge with the world.


Review posted July 25, 2019


The author, Jack Weatherford, has an almost unique ability to find connections between causes and effects. This book follows up on his earlier book "Indian Givers" that explains the many aspects of our dominant (Anglo) culture that are borrowed, at least in part, from Native culture. The book is ultimately a good reminder that we who are not Indigenous to this continent took this land from those that were. We owe Native people much more than they have received.

Sharon Morgan

Review posted July 15, 2019


I wish Indian Givers were in every middle and high school classroom - and assigned reading! Organized with "partnered" chapters, one providing history and the second detailing outcomes, it provides a strong foundation for discussion and reflection.


Review posted July 11, 2019


Indian Givers was a good historical overview of the ways that Native peoples from all over the Americas have greatly influenced the current culture and society, where they are usually not given that credit. It was very informative to see how food, agriculture, architecture, governing, and other aspects of Western life have been shaped by those that were here on this land well before us.


Review posted July 11, 2019


"Indian Givers" is a well written book with interesting present day narratives at the beginning of each chapter that relate back to the chapters subject. The author does a good job of giving the reader a glimpse into the history of how some modern practices came to be. Great book for anyone interested in history.


Review posted July 1, 2019


I was not sure what to expect from this book. However it was very interesting. I work for tribal, so this was a great insight.


Review posted June 26, 2019


When i was growing up we visited Minnesota and loved to watch the "indian" dances, listen to their stories, and watch them deftly harvest wild rice. I did not know at that time the impact they had on our history. The title of the story first has a negative connotation but the information inside is informative and fascinating. I enjoyed this book immensely.


Review posted May 29, 2019


This book was cooler than I expected. I'm still ruminating on the agricultural influence of Native Americans. It seems likely that the world would be very different without potatoes, tomatoes, beans, and guano. This is the Native American history that is missing in our schools and in our relationships with others.


Review posted May 26, 2019


Overall, Indian Givers was a good book and seemingly well researched. Some of it drags, but some chapters read well. He gives many examples of the contributions of food, medicine, and philosophy that have contributed to world culture, but sometimes fails to acknowledge the parallels that developed in the rest of the world. For example, Mr. Weatherford extols the design and construction of the Inca roads, but fails to recognize that the Romans created an equally intricate paved road system much earlier. Ingenuity is world-wide, but is geared towards the problems at hand. All in all, I recommend "Indian Givers" as a good book to read, consider, and draw your own conclusion.


Review posted May 8, 2019


I have to admit, I thought Indian Givers was going to be a dry intellectual discourse about the impact that indigenous tribes have made on the world. I was completely surprised when reading this book by Jack Weatherford. The information was shared in a very readable prose style, which allows the reader to engage both the rational and creative aspects of his writing. I recommend this as a book that gives a insightful perspective on how the world is made better because of Native Americans and their creative, innovative and spiritual culture.


Review posted May 7, 2019


interesting book. Gives you a different perspective..things you never realized there is another side


Review posted May 7, 2019


I found generally interesting information in this book mostly about the agriculture of the Americas. Had hoped that the book would focus more on US Indian culture as it relates to us today. Felt the book was hard to read as it jumped through time for each subject, would have preferred more chronological picture of the total contribution to our modern uses of the past knowledge of the Indian practices.

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Review posted April 30, 2019


This was a fascinating read. I found it to be a bit of a slow start, but the chapters on healing, food, and drugs were especially interesting and enlightening. My eyes were opened!


Review posted April 23, 2019


This is an amazing book, that traces some of our common terms as well as many of our democracy's' roots. Very easy read, and enlightening.

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Review posted April 22, 2019


There is a lot of history in this book. I thought it would be more about Native American history but feel that the book digresses into much more.


Review posted April 17, 2019


“The discovery of America sparked a revolution in food and cuisine that has not yet shown any signs of abating.” I received this book from the Ford Family Foundation for free as long as I was willing to review it. I am happily fulfilling my obligation. This is the story of the many benefits the world received when they discovered America. I think we all know about the many foods like tomatoes, avocadoes and pecans they gave us. How many of us know about the medicinal contributions like aspirin, or growing vegetable benefits like putting in fish heads along with the seed when planting? My favorite new thing I learned was that our government and constitution contain many items that the Native Indians used in their confederacies, including one man, one vote. Ben Franklin was a student of their governing style when he was in charge of the Indians in his district. He brought a lot of their ideas to include in our constitution. This was a fascinating history of the many benefits we gained from the native tribes that lived in the Americas. I think it is about time they got their due.


Review posted April 12, 2019


This book holds a wealth of historical and socio-cultural information about how indigenous people have shaped our food industry, pharmaceutical industry and retail industrial. It was nice to know where words such as "jerky" and "BBQ" came from. I highly recommend this book for anyone how loves history and culture. With any accurate recount of Native Americans and Indigenous people, there are graphic recounts of the realities of colonization, war and slavery.


Review posted April 8, 2019


Not quite what I was expecting, but still a good read.


Review posted April 2, 2019


At first I balked a bit at the title of this book, as “Indian giver” is an offensive term to Native Americans. But it’s a well-written piece, that dives deep in a number of areas about Native American history and culture — and how they have influenced the country we know today. It is worth the read.


Review posted February 10, 2019


Super informative, but kinda boring.


Review posted January 9, 2019


I thought this book was great. Very accessibly written, provides a lot of interesting information. Each chapter covers a different topic, such as agriculture, architecture, medicine, etc. and outlines the huge contributions made by indigenous peoples of the Americas. Personally the story i found most interesting was about the Creek people of the southeast US and how their leader successfully held off incursions by the British, French, Americans & Spanish around them by playing them off against each other, and then the cultural movement that arose (called the Red Sticks) after that leader died.


Review posted December 20, 2018


This book was initially difficult for me to "get into," perhaps because it began with financial activities. However, it was ultimately fascinating the areas of our current world we owe thanks for to Native Americans.


Review posted December 15, 2018


I got this book intending to give it away when I was finished to an aunt. After reading it I got my aunt her own because it was too good. It reminded me of the book Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt with the way it was written. I learned a great deal about ingeniousness people across the globe.


Review posted December 2, 2018


Well put together. I enjoyed reading this very much as I do all of the publications offered by the Ford Family Foundation. Thank you William Schmidt


Review posted November 20, 2018


I was so thankful to add this book to my collection on Native American culture and sociology. I myself am a Modoc Native of Klamath Falls. I have known for a long time just how great the native Americans were. But I didn’t know exactly how much they changed European culture itself. 5 stars!


Review posted November 9, 2018


This is a very informative book, not a leisurely book, very educational


Review posted November 2, 2018


Great read!


Review posted November 2, 2018


I enjoyed reading about the origin of so many everyday things, especially the foods we currently enjoy. Who knew that America contributed so generously to the cuisine enjoyed throughout the whole world? I suppose, because of the beautiful illustration on the cover, I was expecting the book to focus more on the Indians who live in the United States. instead, it seemed to be more about the history of the people south of the US. I learned a lot about the metal mining and how the other established countries of the world ransacked the Americas and killed the inhabitants, either through murder or by making slave laborers out of them. If you enjoy reading about the origin of modern life, you'll like this book.

Dione Jordan

Review posted October 30, 2018




Review posted October 22, 2018


This book was an interesting read. Well covered about Indians and history of our early natives.

Niki Price

Review posted October 15, 2018


REALLY learned a lot from this book -- especially the discussion of urban planning, and the author's thoughts on democracy as an Indian concept.


Review posted October 1, 2018


Really useful book


Review posted September 20, 2018


I really enjoyed and appreciated reading this book. My knowledge on the Native American history was minor compared to what this book offered me. I have a much better understanding of the culture especially relating to the farming/land use, medical and governance structure.


Review posted September 14, 2018


I found book "Indian Givers" to be both thoughtful and entertaining. The author manages to keep the reader engaged while sometimes discussing sensitive material. It wasn't a book I would normally choose for myself to read, but I'm very glad that I chose to pick it up!


Review posted September 3, 2018


Jack Weatherford is truly a master of his craft and is a premier historian and anthropologist. This work is just as compelling as his Genghis Khan book, as it is well researched and professionally stated. Weatherford embraces Native American culture and ties that culture into the frame of the larger world. Native American culture has had a significant impact on the formation of American cultural, social, and political practices. Weatherford certainly provides a credit to that historical fact.


Review posted August 22, 2018


Good read, good information


Review posted August 12, 2018


Interesting read.

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Review posted August 2, 2018


This a an amazingly insightful look at a very whitewashed part of the story of the Americas. I

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Review posted July 22, 2018


This was an eye-opening perspective on how the Native American culture shaped our world.


Review posted July 20, 2018


highly recommend


Review posted July 11, 2018


I loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in Native Americans and what they have contributed to this country.


Review posted June 20, 2018


Indian Givers was a great read. As a Native American myself, the title intrigued me as well as made me wonder as "Indian Giver" generally has a negative stigma attached to it, but all in all it was super informative and I learned a lot


Review posted June 6, 2018


This book is an excellent read about the great contributions of the native peoples of America to modern American culture. It offers a perspective of history that is often obscured--if not utterly neglected--in our parochial educational system.


Review posted May 31, 2018


So much knowledge stuffed into the pages. It is Well written, yet a bit hard handling the volume of detail. Specifically naming every Mountain, near City, roads and rivers close by. Do not let the names and lack of pronunciations deter you. It is engrossing and an overall pleasure.


Review posted May 21, 2018


This book is a very thorough journey through Indian history. At times, a bit too informative but informative non the least. I was expecting more of a novel.