First Americans - Resource Bibliography

Publications - First Americans

First Americans - A History of Native Peoples

By Kenneth W. Townsend
Pearson (2012)
672 Pages

First Americans provides a comprehensive history of Native Americans from their earliest appearance in North America to the present, highlighting the complexity and diversity of their cultures and their experiences. Native voices permeate the text and shape its narrative, underlining the agency and vitality of Native peoples and cultures in the context of regional, continental, and global developments. This updated edition of First Americans continues to trace Native experiences through the Obama administration years and up to the present day. 

America's Fascinating Indian Heritage 

By Reader's Digest
Reader's Digest (1978)
416 Pages

Brings whole story into focus -- as it really happened. Meet these men and women, the memory of whom still haunts America -- and get acquainted with an integral part of our heritage -- in this honest and informative celebration of the American Indian.

Timelines of Native American History

By Susan Hazen-Hammond
TarcherPerigee (1997)
352 Pages

Timelines of Native American History is a highly useful volume of historical reference: it is a well-organized and well-indexed chronology of events significant to Native Americans. Beginning at 20,000 B.C., when some theorists of prehistory conjecture the first Native Americans arrived, and ending with modern prophecies about events of the 21st century, Susan Hazen-Hammond's book takes in a broad range of occurrences--floods, epidemics, wars, and even the occasional piece of good news. Studded with entertaining, instructive sidebars that recount Native American folklore and ways of life, this is a fine book for younger readers as well as adults.

Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens

By S. Martin & N. Grube
Thames and Hudson (2000)
240 Pages

A superb guide to eleven of the `most influential and best-known kingdoms' that helped to shape Mayan history, including 152 biographical accounts of 152 kings and 4 ruling queens. Written by two of the foremost experts on Mayan hieroglyphic decipherment, this book includes a concise text accompanied by a timeline, illustrations, maps, photographs, useful summaries and guides to decipherment and spellings. It outlines the major periods of history and aspects of Mayan culture before focusing on issues of divinity, power and authority, the royal court, war, death and burial and politics for each of the kingdoms studied: Tikal, Dos Pilas, Naranjo, Caracol, Calakmul, Yaxchilan, Piedras Negras, Palenque, Tonina, Copan and Quirigua.

"There's nothing else like this book. It supersedes everything else ever written on Maya history." -- Michael D. Coe, author of Breaking the Maya Code

Remarkable Remains of the Ancient Peoples of Guatemala

By Jacques and Parney VanKirk
Univ of Oklahoma (1996)
243 Pages

This lavishly illustrated book provides a photo record of numerous sites and objects left behind by the Maya and other pre-Columbian people in Guatemala, Jacques VanKirk and Parney Bassett-VanKirk settled in El Peten, Guatemala, in the early 1960s, started a guide service, and spent the next twenty years photographing both well-known and obscure ruins that they visited. Many of the archaeological treasures have subsequently been stolen or destroyed, so that few if any records of them, other than the VanKirk's photographs, remain.

The two hundred and twelve black-and-white and eighty-five color photographs, accompanied by informative, anecdotal text, will be of interest to armchair travelers, collectors, and archaeologists alike.


The Great Courses - First Americans


Documentaries - First Americans

500 Nations

2007 – WB

Kevin Costner hosts this documentary that explores various American Indian nations and their fall to European conquerors. The program chronicles North and Central American tribal history from the pre-Columbian era to the end of the 19th century.

Trail of Tears - A Native American Documentary Collection

2010 - Mill Creek

Native Americans have experienced a history full of oppression and racism. Since the period when Native tribes were found on this continent at the time of its "discovery", the British and American governments disregarded Native Americans as the owners of the territory they occupied and used aggressive force to take their lands and destroy their people. 

Lost Kingdom of South America

2013 – BBC

In this four-part series, archaeologist Dr Jago Cooper reveals the extraordinary history of some of South America's ancient civilizations. Exploring spectacular ruins and investigating the truth behind legends that surround these fascinating cultures, Dr Cooper journeys through Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The series reveals the true character of a stunning continent through its archaeology, culture, people and landscapes.

Dawn of the Maya

2005 – Nat Geo

Dawn Of The Maya uncovers astounding evidence of a society that flourished in the deep jungles of Guatemala long before the time of Jesus Christ. Beneath the jungle lie ancient revelations of complex iconography, florescence clues to a dynasty of pre-classic king, elaborate palaces and dazzling rituals. 

The Aztec Empire

2005 - History

When explorer Hernando Cortés arrived in the New World in 1519, he found the present-day nation of Mexico dominated by the Aztecs. Highly skilled farmers, builders, and merchants, they were also savage warriors who practiced human sacrifice. 

We Shall Remain

2010 – PBS

With depth, breadth and richness, Native American history is told through indigenous eyes in this revolutionary docudrama. Exploring five pivotal periods, the series spans 300 years of Indian adversity, resilience and self-determination.

America Before Columbus

2009 – Nat Geo

History books traditionally depict the pre-Columbus Americas as a pristine wilderness where small native villages lived in harmony with nature. But scientific evidence tells us that America wasn't exactly a "New World," but a very old one whose inhabitants had built a vast infrastructure of cities, orchards, canals, and causeways.

Cracking the Maya Code (NOVA)

2008 – PBS

For the first time, NOVA presents the epic inside story of how the decoding was done, told by the experts at the center of one of archaeology's greatest detective stories. Cracking the Maya Code highlights the ingenious breakthroughs that opened the door to deciphering the elaborate and exotic script and finally cracked the code, unleashing a flood of dramatic new insights about the ancient civilization.

The Maya – Temples, Tombs, & Time

1995 – Questar

Using recent breakthroughs in deciphering Maya glyphs and archaeological discoveries, we take a new look at the Maya, now widely considered to have been the most brilliant and advanced indigenous people of the Americas.

Palenque – Metropolis of the Mayans

2009 – History

Now, LOST WORLDS assembles a team of historical detectives to piece together clues about the extraordinary Mayan city of Palenque. The group uses evidence from recent excavations including the Mayans own sacred geometry, which underpins the city s grand design state-of-the-art scientific studies, and fascinating archival documents to digitally reconstruct the metropolis, resulting in a stunningly beautiful and historically accurate vision of Palenque at its zenith.

The Great Indian Wars - 1540-1890

2005 - Mill Creek

The year 1540 was a crucial turning point in American history. The Great Indian Wars were incited by Francisco Vazquez de Coronado when his expedition to the Great Plains launched the inevitable 350-year struggle between the white man and the American Indians. 

Lost Kingdom of Central America

2014 – BBC

In this four-part series, archaeologist Dr Jago Cooper reveals the extraordinary history of some of South America's ancient civilizations. Exploring spectacular ruins and investigating the truth behind legends that surround these fascinating cultures, Dr Cooper journeys through Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The series reveals the true character of a stunning continent through its archaeology, culture, people and landscapes.

Fall of the Aztec and Mayans

2007 – Questar

The Mayans and Aztecs developed complex and intelligent societies, and much of their culture is still mysterious to us, but this video does a good job of explaining the basic history of who these people were and how they lived. 

Lost City of the Incas  - Machu Picchu

2005 - History

The spectacular Incan city of Machu Picchu, high in the Andes Mountains, was long thought to be legendary. Then in 1911, the intrepid explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled upon its remains. But while the walls and chambers have been extensively studied in the years since, the purpose of this ancient site remains unclear. Go to the top of the world to unravel the mysteries of this enigmatic place. See incredible footage of the earliest expeditions to Machu Picchu, and meet the men and women who have dedicated their lives to unearthing its secrets. 

The Truth Behind the Nazca Lines

2010 – Nat Geo

Are they ancient road maps or messages for visiting aliens? Lying at the foothill of Peru's Andes Mountains is the site of one of the world's greatest mysteries. Etched, as if by giants, onto its arid, moonscape plains are immense lines that stretch for miles, forming strange shapes recognizable only from the air.

Theatrical Features


Apocalypto (2006)

The Mayan kingdom is at the height of its opulence and power but the foundations of the empire are beginning to crumble. The leaders believe they must build more temples and sacrifice more people or their crops and citizens will die. Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), a peaceful hunter in a remote tribe, is captured along with his entire village in a raid. He is scheduled for a ritual sacrifice until he makes a daring escape and tries to make it back to his pregnant wife and son.

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