Traditional histories of North and South America often leave the impression that Native American peoples had little impact on the colonies and empires established by Europeans after 1492. This groundbreaking study, which spans more than 300 years, demonstrates the agency of indigenous peoples in forging their own history and that of the Western Hemisphere. By putting the story of the indigenous peoples and their encounters with Europeans at the center, a new history of the New World emerges in which the Native Americans become vibrant and vitally important components of the British, French, Spanish, and Portuguese empires. In fact, their presence was the single most important factor in the development of the colonial world. By discussing the great encounter of peoples and cultures, this book provides a valuable, new perspective on the history of the Americas.