Many school children celebrate a cliché Thanksgiving tradition in class where they play Indians and Pilgrims, and some children engage in the play of Cowboys vs. Indians. It is known that some died when colonization occurred, that some fought the United States government, and that they can be boiled down to just another school mascot. This is what many people understand of the original inhabitants of America. Historical knowledge of these people has been shallow and stereotyped. The past 150 years has given birth to a literate people now able to record their past, present, and future. Native American literature, as it evolves, defines the Native American culture and its status in the world, as an evolving people, more so than any historical account can. Before colonization, the Native Americans used oral traditions to teach, remember, entertain, and pray. Much of this knowledge was lost because of various reasons. After translation became an option some of these were written down. This is the beginning of Native American literature, the becoming of sound into word. A major pattern of distrust for the white man’s words are evident in this beginning of their literature. Cochise, an Apache leader, made a speech in 1872, loosely entitled [I am Alone] that addressed Americans. This was translated by a white man. It is not known how accurate it is, however, it conveys a strong message. Cochise is a proud man, who is always truthful. “I hereby pledge my word, a word that has never been broken” (1463). He has his doubts about the truthfulness of the Whites whom he watched come in small numbers and had welcomed in friendship. Cochise was confused to their behavior, “At last your soldiers did me a very great wrong”(1463). When they ... ... middle of paper ... ...can literature you find the accounts of things such as the slaughtering of buffalo and leaving them to rot on the ground, and the United States government forbidding Indians to practice their religious rites and beliefs (Momaday 2507). The history books do not tell these things. History is written by those who write, and often enough by the ones that find themselves in power by gift or coercion. History has dealt the indigenous cultures of America a hard blow. The culture-shock faced by these people, who have dwindled down in number from the vast and populous tribes, is one that is still being felt today. Fortunately more and more Native American literature is being written and discovered. From these accounts, verse, and prose and insight can be gained into these proud people who are living in another man's world, once theirs, and have paid to do so ever since.
In his essay, “The Indians’ Old World,” Neal Salisbury examined a recent shift in the telling of Native American history in North America. Until recently, much of American history, as it pertains to Native Americans; either focused on the decimation of their societies or excluded them completely from the discussion (Salisbury 25). Salisbury also contends that American history did not simply begin with the arrival of Europeans. This event was an episode of a long path towards America’s development (Salisbury 25). In pre-colonial America, Native Americans were not primitive savages, rather a developing people that possessed extraordinary skill in agriculture, hunting, and building and exhibited elaborate cultural and religious structures.
Local histories written in the nineteenth century are often neglected today. Yet from these accounts, one can see a pattern develop: the myth of Indian extinction, the superiority of White colonists and also to understand how American attitudes and values evolved. The myths were put forth for a reason according to Jean O’Brien. O’Brien explains how the process came to fruition in Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England. In the majority of local town histories, Indians are mentioned in passing, as a past that will never return. Indians were ancient, whereas English colonists brought modernity to New England. Jean O’Brien argues that local histories were the primary means by which white European Americans asserted
Native American’s place in United States history is not as simple as the story of innocent peace loving people forced off their lands by racist white Americans in a never-ending quest to quench their thirst for more land. Accordingly, attempts to simplify the indigenous experience to nothing more than victims of white aggression during the colonial period, and beyond, does an injustice to Native American history. As a result, historians hoping to shed light on the true history of native people during this period have brought new perceptive to the role Indians played in their own history. Consequently, the theme of power and whom controlled it over the course of Native American/European contact is being presented in new ways. Examining the evolving
The depiction of Native Americans to the current day youth in the United States is a colorful fantasy used to cover up an unwarranted past. Native people are dressed from head to toe in feathers and paint while dancing around fires. They attempt to make good relations with European settlers but were then taken advantage of their “hippie” ways. However, this dramatized view is particularly portrayed through media and mainstream culture. It is also the one perspective every person remembers because they grew up being taught these views. Yet, Colin Calloway the author of First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History, wishes to bring forth contradicting ideas. He doesn’t wish to disprove history; he only wishes to rewrite it.
Native American Captivity Narratives are accounts about people of European decent getting captured by their enemy “the savage” (Hawkes, par. 1). According to the “Encyclopedia of The Great Plains” These accounts were widely popular in the 17th century and had an adventurous story-line, resulting from a conflict between Native Americans and Europeans settling in the New World. A clear message through these captivity narratives is that European American culture was superior to Native American culture. In 1682 the first Native American Captivity Narrative was written by Mary Rowlandson titled “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration.” Some years earlier, John Smith related his experience of being captured in his personal account of the settlement of Jamestown. Their contributions ultimately made a great historical impact on Native American Literature. The captivity narratives authored by Mary Rowlandson and John Smith portrayed the Native Americans as devilish creatures that were simply evil, but the stories also reveal that the natives were frightened of white people and at times treated them with benevolence.
In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s reexamines the American historical record and moves it passed the typical narratives of colonialism, revolution, and American exceptionalism. Dunbar-Ortiz’s analysis will impact the field of Native Studies and even general United States history with its examination and focus on settler colonialism as a genocidal policy. It is, as Dunbar-Ortiz argues, impossible to write American history without the acknowledgment of Indigenous peoples. Dunbar-Ortiz shatters the myth of “free land” and conquered Natives. She instead focuses on “the absence of a colonial framework (7),” which she believes is the reason that most historians overlook Indigenous history. In other words, historians need to view colonization as an ongoing process and not a
In a lively account filled that is with personal accounts and the voices of people that were in the past left out of the historical armament, Ronald Takaki proffers us a new perspective of America’s envisioned past. Mr. Takaki confronts and disputes the Anglo-centric historical point of view. This dispute and confrontation is started in the within the seventeenth-century arrival of the colonists from England as witnessed by the Powhatan Indians of Virginia and the Wamapanoag Indians from the Massachusetts area. From there, Mr. Takaki turns our attention to several different cultures and how they had been affected by North America. The English colonists had brought the African people with force to the Atlantic coasts of America. The Irish women that sought to facilitate their need to work in factory settings and maids for our towns. The Chinese who migrated with ideas of a golden mountain and the Japanese who came and labored in the cane fields of Hawaii and on the farms of California. The Jewish people that fled from shtetls of Russia and created new urban communities here. The Latinos who crossed the border had come in search of the mythic and fabulous life El Norte.
American Indians shaped their critique of modern America through their exposure to and experience with “civilized,” non-Indian American people. Because these Euro-Americans considered traditional Indian lifestyle savage, they sought to assimilate the Indians into their civilized culture. With the increase in industrialization, transportation systems, and the desire for valuable resources (such as coal, gold, etc.) on Indian-occupied land, modern Americans had an excuse for “the advancement of the human race” (9). Euro-Americans moved Indians onto reservations, controlled their education and practice of religion, depleted their land, and erased many of their freedoms. The national result of this “conquest of Indian communities” was a steady decrease of Indian populations and drastic increase in non-Indian populations during the nineteenth century (9). It is natural that many American Indians felt fearful that their culture and people were slowly vanishing. Modern America to American Indians meant the destruction of their cultural pride and demise of their way of life.
“The biggest of all Indian problems is the Whiteman (Basso pg. 3).” The elusive Whitman is not a recent problem for the American Indians. For the Western Apache this problem first came to light in 1853 after the Gadsden Purchase was finalized. The Whitemen invaded the western Apache’s Arizona territory not with peace, but with demands and open hostility. Thus began a brutal thirty year war that led to Apache defeat (Basso pg. 24). The creation of reservations in 1872 was not enough for the Whitemen. They also created an assimilation program for the Western Apache because acclimating one’s self to Anglo American society was a necessity for survival.
Poetry is a universe of subjectivity. When two poems are set up, side-by-side, to create discussion, results may vary. But it is clear in Sherman Alexie’s two poems, “Defending Walt Whitman” and “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel”, where the discussion must go. Alexie explores Native American culture and the effect that the Europeans have had on the native people of the United States. This feat is accomplished through the thoughtful use of several literary devices, including tone, simile, allusion, and metaphor.
All in all, the treatment of the American Indian during the expansion westward was cruel and harsh. Thus, A Century of Dishonor conveys the truth about the frontier more so than the frontier thesis. Additionally, the common beliefs about the old west are founded in lies and deception. The despair that comes with knowing that people will continue to believe in these false ideas is epitomized by Terrell’s statement, “Perhaps nothing will ever penetrate the haze of puerile romance with which writers unfaithful to their profession and to themselves have surrounded the westerner who made a living in the saddle” (Terrell 182).
The article, “Native Reactions to the invasion of America”, is written by a well-known historian, James Axtell to inform the readers about the tragedy that took place in the Native American history. All through the article, Axtell summarizes the life of the Native Americans after Columbus acquainted America to the world. Axtell launches his essay by pointing out how Christopher Columbus’s image changed in the eyes of the public over the past century. In 1892, Columbus’s work and admirations overshadowed the tears and sorrows of the Native Americans. However, in 1992, Columbus’s undeserved limelight shifted to the Native Americans when the society rediscovered the history’s unheard voices and became much more evident about the horrific tragedy of the Natives Indians.
Similarly, in 1851, the Indians relinquished one more tremendous territory in exchange with an annual payment, furnished schools, and other promises, yet the government, again, did not keep its word (86). The simple lifestyle and humanitarian creed of the indigenous taught them to trust other fellow humans, regardless of color, religion and ethnicity. Therefore, when the Americans told them that they would pay ten cents per acre, or they would bring civilization to the savage Indians, the indigenous immediately agreed. However, this betrayal resulted in distrust and aversion toward the ‘white man,’ which, consequently, led to many wars, such as the “Minnesota massacre,” whose casualties were mostly Indians, and those who survived, including the author, were exiled.
In Thomas King’s novel, The Inconvenient Indian, the story of North America’s history is discussed from his original viewpoint and perspective. In his first chapter, “Forgetting Columbus,” he voices his opinion about how he feel towards the way white people have told America’s history and portraying it as an adventurous tale of triumph, strength and freedom. King hunts down the evidence needed to reveal more facts on the controversial relationship between the whites and natives and how it has affected the culture of Americans. Mainly untangling the confusion between the idea of Native Americans being savages and whites constantly reigning in glory. He exposes the truth about how Native Americans were treated and how their actual stories were
Whether this short story was an attempt to describe childhood experiences or the persecution of the Native Americans, Hemingway wrote a riveting short encounter that captivates the readers’ minds and highlights the injustices inflicted on a Native American culture. It is clear through the story that colonized cultures often encounter a loss of identity, and adopt a different one that is bestowed on them from the dominant or parent colonizer. The oppressed have to deal with demeaning and difficult situations, but by educating readers and characterizing the wrongs, Hemingway opts for changes in the future. Hemingway paved the way for social change of Native Americans in a time that was lacking it.