Richter's Facing East Essay

Richter's Facing East Essay

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In order to feel we are creating a complete picture of history when we conduct research, historians must rely on any primary documents they can find to piece together the puzzle of a person’s life or the events surrounding a person or point in time. As I read Facing East, Richter provided constant reminders that Early American history is constructed from only one perspective – from those who possess the power of the pen. There may be artifacts that survive from the various indigenous cultures of North America dating back before non-native people arrived, but those artifacts cannot tell us a complete story of the lives of the people who used these objects, because they left no written history; no primary documents. It solidifies the point Richter wants us to think about in regards to who is writing history, and the fact that the group of people who dominate or command language and technology at the time will dictate how generations will perceive the way in which events occurred.

Early American History is not necessarily in my comfort zone in regards to the amount of knowledge I can share off the top of my head. Facing East was the best book for me to start with, I feel, because it affected my ideas about the ways in which Historians have written about conflict between Native Americans and European settlers. The only perspective I have ever read has been a westward-facing perspective. I was almost ashamed at how surprised I was that I had not considered the fact that conflict and distrust existed in North America long before non-natives arrived, rather than what I believe is often portrayed as this harmonious network of Native American tribes who slowly succumbed to encroachment by settlers. The rivalries and wars that exi...


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...te races in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century? I think it is problematic to argue certain choices or events are inevitable in history. We have the unfair advantage of looking at things in a much larger scope than people may have at the time, because we can see the consequences of the actions with the help of hindsight. But I think that we, as Historians, do future readers a disservice to create logical fallacies that a + b automatically equals c because certain events happen.

Overall, Facing East was an original work that gave me a fresh perspective of how the history of a nation has been taught, and how we may look at what may have been the perspective of a people who could not leave enough evidence to argue their case for fighting to the death for something they felt so passionately about – land, their families, and their heritage.


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