Defining History Essay

574 Words 3 Pages
In the document, "Indians: Textualism, Morality, and The Problem of History," Jane Tompkins examines the conflicts between the English settlers and the American Indians. After examining several primary sources, Tompkins found that different history books have different perspectives. It wasn’t that the history books took different angles that was troubling, but the viewpoints contradicted one another. People who experience the same event told it through their reality. This becomes a problem when a person who didn’t experience the effect wants to know what happened. Tompkins said, "The problem id that if all accounts of events are determined through and through by the observer’s frame of reference, that one will never know, …show more content…
Tompkins claims this to be irrelevant, saying his viewpoint was biased. Moving on to another contradictory perspective, Tompkins examines the perspective of Francis Jenning’s The Invasion of America written in the late sixties. Jennings saw the European settlers to brutal animals,
"the early settlers lied to the Indians, stole form them, murdered them, scalped them, captured them, tortured them, raped them, soled the into slavery, confiscated their land, destroyed their crops, burned their homes, scattered their possessions, gave them alcohol, undermined their systems of belief, and infected them with diseases that wiped out ninety percent of their numbers within the first hundred years after contact." (206)
Examining further Tompkins saw another change of perspectives in the seventies, caused by the American Indian Movement. Calvin Martin, author of Keepers of the Game saw the European settlement as an invasion of the Indian’s spiritual relationship with the animals. Because of fur trade with the Europeans, the Indian’s discontinued their spiritual ritual of worshipping the animal’s carcass. When disease started spreading among the Indians, brought over by the Europeans, they thought it was because the spirits were angry with them. Martin refers to this time as a "holy war." The pattern of contradictions continued with a series of essays called Indians, Animals, and the Fur Trade by Charles Hudson
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