History is conveyed in many different ways. One of those ways is through textbooks. Textbooks organize and chronologically arrange the history of many different cultures. An assumption of textbooks is that the information that is being read is straight facts and contains evidence of the information that has been predetermined of a culture. What people don't know is that textbooks are just the authors' interpretations reflecting on what they have come in encounter with a certain topic in their own personal lives. An example of this is the way Indians are portrayed in several textbooks involving the discovery of America.
One view of Indians was by David S. Muzzey, "History of the American People (1972)." His view of Indians is very prejudice and racist due to his own personal feelings dealing with and towards Indians. For example, in the text Indians are also known as, "copper-colored barbarians or savages." He called them copper-colored barbarians because of their difference in skin color. Indians were tanner in color compared to the whiteness of Americans. Savages was also another name given to the Indians by David S. Muzzey due to the fact that compared to the Europeans they were uncivilized and barbarous in American eyes.
Also due to the Indians environment they were plagued with diseases and beasts in which they were powerless against. "Nowhere had they risen above the stage of barbarism," according to this statement by the author the Indians were unable to conquest their environment. Another point of view of Indians was illustrated by Thomas A. Bailey, "The American Pageant (1966)." The Indians were dying off because of their environment and the natural resources it contains. For example, "which was so sparsely peopled by Indians that they could be eliminated or pushed aside," there was no apathy towards the Indians and their way of life. Spain at the time was dominating and exploring the colonies wiping out and using millions of Indians.
In 1574, Thomas A. Bailey figured 5, 000, 000 Indians were placed into slavery as he stated in his factorial. Indians were removed from their natural environments and forced to do things for the English. The Indians in Bailey's point of view were treated like nothings that meant absolutely nothing to anybody. Their way of life was being disrupted in English's greedy search for gold.
It mattered nothing to nobody when they were continually getting killed as in the text where it states, "The English settlers, disagreeable though the thought may be, were more successful than the Spaniards in killing off the Indians... ." Although the English wanted to turn the Indians into Christians their main reason for exploring the lands was gold. They didn't care about the Indians and for this reason Thomas A. Bailey was able to sympathize the Indians based on the facts he predetermined. In 1492 cultural diversity was becoming a big part of the American way of life. "The Brief American Pageant (2000)," by David M.
Kennedy, Liza beth Cohen, Thomas A. Bailey, and Mel Piel showed how just by giving the Indians a chance and not judging them, the benefits they could have on society. For example, the authors's tate, "Over the centuries they split into numerous tribes, evolved more than two thousand separate languages, and developed many diverse religions, cultures and way of life," Indians were now getting the opportunity to expand in society. The main crop being grown by the Indians fed millions of people around the world. The Indians resources were being used for positive things. Native Americans were portrayed to be gentle and caring as well.
As it is stated in the excerpt, "Unlike the Europeans, who would soon arrive with the presumption that humans had dominion over the earth and with technologies to alter the very face of the land, Native Americans had neither the desire nor the means to do wed nature with spiritual properties." Native Americans were also labeled properly, "Native Americans," compared to the slang version, "Indians." Indians were also portrayed as hero's, like when Pocahontas saved John Rolfe from death. History is rarely objective and although the textbooks are thought of to be telling the truth, they are really reflecting history's prejudice. As the time changes as do the different views that generation carries. Textbooks are written at many different times and because of the changing time historians' views on Native Americans changes. Information placed in a book or on paper is not at times always how it is and that is where "firsthand" information comes in. What this means is that not only do historians have their opinion on a subject they should have others as well.
They always say two heads are better than one. The most important source in a textbook is the primary source. Finally then the truth comes out in writing because the author is able to see the past in the perspective of those that lived in it.