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Dilemmas Of American Indian Studies Essay

2429 words - 10 pages

As the subjugation of the American Indian population began, the driving need to collect information emerged as did the quandaries that people who study this field struggle with today. To understand why problems transpire in this field of study, it is imperative that scholars know why should this field be studied. This reason is as simple or as complex as anyone wishes to make it. The program is to “present information and interpretations that otherwise would be overlooked.” The challenge that emerges from this rather simplistic meaning spans time and the globe in its debates and encompasses scholars of Native American and non- Indian ancestry. The purpose of this paper is not to tell about the history of why Native American Studies ought to be taught but to describe problems and solutions that it faces in its execution in the discipline both in the academic and in fieldwork.
In the initiation of American Indian Studies, the problem of bias on the subject and the people became apparent. Although this is not a new trend in the art of studying history but history is written by the victories, thus creating a chasm for information to fall into obscurity. There is an abundant amount evidence of the way bias can be observed in Indian Studies from minuscule to massive. In writing and researching Native Americans, the Indian and non-Indian should be careful with the use of language. The saying is true that one word can change the meaning and impact of an entire text. When the American West was opened up to the white settler and the American Indians were placed on reservations, historians, archeologists, and others entered the area and put together the history that they constructed. The oral reports of what had occurred were taken from the American Indians then transcribed into the white perspective. An example would be after the Sioux Indians were placed on reservations like Pine Ridge and Rosebud, historians went in to collect information and what had happened to Brevet Bridger Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. They gathered information but in the writing, they constructed a view that the Sioux and other Northern Plains Indian Tribes were vicious “savages.” This is a classic example of bias in many forms. The white collectors went into these reservations with the single thought in mind, to paint the Northern Indians as people of uncivilized cruelty. These collectors of information used derogatory terms in which to characterize and label Native Americans. The use of “savage, red skin, the Indian plight, and other pejorative names of inappropriate prose that demean[ed] Indian people.” Although scholars would think that these type of events happened only when American Indian Studies began, this would be false, it is still occurring today. When an archeologist, historian, sociologists enter into a town to study Indian people or when researching from a written source they run into the...

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