Validity Of History. Essay

1099 words - 4 pages

Jane Tompkins, author of "'Indians': Textualism, Morality, and Problem of History," questions the validity of every history book and most facts that have been written. She first writes her perspective as a small child and her own young understanding of American Indians. She imagines herself as an Indian playing in the caves that is the pleasurable perspective of an Indian. When her parents took her to meet real Indians, it "was always a disappointment" ( 718) for her. She would see them for who they were: real Indians in full headdress were not fun. Perhaps this perspective would be different if the Indians were excited to see her, as she was to see them, perhaps not. After Tompkins starts researching the relationship between the Indians and the Europeans she reached an "impasse". The difficulty she faced in finding the truth about what happened to the Indians at the hands of the Europeans questions the value of what society has been assuming is the truth. In almost every history book she read different interpretations which have the same story and what were found were not only different, but completely opposite recordings of history. "In simpler language, it concerns the difference that point of view makes when people are giving accounts of events, whether at first or second hand. The problem is that if all accounts of events are determined through and through by the observer's frame of reference, then one will never know, in any given case, what really happened" ( 719). Thinking critically about this can lead to the questioning of every thing ever written about history, and to the question of which research to believe and why. After researching the facts of the relationship between the Indians and the Europeans, those facts, although it seems to be true, has unfairness attached with it.Tompkins, who was encouraged to conduct this research because she was teaching a lecture about the subject for college students, could have easily followed the standard of today's lecturers and restated the first thing she read about the Indians and Europeans' relationship. That is the way our educational system works for many of the students today. Students hear what teachers want them to hear, and many teachers validate what they are teaching because they read it in some book claiming to be the truth. The truth is that history might not ever have an accurate description of what happened hundreds of years ago. People might think they do, but proof of this is almost impossible to come by. Even the most authentic source, such as Tompkins example of the writings of, Heard, a girl taken prisoner by the Indians, can be biased. "Upon reaching the village, the child might face such ordeals as running the gauntlet or dancing in the center of a throng of threatening Indians" (727). The writings taken from the prisoner girl seemingly must be true because the girl was actually there, but the perspective she was taking tainted her truths.Tompkins also illustrates the...

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