Why the west is lost
The West is misinterpreted when it is not simply ignored.
Richard White, In textbooks the nation is metonymically reduced to two regions: the Northeast
The far west and other regions then are seen as quaint and backward deviants from the norm.
Patricia Nelson Limerick complains that textbooks do not see the West as an integral and
formative element in American history.
American history textbooks leave out much of America.
1960s and 1970s historians produced articles and monographs that reflected a new awareness of
the West and the people who inhabited it.
Ray Allen Billington, seconding John Francis Bannon tried to make historians see beyond the
Anglo-American migration from the East and recognize the Spanish stream from the South.
Philip Wayne Powell tried to make Americans see through propaganda, overcome prejudices, and
chop down the tree of hate between the Anglo and Hispanics
William Brandon urged historians to consider the possibility that he Indian world may really
have been a genuine influential civilization
Many Indians lived in the West
1970s and 1980s – plenty of monographs came out presenting Indian and Spanish points of view
Textbooks and courses remained the same.
1985 Robert S. Weddle was still calling for “a long-overdue reassessment” that would identify a
“new starting place for the study of United States history,” namely, the Gulf of Mexico, the
James Axtell studied the first chapters of sixteen U.S history textbooks and discovered that the
Indians, Spanish, and French were consistently misunderstood, traduced, or forgotten.
After 5 years textbooks still remained the same.
From 13 college textbooks: 89 percent of the text was apportioned to Anglo-dominated societies,
compared to 6 percent to Indians, 4 percent to Spanish or Mexicans and 1 percent to French
No discussion of their civilization – their governments, economics, technologies,
ideas, arts, everyday lives. Only narrative of their fights against the Anglos
The New American History:
The new history is Anglocentric like the old