HIS 101 Why the west is lost Qs .docx - Why the west is...

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Why the west is lost James Hijiya The West is misinterpreted when it is not simply ignored. Richard White, In textbooks the nation is metonymically reduced to two regions: the Northeast and Midwest 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 o 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 “Spanish Sea” 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. o 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 o 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: o The new history is Anglocentric like the old
o There was no claim for Western, Native American, or Hispanic history, none of which received a separate essay in The New American History. Barry O'Connell notes that "everywhere, in films and music, in novels and school textbooks," we are presented with American history as "the progress of settlement and civilization westward across an empty continent."23 "Mistaking regional history for national history," agrees David J. Weber This raises the essential question: why is it the only version? Why can't text-book writers imagine another version? Since prominent historians from Bolton to Bannon to Billington to Brandon to Berkhofer have spent most of this cen-tury calling for more attention to the West and its peoples, why haven't writers of general histories of the United States listened?27W hy do we not have an American history that treats the West not as someplace on the edge of history but as

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