Indians in the American History, an Introduction (Book Review)

Introduction:

The world’s super power, America; which caters towards having the responsibility of providing the correct fundamental human rights to all the individuals of the world, pointing that it is the foremost duty of all democratic governments of the world to make sure that no individual is unjustly treated and that his property and life is respected and safeguarded; and if a government is unable to do so, then it claims its veto power of overtaking such chaotic countries provision, and governance into its own hands - Indians in the American History, an Introduction (Book Review) introduction. Thus the super power executes its duty towards the humanity. However what nobody actually does question or look into, is over the question of how this super power actually came into being itself initially?  Did God create this world with America already being the world leader, or does its soil too has the scent of the blood of great sacrifices, martyrs, and injustice? If the humanity’s greatest fight in the world was over conquering and expanding their land, then hasn’t America ever fought such war? And who has suffered and who got justice; the natives or the invaders? The book “Indians in American History, an Introduction” boldly provides the answers to all these questions and reveals the truth of how the real Indian Natives were cornered from their own homeland and bravely survived the brutality from the hands of the invaders.

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Book Review:

The second edition of the book “Indians in American History, an Introduction;” was first published in March 1998 by Harlan Davidson Publishers, edited by Frederick E. Hoxie and Peter Iverson; it is a historical guide which speaks the language of the Indian Americans. It is not a usual conventional history textbook which would be taught up in any social studies class in America, as it is one of those rare pieces which talks out rightly of the situation and the pain that the Native Indian Americans had to face within their own homeland. It tells the story from a multi perspective view point of how the Indians were driven out, their culture curtailed to smaller regions and then wiped off and how the region changed in the most exasperated way.

Indians in American history, an introduction, is a book which takes us through the journey of time into the lives of the Indians via the stories told by fourteen different writers in a chronological order, in the form of brief essays. The book contains abstracts and creative pieces of work from much renounced authors who share their perspective of history and how they felt towards the changing lives of the Indians. The textbook paces from the familiar topics of the arrival of Columbus, the Revolution, the building of the Constitution and the Indians in the Twentieth Century; but the material would probably be new to most of the readers as it comes from a totally native point of view. Thus the book other than being just an ordinary history book is also a collection of motivating narratives providing an overview of the Eurocentric historical debate, hardly proven through the opposing side

The American Indians or the Indigenous or the Aboriginal and even the Red Indians, are of the few various names given to these natives, who initially inhabited the land of America. The book starts off with three essays which talk about the heritage of the Indians and their lives in the Pre Columbian period.  It emphasizes on the fact that existence of humans on the grounds of America can be traced back to as far as 5000 BC, when they lived as the “hunter gatherers,” in a region which was run in a highly conventional method by them, with absolute freedom, native practices and minimal laws and regulations. These were the Native Indians, inhabitants of this land; when in 1492 their lives were to be changed by the arrival of this Eurasian ship lead by Columbus; bringing an end to their claim of being the sole owners of their native land. The colonization of the Europeans in America can be regarded as one of the biggest conflicts that the world has ever witnessed. It was the clash between the Old and the New Worlds who were distant from each other in every aspect, their ideologies, religious practices, cultures, everything clashed; and thus the men who came with the guns and the righteousness of the Christian cause, disseminated them with the new world’s diseases, its technology and customs; bringing about one of the biggest and most influential exchange of cultures. This Eurocentric event of 1492 was certainly the defining moment of the American history, thus the life of the Indians before the arrival of the intruders is termed as Pre-Colombian.

The book then further talks about the arrival of the Spanish and the colonization brought by them with the continued invasion of new Europeans such as  Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528 and Hernando de Soto in 1539; they bring in merchandizes of perfumes, leather goods, and food such as meat, fish and fresh fruit; while the most enchanting thing to the Indians were the horses which they readily accepted within their culture and in return they humbly asked for metals, while theses foreigners who still were in the minority slowly started taking up ruling actions and minor conflicts started to emerge. The first real English establishment was found by the name of Jamestown, which was meet by little resistance by the Indians but was easily worn away, and by the middle of the 1600s there were more than 1000 Europeans already settled in. Luck seemed to be following the English even across the oceans as severe epidemics of small pox, chicken pox and measles spread between the Indians as they had no immunity towards these new diseases brought to them, about 80% of the Indian population died within weeks of the contact as reported by the statistics of The National Institute of Health in 2003; and by the end of the century there were about 40,000 Englishmen with rapidly decreasing number of the Native Indians.

The last of the major upheavals in which the Indians succeeded was the King Philip’s War in 1676, after which slowly the land was being taken over, the Spanish, the French, and the Dutch spreading over the land with the idea of settling in. And then there was a constant period of war between different colonies of the Indians and the Europeans; there were some who agreed to sign up for peace treaties to accept the New United States Government in 1778 such as the Lenape, but other communities were in constant war with many gruesome skirmishes and wars occurring killing thousands around, villages burnt down and food supplies were curtailed in order to hamper the fighting abilities of the natives; while the largest was the Suvillian Expedition in 1779; which however left the Indians more detrimental to fight for their homeland. The British settled up on making peace treaties with the Americans through buying their land and even restricting some colonies to specific areas in order to minimize masquerades.

While in the late 19th century the Government adopted a new policy of wiping off the Indian culture, which for them was the easiest way to clear the Indian’s idea of saving their homeland, and they started this off through educating the young of the natives, teaching Christianity, denying them the right of practicing their original religions and forbidding the speaking of the native languages. This process which they described as the act of civilization was given the name of ‘acculturation’ which meant the adoption by one group of the customs of another.

By the coming of the twentieth century large Indian occupied areas were living impoverished, with their numbers greatly reduced. No matter later many pacts were signed up in returning the Indians their land but they still remained to be cornered and living as the most deprived nation in one of the world’s richest countries.

Conclusion:

In conclusion this book provides a motivating journey through the Indian history, its essays such as ‘How the west was lost’ and ‘The struggle for Indian civil rights’ show the ordeal of the natives and exhibit the complexity of the history of the cultures of how a single invasion could bring about a change in the lives of its nations; altering their very identities.

References

Frederick E. Hoxie and Peter Iverson (1998) `Indians in American History, an Introduction, 2nd Edition Harlan Davidson Inc. (US).

Frederick E. Hoxie, Ronald Hoffman, and Peter J. (1999) Albert Native Americans and the Early Republic. Journal of Southern History. (Article Written by O’BRIEN, GREG (2001))

 Mark, M.S. (2008) Getting in Touch with Slavery and Freedom. The Journal of American History. Volume 95, No2.

 

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