Validity of History.

Essay by lolitalooly July 2003

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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...