Summary of “‘Indians’: Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History”

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Summary of "'Indians': Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History"

In the essay "'Indians': Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History" written by Jane Tompkins, an English professor at Duke University, the author criticized the history writers and described the issue of problems that are often created by different perspectives from the history on the topic, European -Indian relation, that cannot be determined from right or wrong. Many problems contain one main fact behind it. However, people have different perspectives of that particular fact, and those perspectives are not always the same. These differences have created textualism problems for the later generations, which make it very difficult for us to learn about history. Throughout this essay, Tompkins main goal is to send a message to history writers that if they can't formulate the problems of history with their moral decisions, they will never be able to resolve those moral problems. As a matter of fact, those same moral problems will be repeated in the future. Therefore, the study of history will be worthless. As a student loving to learn about history, by reading Tompkins' essay I feel like students are being misinterpreted about their country's history due to the biases of historians writing history themselves. In my opinion, if historians cannot see the facts behind history, how can later generation students find out those facts and make an ethical judgment about our history itself.

As a kid, Tompkins learned from school about the facts about Indians who made her feel like they were inferiors to her because of their ignorance of the value in the Manhattan Island they sold to Peter Minuit. In order to be like them, she wanted to pursue an "exciting, romantic life in the forest" (Tompkins 102). She was proud to be living on a land that these adventurous native people used to live. When Tompkins decided to do a research about the relationship between Indians and the European settlers,...
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