Textbooks Tell Lies
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10257) 16 years ago
"Textbooks Tell Lies, Teachers Told At UM"
By Jodi Rave (Missoulian)
BILLINGS GAZETTE
June 22, 2006
http://www.billingsgazett...tbooks.txt
"MISSOULA -- James Loewen believes he's the only man who has intensively read 12 high school textbooks on history. He calls it a "near-death experience."

That's because the books, he said, exclude scholarly research and borrow misinformation from older textbooks written during the nadir of racism 1890 to 1940 in the United States. Ultimately, students are taught myths, such as that American Indians sold Manhattan Island for $24.

Loewen, author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me," was a featured speaker this week at the Indian Education for All Institute at the University of Montana. More than 800,000 copies of his book have been sold, but when it was first published more than a decade ago, some teachers complained about the title. . . ."

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They're often boring as well
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Posted by Stone (+1598) 16 years ago
Hal I read " The lies my teacher told me" good book.
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10257) 16 years ago
Brady,

Yes, it's an interesting read. And personally, I think it's good to see some of those old myths (that were/are taught as fact) set straight.

I guess all cultures and societies need myths / legends, and sometimes they serve well as morality lessons (or something like that).

But, I think it's important not to let lines get blurred between fact and fiction. And IF it's presented well and taught well, history is interesting enough that it doesn't need to be "spiced" up with fiction.

But it's that "IF" that is too often the problem and is the reason why so many people come out of high school and college history classes thinking that history is pretty darned lame and boring.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18254) 16 years ago
So how much did the indians sell Manhattan island for?
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6121) 16 years ago
Hal - Right on. It's funny (and frightening, sometimes) to realize just how many books (textbooks or otherwise) have been taken as fact or actual history (or "Truth"). I'm all for having myths/legends debunked - even sacred cows - in the favor of accuracy and truth.

[This message has been edited by Brian A. Reed (edited 6/23/2006).]
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10257) 16 years ago
>> So how much did the indians sell Manhattan island for?


Probably nothing close to what it would cost Ol' Pete Minuit if he tried to buy it today

I read one source that estimated the Dutch paid the equivalent (in 1990 US dollars) of a half-cent per acre for Manhattan Island (of course the Tribe they paid the money to didn't actually live on - or have any claim - to the island). The average tax value assessed an acre of land on the island in 1990 was around $900,000. I'm no math whiz, but that looks like an increase of around 15-20 billion percent.


I see that today, apartments in mid-town high rises sell for around 1,000 per square foot (43560 sq ft per acre).. So I'm not certain how you compute the actual value of an acre of land in Manhattan if you can sell 50 (or however many) floors of apartments piled up on that square footage.

Here's what Loewen estimates it went for 1626:
http://www.uvm.edu/~jloew...hp?slide=9
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Oops.

Guess I got carried away thinking of much a square of foot of land in Manhattan is worth today and forgot what this particular myth is based upon and why it needs to be re-examined.

It's not a question of how much was paid by the Dutch for Manhattan Island. It's a matter of who received payment and why (Loewen briefly explains that in the link listed above). The it becomes a matter of how and why this and other such myths helped to shape Indian policy from the 1600s up to (and including) the present.

The late Vine Deloria Jr., wrote some great books that deal with these and other elements of Indian policy, not the least of which is:

Deloria Jr., Vine. BEHIND THE TRAIL OF BROKEN TREATIES: AN INDIAN DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE (1974).

Others of Deloria works are listed here:
http://www.ipl.org/div/n...wse.pl/A31

An interesting read (and an easier read than Deloria) that also helps to debunk some of the myths surround Native Americans is:

Jack Weatherford, INDIAN GIVERS: HOW THE INDIANS OF THE AMERICAS TRANSFORMED THE WORLD (1989).



[This message has been edited by Hal Neumann (edited 6/23/2006).]
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+12379) 16 years ago
The same fellow who wrote "Lies Your Teacher Told You" wrote another book on "misinformation" on historical markers throughout the country. It's HILARIOUS. Aggravating as all get out but funny, too. I particularly enjoy the section on all the statues of famous generals mounted on their stallions. Turns out (not a big surprise in horse country) that most of the generals rode geldings or mares. One fellow was famous for his mare (I'm not feeling well or I'd have more luck at remembering who it was). His FAMILY had fits when they saw the statue of the soldier on his mare and demanded boy bits be added. They were, so that the descendants of the guy who rode a mare won't be upset.

Weird.

Amorette
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6121) 16 years ago
If anyone wants a really good laugh, read "Areas of My Expertise" by John Hodgman. It's full of facts, all of which are fake. It's one of the funniest books I've ever read.
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Posted by Jeremy Orthman (+436) 16 years ago
Ammorette,


Now that sucks! I wonder how many of these things I've read that are crap.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+12379) 16 years ago
The book mostly deals with stuff on the east coast so I don't know how far off our markers in Montana are. I do know there is one goofy marker in Idaho that commemorates the victims of an Indian massacre that is complete fiction. I don't know how the marker got put up in the first place but it's total bunk.

It's why I try to back track to original sources for stuff like Ted Kennedy's ride, because our memories aren't very accurate.

Amorette
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10257) 16 years ago
As Amorette points out, it's best to look to the original source material whenever possible.

And I'd add . . . if you can't get at the original sources, then at least double check your facts and put your critical thinking skill to some use. No one is ever going to be 100% correct 100% of the time. But double checking and thinking can make a difference. Especially if you're claiming to be an expert - `cause even the expert myth debunkers sometimes don't get things quite right.

In his book LIES ACROSS AMERICA: WHAT OUR HISTORIC SITES GET WRONG, Loewen reports the following:

"A memorial fountain in Helena, Montana, is "A loving tribute to our Confederate Soldiers," but Montana never HAD any Confederate Soldiers -- in fact, Montana never had any UNION soldiers either, being still Indian country in 1861, as Gen. Custer found out to his sorrow in 1876."
http://www.uvm.edu/~jloew...merica.php



It seems to me that Loewen's research into this particular topic was pretty darned superficial and because of that his conclusion was pretty darned flawed. Sometimes even the 'experts' don't take the extra time to get things right.

Maybe we should put together a book busting the myths and fallacies perpetuated by those who make their living debunking myths and fallacies . . . Lies about the Lies My Teacher Taught Me

. . .
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Posted by Jeremy Orthman (+436) 16 years ago
Ammorette,

Well, I'm on the east coast now and recently showed my dad around some of the old Civil War battle sites. Now I wonder how accurate some of these things were.
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Posted by deer_slayer (+488) 16 years ago
There's a bunch of Assiniboines with the last names "Jackson" and "Four Star" on the Ft. Peck Indian Reservation who would argue that the Confederates never came to Montana.
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Posted by deer_slayer (+488) 16 years ago
There's a bunch of Assiniboines with the last names "Jackson" and "Four Star" on the Ft. Peck Indian Reservation who would argue that the Confederates never came to Montana.
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