Today in class several things were discussed that have been on my mind. By my nature, I am a skeptic and I usually don’t believe, or rather, fully accept anything told to me in an academic setting (or any setting for that matter) unless either I have done the research or if something is logically valid and sound. Whichever course of action I come to to accept or not accept a statement, I always start with asking questions instead of out right saying “it’s” wrong given whatever “it” may be. For most of my post secondary education I have been trained as a historian and asking questions, even if towards things that are considered facts, is not something to shy from even if one fears of seeming “confrontational.” By no means is asking questions and being skeptical a soul indicator of being confrontational, it is just good measure for anyone seeking the truth. I will continue on with saying by in no way am I trying to be confrontational Professor in questioning what you say, researching or rebutting you. I am merely a skeptic and just want to know the truth.
Andrew Jackson never said, “The only good Indian is a dead one,” nor was this exact statement ever spoken by the man who is credited with first saying it. Philip Sheridan (1831-88), a general in the US Army stated, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” This quote was then misquoted into what we know it as today. All of this does not mean that Andrew Jackson was not responsible for the removal and subsequent killings of thousands of Native Americans. He was the President of the United States and he did not adequately serve or protect these innocent people. I will say this though, it is in my opinion, that Andrew Jackson did not inherently dislike the Native American people nor did he want to wipe these peoples of the face of the earth. In 2010 I took a 400 level course on Early American History, Jefferson Jacksonian Era (1800-1840), and like any good historian I read many primary documents. From my research, Jackson made his final decision on the Indian Removal Act based on his desire to preserve the native people from destruction and prevent them from “disappearing” as had happened in the North East. At the time it was the lesser of two evils and Jackson chose it. To quote Last of the Dogmen (1995), “What happened was inevitable. The way it happened was unconscionable.” Also, Jackson did adopt a Creek Indian boy, Lyncoya.
As for my views on the comments made on Columbus’s role in the decimation of the Arawak, I would like to first say I am not a Columbian expert nor have I done extensive research in that area. What I do know is that most accounts that accuse Columbus of wrongdoing are third handed ones and also that Columbus was a horrible leader. It is well documented that he could not control his men and thus they harassed the Native peoples, which then lead to the escalating and destructive turn of events. Indeed Zinn, Loewen and Chomsky interpret these actions in a more critical perspective towards Columbus but what must be understood when reading them is their own biases and how these biases shaped their writing. (Just as mine does as well.) Nothing in history is purely objectionable, no matter how well known the writer of it is.
I’d like to end this journal with a comment about what was said at the end of class in regard to what people can and cannot sense. Indeed, if we don’t sense something that does not mean it does not exist, but it is not irrefutable fact that is does exist as well.