12 Jun 2022


A People's History of the United States

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Assignment

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Section A: Reflection on Morgan and the Reservations 

Prior to watching the episode Morgan Spurlock and the Navajo Indian Reservation, my opinion about the Indians mirrored that of Morgan as it was made up of a combination of ignorance and misinformation. In some quarters, it is believed that Indians are lucky to live in reservations as they get a lot of free money from the government, non-stringent laws and income from Casinos. The picture presented by the episode was quite different and showed Indians living in reservations where poverty reigned supreme. Housing is of very poor quality with shared crumpled space. Unemployment is very high and basic amenities such as piped water is inexistent. According to Morgan’s narrative, he is moved by the plight of the Navajo Indians who live in appalling conditions. He is, however, also greatly impressed by their industry and pride as they seek to hold on to their dying culture and dying language. The teacher, the old grandma, and the traditional healer make a huge impact on Morgan. He gets emotional as he bids farewell or the old grandma and also feels the connection with nature and humanity as he participates in a traditional ritual. The reserve both taught and changed Morgan. 

Section B: Historiography 

According to Michael Paul Rogin, history has gone out of its way to sanitize and justify what the white people did to the Indians during the frontier years. It has been argued and said that the Indian needed to be civilized and only the whites could civilize them. Better still, it has been argued by segments of history, according to Rogin, that Indians were facing extinction and the civilized US government needed to save them from the same. All these perspectives seek to present the US government and the frontiersmen a benign people caring for the needy Indians. However, Rogin indicates that America was growing too small for the settlers, they needed room to expand and got rid of Indians to find this room. Any history that justifies this conduct is condemned by Rogin as hypocrisy. 

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Robert Remini in his article addresses himself to the how of what happened during the Indian removal. He argues that President Jackson sold his honor so as to achieve a desperately needed end. Chicanery, fraud, and highway robbery are adjectives used by Remini to define the acts of Jackson and his team. Jackson treated Indians with false respected and tried to convince them that remaining in the land that they were in would only lead to their extinction. He then prepared the Treaty of New Echota which was just another version of the draft treaty that the Indians had refused to sign. Less than a hundred people were involved in passing it, the majority of whom voted in favor of the ‘new’ treat. This makes Remini argue that the entire process was flawed, illegal, dishonorable and criminal, thus making hypocrites of any historian who would even remotely try and argue the contrary. 

Section C: Reflection on Resident Jackson 

As they moved westward, they began to die-of sickness, of drought, of the heat, of exposure .” This statement defines the trail of tears that took place when President Jackson elected to eject the Cherokee from their land so that Americans can settle in it. Apparently, the Cherokee had been given two years to move out of that land and when the two years passed, they were forcefully removed. Through the infamous divide-and-rule tactic perfected by British colonists, the American government got some Indian leaders to turn against their people by signing treaties. This precipitated internal strife: “ three chiefs who signed the Removal Treaty were found dead ”. The Divided society did not stand a chance to defend themselves against the US executive led by President Andrew Jackson. They turned to the two other arms of government for protection. Congress passed laws, which Jackson vetoed while the Supreme Court gave orders which Jackson openly ignored. This transformed Jackson into a law by himself, thus making him a dictator and despot. The effects of his leadership are reflected in the words of one of his commanders who stated about Indians: “ If they cannot be made good they must be killed”. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). A People's History of the United States.


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