Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our Diverse History Is Even More Varied & Interesting Than We Have Been Taught

My long-time friend Kathleen Thompson is one of the founders of the site

Kathleen's background includes being a bookseller, an author, a playwright, an editor, an educator, and — throughout it all — a feminist (she co-authored the classic Against Rape). Her diverse interests have reached a new stage with OneHistory.

Let's face it, American history is not what most of us have always thought it was. It is not a neat story written in a book or even a hundred books. Not only is it far from finished -- we're living it right now -- but it is far from being recovered, reclaimed, and recorded. So many voices have been silenced for so long that our historical chorus has often sounded like a brass band with only one trumpet and a beat up tuba.
So, what is OneHistory trying to do about it?
OneHistory was founded ... for students, teachers, and the general public. Our aim is to have high-quality, accessible content for all levels of learners and for a variety of interests. ...

Because of both personal experience and professional exposure, we are acutely aware of the educational difficulties faced by many children. That is why we have a number of features designed specifically for Hi-Lo readers. In addition, after witnessing the power that images from our book The Face of Our Past had on a huge variety of audiences, we began to explore the power of imagery as a teaching tool.

We at OneHistory are passionate about historic images and this site has a number of features designed to help people understand their power. Like a diary or other text document, an image is a primary document. And like a text document, a historic image must be read with care. In others words people must become visually literate. Toward that end, we have included an entire section of the site devoted to visual history.

As an example, I was pleasantly surprised to find an early plea for religious freedom — freedom of and freedom from — by an early (Native) American.
Red Jacket (c. 1750-1830) was a Seneca leader and spokesman for the Six Nations. He gave this speech in 1805 in response to appeals by missionaries that his people convert to Christianity.
An excerpt:
Brother, continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended for us, as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that Book, with the means of understanding it rightly. We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?

Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why do not all agree, as you can all read the Book?

If you get some time, go browse around I'm sure you'll find something new or interesting. If you can, recommend it to other students, teachers, or parents who might find it useful.

Let's keep more of our heritage from disappearing into the dustbins of history.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism
free debate