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71 CHAPTER 5 The Empty Continent Cartography, Pedagogy, and Native American History ADAM JORTNER On March 27, 1814, American forces marched south to Horseshoe Bend, where they fought a battle with no one. At least, that is the story as told by a map of the “Southern Campaigns of the War of 1812” found in the 2010 edition of America: A Narrative History (map 5.1). The map shows arrows indicating troop movements—blue for Americans, red for British. But the Americans did not fight the British at Horseshoe Bend; they battled sectarians from the Creek Nation dubbed “Red Sticks” who sought political autonomy and religious renewal. The map has no arrows denoting the movement of Red Stick forces; the U.S. troops do all the moving and all the fighting. Students studying this map would have no clue whom the Americans met at that battle—and would probably conclude that it did not matter. The U.S. intervention in the Creek civil war, 1813–14, has been remapped as a battle between Americans and Britons.1 The missing Creek armies of 1814 exemplify the cartographic approach to Native American political units and territory in American college textbooks . In general, the maps in college textbooks portray Indian absence in the colonial period (1492–1776) and early American republic (1776–1861). These maps delegitimize Indian land claims, providing post hoc justification for white aggression and needlessly complicating pedagogy. Maps that show Indian presence and possession of land would be more accurate as well as a superior teaching tool. The missing Creeks are a case in point; including Creek armies at Horseshoe Bend demonstrates the extent to which the War of 1812 was a war about Indian territory. Maps with Native American presence can better explain to students how the conflicts over land shaped the United States, particularly in the early republic.2 In search of a better pedagogy, this essay examines five textbooks— America: A Concise History (Bedford/St. Martin’s), Created Equal (Longman ), American Horizons (Oxford), America: A Narrative History, and Give Me Liberty! (both from Norton). These volumes represent a window into modern U.S. history textbooks, not a comprehensive study. Each textbook was written or revised in the last decade, and all of them have had 72 ADAM JORTNER G U L F O F M E X I C O Pensacola Perdido R. P e a r l R. T o m b i g b e e R . B l a c k W arriorR. M i s s i s s i p p i R . A l a b a m a R . Jackson, 1814 J a c k s o n,1814 Pakenham, 1814 LOUISIANA GEORGIA MISSISSIPPI TERRITORY MISSOURI TERRITORY FLORIDA (SPANISH) Huntsville Tuscaloosa Mobile Horseshoe Bend New Orleans J a c k s o n , 1 8 1 3 American forces British forces Battle site 0 0 100 150 km 50 50 100 mi N Fort Mims expensive promotional campaigns intended to sway college history teachers to adopt them. Most important, these books all come from publishers who do not specialize in textbooks, which in theory would provide less institutional pressure to conform to standard textbook norms. Moreover, this selection of textbooks features similar—sometimes identical—maps. Where possible, I examined the “concise” edition of the textbooks, on the theory that few professors would assign a full textbook when the concise edition runs to 700 pages.3 American history textbooks in general have trouble presenting contributions and history of nonwhite populations, in part because textbooks present the past as a settled state of affairs, where “every problem has already been solved or is about to be solved,” as James Loewen put it. Loewen dissected twelve high school American history textbooks in his MAP 5.1 The Americans Fight No One at Horseshoe Bend. (Re-created from a map in George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi, America: A Narrative History, 8th ed. [New York: W. W. Norton, 2010]). Cartography, Pedagogy, and Native American History 73 popular bestseller, Lies My Teacher Told Me. Several studies in academic journals have replicated his results: namely, that history textbooks cover “facts, events, and people, and not the kinds of questions, decisions, and heuristics historians employ” professionally. At best, this approach is boring . At worst, it produces a system of heroification that teaches students “that Western civilization was supremely important, dominant, and powerful in shaping the histories of all people.”4 Presenting North American history as a...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469623368
Related ISBN
9781469621210
MARC Record
OCLC
907238489
Pages
352
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-23
Language
English
Open Access
No
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