November 3rd, 2012
I have blogged and stated many times that there is a need for, and great value in, Indigenous peoples writing their own histories. Euro-American societies only respect and pay attention to written materials and scholarly publications. The oral cultures and histories of American Indians, for example, are almost totally ignored by the federal courts, educational institutions, and American society.
I was pleased that at least four books touching on native histories and viewpoints were written by tribal entities and American Indian individuals during the Lewis & Clark expedition bicentennial of 2003-06.
Many times, though, critics will claim that such materials are "revisionist histories." I suppose by "revisionist" they mean that a modern author is writing history to make a point or to view history through some specific viewpoint, such as a minority or feminist viewpoint?
I have no problem with those goals, even if the charges of revisionism are somehow true. Is there any reason to believe that the "first history" written on a particular subject by a mainstream European or American professor, for example, were written without any bias, prejudice, or less than complete knowledge of a subject? Of course not. We know that inherent and even sometimes purposeful prejudicies and even false information have been put forth in allegedly neutral, unbiased, and scholarly histories and commentaries.
Indigenous peoples need to write their own histories so that the academic and scholarly profession and the general reading public can be exposed to the wider truths about historical events.
I just saw a quotation in Perth Australia that provoked me to write this blog entry. Professor Frank K. Crowley is quoted on a big sign near the State Library of Western Australia: "The prize of all history is the understanding of modern times."
It is time for Indigenous peoples and scholars all over the world to research and write their own histories, and the histories of the countries where they are now located, so that a more true and complete "understanding of modern times" in their countries can be developed.