Opinion: Oklahoma attempts to rewrite role of Whites in history

The Land Rush of 1889 resulted in the loss of two million acres of Indian land in Oklahoma. Photo from Oklahoma Historical Society

Writer Tom Ehrich discusses the cleansing of Indian history in Oklahoma:
While I was driving to this eastern Oklahoma city that serves as capital of the Cherokee Nation, the Oklahoma Legislature was considering a bill to ban the teaching of history based on facts.

Instead, the legislators want a sanitized version of U.S. history based on lies and puffery about “American exceptionalism.”

It’s no wonder, since the state’s own history has a certain tarnish. The Land Rush of 1889 gave white settlers land taken partly from native tribes. Many land-rushers crept onto promising tracts early (hence their nickname “Sooners,” now the state’s nickname).

A history based on facts would trace the Cherokee tribes’ history back to their ancestral home in the American Southeast, where Georgians stole their land and eventually passed laws naming them as “colored” and thus denied civil rights. At a critical juncture in the 1830s, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the Cherokee, but President Andrew Jackson refused to enforce the ruling. That led to the 1838 removal known as the Trail of Tears, which enabled whites to swoop in and claim Cherokee property.

Facts, in other words, get in the way of teaching the history that many want to remember, the history in which whites play a starring role, not their actual and much more complicated roles.

Get the Story:
Tom Ehrich: The myth and lie of American exceptionalism (Religion News Service 2/24)

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