History is something that is important to study and learn from; this is true for several reasons. one reason is that one should know his own origins if he is to know himself. When Americans learn United States history, they are learning the roots to their identity and culture; the founding fathers of this country are part of that identity. The same is true with Mexico; the Aztecs and the Mexican revolutions are part of the identity of that particular country as well.
A second reason to learn study history is to protect one’s self from misinformation. It so happens that there is a lot of false history that I have run across, and I have also seen several people fall for it. An example of faked history is that Christopher Columbus was the first to say that that world is round; it never happened. There is also the Movie Zeitgeist which is full of demonstrably false historical claims as any research will show. There are other more serious examples which I will detail since there are too many.
A final reason to study history is to learn from the mistakes of the past. Not learning leaves us ignorant and vulnerable to repeating the the past. Some could say that today we have not learned the lessons of the Vietnam War, for example, and that would be why we arguably have made the same mistakes more recently.
In our schools, students will most certainly study United States history. They will usually hear the names of Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, etc. However, while we study American history, there is an important aspect of that very history that is not so well studied; the history of the first Americans, the Indians. There are not many students would would probably know the names of John Ross (Cherokee), Wahunsenacawh (Powhatan), Tecumseh (Shawnee), or Manuelito (Navajo). Students would probably recognize the name of Pontiac, but I do not have much faith that wouldn’t be because it’s a car.
Many that I have spoken to about the subject of American Indians usually give stereotyoical descriptions about groups of peoples who were only nomadic hunter gatherers; this is not universally true. There were Pre-Columbian Indians who built cities, for example, there was the city of Cahokia which was built by the mound builders, and there were the Anasazi who also were city builders. Both of these ancient American Nations inhabited land in the Present United States.
The learning of American history cannot be complete without learning about the people that had first inhabited this continent for several thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans in 1492. Such learning would aid to repair the stereotypes we have about the Indian peoples.
Though there are not many classes on the subject of Native American history, there are several useful resources to start off with. Below is an except of the documentary series called “500 Nations”: