News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

November 26, 2013

Readers’ Forum: Nov. 27, 2013

TERRE HAUTE — Measuring the accounts of history

The historical record of the tribes of North America is a saga marked by enormous potential, great failures and profound sadness. However, those who win the wars get to write the history books. Most recorded history is actually a subjective accounting of past events.

People with pen and paper sit down and attempt to accurately and ethically describe their perceptions of events they have seen, heard about and researched, a far cry from any guarantee of accuracy: It was a warm and windless morning when Caribbean tribes discovered and rescued a strange chief and his crew. The boat was unlike any they had seen. Intrigued by what and whom they had discovered on their shore, the tribes showed customary protocol and cared for their uninvited guests. They fed and nursed the men back to health. They helped supply them with food, fresh water and other goods and then wished them well in their journey back to their country far away.

Was Christopher Columbus a courageous visionary who discovered a new world or was he a lost sailor? Until Columbus’ arrival, the native people of this land were “undiscovered,” even though they had existed for thousands of years. The arrival of this lost chief of a faraway tribe turned out not to be new friends, but marauding invaders.

So which of the two historical perspectives is the most accurate? In today’s political stewpot of political correctness I may be accused of presenting a revisionist spin on U.S. history, but allow me to challenge your assumptions about nationalism and patriotism. Which do you believe is the more accurate record and why?

I think both are equally inaccurate and accurate. Five hundred years later after the arrival of the white man, America has often been referred to as the melting pot of the world. There was a time when immigrants prided themselves in becoming American, but now we are a fractured nation with every skin tone demanding special treatment.

So as we celebrate another Thanksgiving, be reminded of the past and current cost to invading nations. There are consequences — always. My regret is that the first nations did not form a department of Homeland Security.

— Barbara Lidster

Terre Haute

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