Facing East from Indian Country Abstract

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Dan Richter, in Facing East from Indian Country, examines American history or rather Native American history from 1497 to roughly 1833. His audience is shown a coarse generality of the rise and fall of native culture due to the appearance of the Europeans. This Native culture peaked when both Native and European economies flourished with little conflict, and then plummeted with the rise of bitter conflict due simply to ignorance of the opposing cultures in the first place. The Natives go through phases in their relationships with Europeans; beginning with coexistence (“symbiosis”) as explorers peacefully traded with them (at least in North Eastern, North America). The truest form of this symbiosis lasted about 30 years between 1720 and 1750 when both sides were mutually codependent upon each other, then as the Natives began relying more heavily on the Europeans, the Europeans began taking advantage of Native ignorance. Then, due to this ignorance (and greed) on both sides now, tempers flare, slowly leading to direct conflict and the eventual annihilation of true Native sovereignty. Richter’s use of reverse engineering the European documents gives a thought-provoking perspective for the first three chapters. These chapters seem to flow together leaving the audience with a chronological journey through the first European experiences amongst the Native peoples, which all in all were mostly positive. This provides the audience more background information and a look into the native perspective and sentiments felt toward these people from the “New World.” In his third chapter, Richter utilizes popular examples of iconic natives such as Pocahontas and Metacom (or “King Philip” in the “civilized tongue) as vignettes, yet he manages to paint them in a new light and reveal details that might not have been popularly exposed (discrediting several myths in the process).
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