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History and Imagination in Daniel's Richter's Facing East from Italian Country - Essay Example

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Name Title Instructor Date History and Imagination in Daniel Richter’s Facing East from Indian Country Part I In an award winning historical study of Native early America, Daniel Richter takes the reader through the most important stages of the early social developments in the New World, and their re-construction through the perspective of the Native people…
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History and Imagination in Daniels Richters Facing East from Italian Country
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History and Imagination in Daniel's Richter's Facing East from Italian Country

The book surpasses the narrow confinements of the academic study and depicts the Eastern and Western perspective of historical developments in early Native America from an instrumentalist point of view. Richter’s study also centres on the creation of histories and their construction as part of a transcontinental discourse. In the words of the author, the main purpose of the book is to “hear Native voices when they emerge from the surviving documents, to capture something about how the past might have been if we could observe it from Indian country” (9). In the following chapters, Richter achieves his purpose. History is personified and imagined through the accounts of the Native Americans. Organized in six chapters, the study reveals the evolution of the relations between the settlers and the Native Americans. The structure successfully captures the psychology behind this evolution and chronologically depicts its stages. Initially the image of the settlers is imagined by the Native people, as a distant, non-tangible world. Richter describes the materialization of this world and the gradual establishment of social dynamics, which Indians and settlers shared. The natives started to make use of the new tools and guns in order to improve their crafts, and as a result commerce began to prosper. Also, the redistribution of economic resources is a result of the innovation brought by the settlers (52-80). What makes Richter’s method interesting and authentic is its ‘double’ (his)tory-telling. He accounts for the perspective of the Westerners, as well as the perspective of the Native people, whose historical articulation of the same occurrences has been different. A good example is the story of Pokahontas in Chapter 3, where the opposing interpretations of the Natives and the settlers are discussed (Richter 69-110). In the final chapters Richter observes the tensions between the Natives and the settlers, which have been accumulated in two separate historic creations – the world of the Indians and the world of the settlers. The most challenging concepts of the book are presented probably in the last chapter, which describes the clash between the Indian and the White ethnic identities. The Indian identity exists as an oppositional element in a world, already dominated by the settlers. In this sense Richter’s observation offers a historically sensitive and instrumentalist reading of one of the most disputed passages in American history. Perhaps his greatest contribution in this study is his ability to make the reader visualize historical events, and to question their depiction in conventional academic literature and fiction. Part II Seeing history from different perspectives is more than a projection of the past – it is a condition for understanding why the present looks the way it does. In this sense, retelling American history through the eyes of the Native people is important for understanding it not only as a mixture of flat events, but as part of a broader historical tendency. By seeing history through the prism of the Native people, we gain a different perspective on their attempts to adapt their system of beliefs, social traditions and customs to the growing patterns of dominance, which were being established by the settlers. Richter raises this peculiar topic of adjustability in his observation ... Read More
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