Friday, February 11, 2011

What's Your Perspective?

Perspective and point of view are certianly part of our conversations as staff continue to talk about the 2012 exhibit on the history of Western New York, 1650-1825. An earlier blog related that staff members had each chosen a reading assignment to inform and broaden our thinking as early phases of work preparing for the exhibit are underway.
My reading assignment is Daniel K. Richter's Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America. The prologue of Richter's book opens with the author looking East out his hotel room window through the St. Louis Gateway Arch. It occurrs to Richter that the eastward perspective was the point of view of native populations as Europeans landed on the Atlantic shores. Rumors about the Europeans and perhaps some physical evidence of their culture probably traveled from seaboard tribes to those in the interior over time. Eventually some trade goods may have traveled to the interior as well, perhaps long before native groups actually encountered any of the newcomers.
Although perspectives and native encounter experiences with Europeans differed, how were Europeans viewed?
Were they to be welcomed? Were they to be feared? Should they be driven away or redirected at neighboring tribes? Were they competitiors? Were they suppliers of sought after goods? Did a relationship with them bring status within a tribal group?
Did a relationship with Europeans provide status and control that neighboring groups may envy? How would the encounters reshape traditional cultures? How would encounters with Europeans change one's family's life, both day-to-day and long term?
Interesting points of view to think about for sure.

I'm still reading and will share more at a later time. Stay tuned.

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