Bad Indians Summary

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A Tragic Version of History That Perpetuates the Myth of “Bad Indians”

Native Americans have traditionally been depicted as primitive people who were educated and saved by the missionaries. This is in contrast with the true history of the natives’ oppression and exploitation under the mission system. The real story, of murder, rape, and loss of culture, is rarely ever told. Deborah Miranda, the author of Bad Indians, brings to light the intentional and systematic erasure of her culture and the horrific experiences natives endured throughout the history of colonization. Miranda maps present-day circumstances to the continued whitewashing of history that glorifies European ideals at the expense of telling the sordid truth about the missionaries
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The title Bad Indians is used by teachers and missionaries to address what was viewed by society as bad behavior of Native Americans (96). The irony lies in the fact that those who were considered to be “Bad Indians” were ones who resisted imported European rule and sought to keep their individuality and culture. These “Bad Indians” fought back and it’s Miranda’s purpose to make it perfectly clear that they were true heroes. For instance, Miranda references the story of a women who spoke up against the patriarchal system to reveal efforts of resistance towards the missions. Vincenta, a young girl who was raped by a priest during confession, decided to speak out against the guilty padre. By not following the code of silence about abuse, Vincenta was considered rebellious and was labeled a “Bad Indian” (25). The story of Vincenta was passed down from generation to generation because she stood up for herself, and in doing so, found herself standing against oppression by simply asserting the truth. Her story survived because she because she set an example and became a symbol of refusing to accept the indignities of slavery and to be defined by others. Seen through an enlightened lens, she is remembered for her valiant effort to stand up for herself and her dignity in a system where she was viewed as …show more content…
By drawing from her own experiences and those of her ancestors, she brings into sharp focus the relationship of present-day struggles with not only the past, but the refusal to correct the whitewashed narrative. Even after all the violence, she shows how the truth is still not heard of her people. By retelling the all-but-forgotten stories of her people, Miranda shows how Native American history has been erased as missionization changed their culture forever. Miranda is methodical in making her case about how the whitewashing of missionary history has nearly decimated Native American culture, identity and pride; she brings example after example to trace the current struggles of Native Americans back to the erasure of their proud history. By pointing out the damage, she brings awareness. Once there is awareness, then there is an opportunity to reclaim Native American history with an accurate narrative, to counteract the systematic erasure of Native American contributions. Recovering this history and making information widely available offers an opportunity for growth. Along with awareness, comes hope of reclaiming a beautiful, true cultural identity and building on that self-esteem in the

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