The ' Wretched Indians ' : What We Don 't Learn Essay

1559 Words Dec 3rd, 2016 7 Pages
“The ‘Wretched Indians’: What We Don’t Learn in History Books”

The Spanish Conquest as we know it has been largely painted as a valiant and remarkable achievement deemed justifiable through widely-accepted perceptions of European superiority. Indeed, when taught about these expeditions, rarely are we given sources that encourage us to picture the Indigenous peoples fighting on the same side as the Spaniards; After all, the textbooks say they were the ‘bad guys’ to beat, right? Matthew Restall’s Seven Myths of The Spanish Conquest reveals the subjective perceptions of the Spanish Conquest in an attempt to help modify the erroneous aspects of the Indigenous peoples’ narrative. In addition, as noted by Restall, even William H. Prescott, a historian deeply influenced by Spanish accounts, once justly wrote, “it would be unjust...to regard the Conquest as directly achieved by the Spaniards alone” (Restall, 45). Ultimately, Restall’s piece aims to both portray and acknowledge the omitted yet extremely crucial roles and identities of these peoples within this early colonial process.
In an effort to put a face to the many Indigenous peoples, it is important to note their heterogeneity and disunity. As Restall writes, “Spaniards lumped different native groups together as ‘Indians,’” when on the contrary, “Native American identity was highly localized...native peoples saw themselves as members of particular communities” and “very seldom as members of larger ethnic groups,” or in…

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