Exploration and Conquest Stories of Indigenous Peoples: With Student Study Guide


Featuring:

  1. Vocabulary Development
  2. Reading Comprehension
  3. Written Expression
  4. Core Curriculum Concepts
  5. An Integrated Workbook
  6. Pictures Highlighting Key History Figures And Events

A Book For High School Students: Exploration And Conquest Stories Of Indigenous Peoples

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This book takes the student around the globe and across the centuries with a pictorial odyssey.  Six continents are covered, as are island nations.   Twenty-two anecdotes are labeled “Did You Know?” Each of these has a vivid photo associated and a dramatic story.  For example:  Vietnamese villages are shown kowtowing to French invaders; indigenous Putumayo are shown chained as slave laborers on South American rubber plantations; and junks are shown burning off the coast of Canton during the Opium Wars.

A special feature is the “Useful Terms” section, which offers simple explanations for challenging words that appear in the text.  Also, in the “Student Study Guide” (incorporated into the book), there is an exercise in map reading.  There are, additionally,  vocabulary and reading comprehension questions, as well as a suggested essay in the Guide.

The book is suitable for high school or upper middle school.  Upon completion of the book, students will have learned how Europe’s Age of Exploration affected indigenous peoples around the world.

The photo below illustrates how the images in “Exploration and Conquest” capture dramatic moments in history.  Photos, such as the one featured here, will hold students’ attention and will help them understand critical concepts.

Ethiopian Resistance Fighters
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This photo was taken between 1935 and 1940 by an unknown author.  The men were part of organized resistance to Mussolini as he sought to expand his African colonies.
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What Do We Do About Inequality? Book Review

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Lenin, giving a speech to the troops, 1920. Picture by G. Goldshtein.  Copyright expired.

The title of this essay collection, “What Do We Do About Inequality?, is a bit like a traffic sign. We’re clearly told the orientation of the book and where it will take us if we decide to read further. Some readers will see this title and follow the path. Those who do, likely will proceed for one of two reasons: either they believe inequality is a problem that needs correction, or, they believe the issue of inequality is a straw dog, and they’re eager to shoot down the arguments of those who stress about it. Of course, some who read this title will look away. They may believe the issue has nothing to do with them, or is so intractable that discussion is pointless.

The greatest value of “What Do We Do About Inequality? is that it doesn’t offer one solution, or even one point of view. It gives space to commentators who have a variety of perspectives. Readers should be prepared to agree, disagree, or shake their heads in puzzlement. As informative as some essays are, a few others get bogged down in jargon that will mean little to lay readers. However, on the whole, the contributors to this book have a great deal to offer. The inequalities considered are not limited to economic disparity, but also include other manifestations of inequality, including race and gender.

One essay I found persuasive, “The Age of Inequality: Causes, Discontents and A Radical Way Forward“, was written by Jason Hickel and Alnoor Ladha. Hickel and Ladha offer a fact-based analysis of economic inequality. In the view of these authors, inequality is a “self-perpetuating cycle: the rich are able to buy policy decisions that shore up the very system that delivered them their wealth in the first place.” The Hickel/Ladha analysis suggests two remedies they describe as cosmetic, but nonetheless essential: impose a global tax on capital and institute a minimum “living wage” that is pegged to inflation. True reform, however, will not come, the authors assert, until more profound changes are effected: the global “power imbalance” must be corrected.

What Do We Do About Inequality? is an important book. Chris Oestereich, its editor (and a key contributor) has created a platform for comparing ideas about a core social issue. It’s hard to find an area of life, or of the world, that inequality does not influence. Those who enjoy the privileges of inequality, whether it be racial, religious, gender or economic, may not regard inequality as a problem. This fortunate minority live in a bubble of denial. Moral considerations aside, resentment engendered by inequality is noxious and enduring. To ignore simmering discontent is to invite a chaotic, volatile, and spontaneous solution. This would certainly bring change, but of the sort that would have profound and unpredictable consequences.

If we look to history, we see clearly how gross inequality can destabilize government and social order. The French and Russian Revolutions, for example, were instigated largely by the issue of inequality. Even in the United States, dramatic government reform was enacted during the Great Depression, largely to forestall civic unrest. There was very real concern that growing inequality would lead to an uprising by those who were suffering.

It may be true that the poor will always be among us, but the number of poor and the degree of their poverty, according to “What Do We Do About Inequality?“, can be affected by rational application of sound social and political reform. It’s either that, or wait for the despair of the poor to overwhelm them. At that point, upheaval will undermine the social order, an order that seems secure to those who exist in remote perches of privilege.

Haiti: How Colonial Powers Stole Opportunity

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Haiti’s first flag, 1803.  Haiti was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean.

By A. G. Moore

(This is a reblog from a 2011 post that appeared on noplaceforrumors.com.)

It is true that Haiti lies on an earthquake fault and in a tropical storm zone.  From time to time the tiny country  is struck by natural calamity of epic proportions.  This is one of those times. However, it is not Haiti’s geography which has been the nation’s undoing:  it  was greed that did it in, the greed of neighbors and overseers who robbed Haiti of its civic and economic legacy before the nation had a chance to claim its future.

Domingue (the name was changed to Haiti after independence in 1804) was a French colony; sugar and tobacco plantations provided a great income stream to France.  The economy of the island was predicated on slave labor, which was imported in such numbers as to exceed the slave trade in all other territories in the western hemisphere, except Jamaica.  Because of the brutal conditions in which the slaves of Domingue were kept, death rates were very high and there was a constant importation of new captives from Africa.

By the late 1700’s Haiti was not a peaceful place.  Recent African immigrants were not as tractable as second generation slaves might have been and the brutality of the conditions in which the slaves were maintained contributed to the unrest.

By 1791, revolution broke out.  Led by Toussaint Louverture, the goal of the revolution initially was not independence but the abolition of slavery.   Louverture led a successful campaign against the French, but eventually was defeated by treachery.  He ended up in a French prison, where he died of pneumonia in 1803.

Perhaps if Louverture had lived, and been allowed to govern, Haiti might have had a chance.  But that’s not likely.  Because, not only had the arrival of colonialists brought death to the indigenous people (the Tainos) of the island,  not only had these colonialists kept their slaves in such barbarous conditions as to deny the slaves’ very humanity (stories are told of slaves being set upon by dogs; of slaves being boiled in vats of molasses; of slaves being buried alive in ant hills), but the French decided, after Haiti became an independent country, that a debt was owed.  Not by the French to the Haitians, but by the Haitians to the French.

At first, in defiance of this demand from France,  Haiti endured an embargo which denied it the opportunity to benefit from trade of its rich produce.  Eventually, the Haitians submitted and agreed to pay France  to  compensate the former slave owners for the loss of their property.  Haiti was handed a bill and that bill was not cancelled until 1947.  One of the reasons for the prolonged debt service was the conditions of payment.  France insisted that the debt be financed through a French bank, which unilaterally set interest rates and terms.

So much for what France owes to the Haitians.

As to Haiti’s northern neighbor, the U. S.:  from the moment  it became an independent country, Haiti was an irritation to the United States.  For one thing, Haiti presented an example to slaves in the U.S.  that a successful rebellion was possible. Plantation owners in the southern part of the United States were unsettled by this dynamic. Insurrections among U. S slaves, especially in Louisiana, were blamed on the Haitian influence.  U.S.  Assistant Secretary of State Alvey Adee summed it up in 1888 when he called Haiti a “public nuisance at our door”.

The U.S. intervened in Haitian affairs numerous times over the years and U. S. corporations found Haiti a profitable place in which to invest their capital.  By 1915 this investment was so significant that when it appeared to be threatened, Woodrow Wilson, the proponent of “self-determination” for European nations, sent an army into Haiti to secure  U.S. interests.  While the stated aim of the invasion was to neutralize German influence on the Island, subsequent actions of the U. S. government belie this claim.  $500,000 was appropriated from the Haitian National Bank, “for safekeeping”; the U.S. took over all the Customs Houses and ports;  it created a national guard which was an arm of the U.S. government.  Finally, Haitians were prevented from passing a constitution unless that constitution allowed for foreign ownership of property.

So…while it was still saddled with a hundred-year-old debt to France, Haiti found itself straddled by an overlord who extracted essentially whatever profits remained.  Any pretext at self government was denied as the U. S. routinely replaced Haitian leaders who did not endorse U. S. policy.

Haiti never had a chance. If there had been a plan to sabotage its future, to deny it the basic opportunity to rule itself and enjoy the benefits of its own  resources, the plan could not have been more thoroughly realized than it is today.

Besides the ruinous appropriation of Haiti’s revenue,  France and the U.S. were guilty of another at least as injurious a theft:  the theft of governance.  Never in Haiti’s history was it allowed to develop a civic organization which was entirely self-engendered and which acted only in the interests of the Haitian people.  Crop development, land management, trade negotiations:  nothing was left  to the Haitians.  Everything was engineered to profit first France and then the U.S.

Today Haiti is beleaguered by depleted soil, antiquated infrastructure (what remains after the last earthquake), a poorly educated citizenry and an almost total lack of governance. Haiti’s desperate state is not an act of God nor an accident of nature.  It is the result of plunder.   Those who have plundered are responsible.

I don’t know how to fix Haiti.  The amount of money necessary to do that may be more than the U. S. and France think they can afford in this difficult financial climate.  But whatever the endeavor costs, it must be done.  For Haiti is a living legacy of French colonialism and U.S. imperialism.  Like any victim of imprisonment and theft, Haiti has a right to compensation and rehabilitation, no matter the price.