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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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.

Parallel Lives, Two Realities: Rachel Jeantel Speaks

By A. G. Moore

I wrote this blog about two years ago. It addresses the testimony of  Rachel Jeantel, witness at George Zimmerman’s murder trial.

As I listen to the commentary about Rachel Jeantel and her digressions from “standard” English, I wonder about the collective blinders her critics are wearing–and about their determined avoidance of the obvious issue raised by Ms. Jeantel’s usage: parallel cultures exist in the U.S. because of economic, social and racial isolation.

In 1912, George Bernard Shaw wrote a play called Pygmalion, which has enjoyed more recent incarnations as My Fair Lady. Most of us know the story: a young woman is taken from the poor precincts of London and groomed to pass as a member of the British upper class. Foremost in this process is a transformation of the woman’s almost incomprehensible cockney dialect into the more refined vernacular of the British ruling class. In a sense, Shaw wrote the story of Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in a Florida courtroom long before she was born. That’s because the story is as old as social organization itself. People arrange themselves into insiders and outsiders (see my blog on Robert E.Park). Class hierarchies are formed based on conspicuous differences

In 2011, John Logan and Brian Stults, of Brown and Florida State Universities, analyzed the results of the 2010 U. S. census. The researchers came up with interesting results. While a few cities, such as New York and St. Louis, showed a decline in segregation, others showed an increase. Among the more segregated cities was Miami, which, according to the Logan/Stults analysis, became significantly more socially and culturally divided between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.

The New York Times published its own analysis of segregation trends in the U. S. and the relationship of these trends to social mobility. The article described how some cities had intrinsic geographic barriers to social mobility and how these barriers impeded the ability of groups to move from one income class to another. The city highlighted in the article was Atlanta, Ga, but Miami was also given a poor social mobility score.

So what does this have to do with language? Well, besides what we all know instinctively as we accept Shaw’s Pygmalion story line, there’s a body of research which describes how dialects evolve within a society. Racially and socially isolated communities develop distinct cultures. Linguists look at the isolation of different groups and their social cohesiveness to assess whether or not the trend in that group would be to adopt standard language forms or to adhere to a non standard dialect. One study, carried out in Reading, England, is enlightening.

There is a phenomenon called “leveling” that has to take place if a dialect is to slowly disappear. Leveling simply means that differences between regional dialects and standard forms of language flattened so that one blends into the other. A couple of factors work against leveling. One of them is lack of social mobility: if groups do not have contact with one another then there is not likely to be the influence on language which would bring about leveling. This conclusion pretty much makes sense to even the non-scientist. However, there is another factor which has an impact on leveling: group cohesion.

The researchers looked at groups from different economic sectors who lived in essentially the same geographic setting (Reading). It turns out that lower income people tender to cling more tenaciously to group identity and part of group identity is language. As the researchers see it, this tendency to remain within a group is related to individual survival. Poorer people feel less secure and  need the support structure of their group. As incomes increase and survival becomes more certain, group support becomes less important and people are inclined to let go of group identifiers, such as language. In times of stress, mutual support of group members becomes essential and this is a kind of glue which reinforces group characteristics.

Now, back to Rachel Jeantel, who has lived in Miami for all of her 19 years. As the data shows, Miami is a city with a low social mobility quotient. Group identity is likely to be strong. Ms. Jeantel delivered her court testimony in mostly non-standard English. She delivered it in the vernacular of her group, of her community. Many who heard her took her lack of standard usage as a sign that she was not intelligent. But besides her usage, nothing about her presentation suggested a lack of cognitive alertness. She held her own against an aggressive and demeaning lawyer, someone skilled at courtroom interrogation. She delivered consistent testimony. Her thought process was not muddled.

While I cannot discuss Ms. Jeantel’s individual life circumstance–for I know very little about it–I can say that the English dialect she used is, like all dialects, a product of long-standing social and economic factors.

John McWhorter, linguistics scholar at Columbia University in New York, says of Ms. Jeantel: “…her English is perfect. It’s just that it’s Black English, which has rules as complex as the mainstream English of William F. Buckley.” Dr. McWhorter then goes on to explain the rules that govern Black English–rules Ms. Jeantel apparently commands very well.

Black English, the variation of standard English used by Rachel Jeantel, is an established dialect. It is as legitimate as other established dialects, such as Cockney (England) or Hiberno-English (Ireland). What many who listened to Ms. Jeantel’s testimony forgot was this: just because someone doesn’t talk like you doesn’t mean they’re not smart like you. And to think otherwise is to show your lack of sophistication, not theirs.