First of all, the treatment of our history with the Indians (the indigenous population) is a very weak and indequate treatment. I remember going to school and I would learn about Indians who came to Thanksgiving dinner gratefully. I would learn about Custer’s Last Stand, I would learn about Sitting Bull. There were a few moments in Indian history that we’d learn about. What we didn’t learn about was the fact that the American colonists that came here from the beginning were invading Indian soil and driving the Indians out of their land and committing massacres in order to persuade the Indians that they’d better move. And the history of the U.S. is a history of hundreds of little wars fought against the Indians, annihilating them, pushing them farther and farther onto a smaller and smaller piece of the country. And finally, in the late 19th century, taking the Indians that were left and squeezing them onto a reservation and controlling them.
This is a history that is not told in most American textbooks. The story that’s not told is the deceptions that were played on the Indians, the treaties that were made with them, the treaties that were then broken by the American government. It’s important to know that, because if you do, then you will become aware that the American government can lie. It can deceive people. It can do it not only in relation to Native Americans, it can do it in relation to all of us. — Howard Zinn