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Bedtime Stories, The Oregon Trail, Chapter 4, part-2 and Chapter 5

June 16, 2015

There are some outdated, what we today would consider racist; attitudes in this book.  Francis Parkman was a product of his time and it is good that we acknowledge this was how it was so that we don't repeat these attitudes.  Parkman actually spent a number of weeks living with the Sioux tribe, at a time when they were struggling with some of the effects of contact with Europeans, such as epidemic disease and alcoholism. This experience led Parkman to write about American Indians with a much different tone from earlier, more sympathetic portrayals represented by the "noble savage" stereotype. Writing in the era of Manifest Destiny, Parkman believed that the conquest and displacement of American Indians represented progress, a triumph of "civilization" over "savagery", a common view at the time.