July 22, 2002
10:00 AM   Subscribe

First there was the evolution in schools thing. Now, people are complaining about history books (in Texas no less), with such problems as "Margie Raborn said she wants all U.S. government books to describe the United States as a republic based on biblical beliefs."
posted by benjh (26 comments total)
Is it in the best interest of the students, as well as the education system as a whole, to allow everyone in the state to have an opinion on what is said in text books? What is generally accepted as fact, and what is perceived are surely two different things entirely.

This was also a country founded on a secular belief system, and as such, this attempt to further push religion into schools sickens me.
posted by benjh at 10:03 AM on July 22, 2002

This really caught my eye:
An example of a "mistake" cited in a Texas Public Policy Foundation review: Proposed books fail to say that Indian tribes were as much to blame as fur traders and tourists for wiping out the great buffalo herds of the Plains by shooting the animals for sport.
I dunno about you, but I've always thought (and been taught) that it was the settlers that were responsible for the near extinction of bison. Does anyone know what the real story is?
posted by bshort at 10:15 AM on July 22, 2002

before cattle ranching in the Great Plains, UFOs had to mutilate something, didn't they?
posted by tolkhan at 10:18 AM on July 22, 2002

"Who me? I'm Canadian."
"Who me? I'm Canadian."
"Who me? I'm Canadian."

Sorry (uh, sorrey). Just practicing shame-avoidance techniques.

[What? Michigan's part of Canada, isn't it?]
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:20 AM on July 22, 2002

bshort, I think you're right. From my understanding the "settlers" played a major role in the the near extinction of bison. Perhaps American Indians did have some role in the killing of bison, after all they hunted them too. However I don't think they were as much to blame as the "settler" in terms of the number of bison of killed.
posted by Bag Man at 10:20 AM on July 22, 2002

Gotta love the way we rewrite history to suit our current agenda. How can we learn from history if we change it?
posted by jeblis at 10:21 AM on July 22, 2002

dear god, it's me again. please make it stop! thanks.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:22 AM on July 22, 2002

bshort: take a look at this.
posted by vacapinta at 10:34 AM on July 22, 2002

vacapinta: awesome link

I also found that there's this book out: The Ecological Indian which apparently tries to argue that the "Indians" were responsible for the near extinction of several species.

From the comments that people have left on Amazon, it appears that people are pretty widely divided on it (as one might expect). I also found this refutation that would be great except for some glaring logical errors that mar the entire argument.
posted by bshort at 10:49 AM on July 22, 2002

Missing background: Texas textbook reviews have long been an ideological battleground. Some years ago, in an attempt to right this situation, the Leg stipulated that only 'factual errors' could be disputed. So, now, instead of just claiming that a textbook has (or doesn't have!) a certain ideological agenda, those involved in the process have to find 'errors.' It's still a powerful ideological battleground though.
posted by tippiedog at 10:51 AM on July 22, 2002

I'd not want to be one of the members of the "Texas Freedom Network." Talk about fighting a losing battle.
posted by aacheson at 10:53 AM on July 22, 2002

Texas: It's a whole 'nother country! Please Lord, please!
posted by nofundy at 10:59 AM on July 22, 2002

Can we bring back hanging now?
posted by rushmc at 11:53 AM on July 22, 2002

Margie Raborn said she wants all U.S. government books to describe the United States as a republic based on biblical beliefs

I want a million dollars. Seems like Margie and I have something in common: unrequited desire.
posted by kindall at 11:56 AM on July 22, 2002

as if textbooks aren't screwed up enough already. sheesh.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:02 PM on July 22, 2002

If I recall correctly, it was the settlers who caused the near extinction of buffalo. When the railroad traveled west, it was "sport" to shoot buffalo from the moving trains...

The Native Americans killed buffalo as a matter of survival, for food, shelter, etc.
posted by FullFrontalNerdity at 12:51 PM on July 22, 2002

"I pledge allegiance to the [non-religious symbol] of the [occasionally] United States and to the Republic [a term not espousing any particular political party] for which it stands, one Nation under [the religious or non-religious figure of your choice] (recitation of this section is not mandatory should you not espouse any belief in any deity), indivisible [on some topics], with liberty and justice for all [as long as no one is offended].
posted by Samizdata at 2:57 PM on July 22, 2002

And buffalo is good...
posted by Samizdata at 2:57 PM on July 22, 2002

I can't remember where I got this from, but I always thought that it was a U.S. Government policy that the Bison were deliberately exterminated as part of the drive to wipe out the Native Americans, one of the more successful parts of that policy. Not something I can prove - just saying it's the version of the story that entered my brain twenty or thirty years ago.

(Apologies if someone has mentioned it before).
posted by Grangousier at 3:44 PM on July 22, 2002

Another reason for wiping out the Bison was the construction of the trans-continental railroad. Imagine what a herd of 100,000 bison would do to the tracks and you'll see the "logic" there as well.
posted by gnz2001 at 4:11 PM on July 22, 2002

FFN and Grangousier, your recollections are correct according to the article that vacapinta linked above. I remember learning the same thing ... and I went to high school in Texas. I guess textbooks fifteen years ago were flying under the radar of these new historical revisionists.
posted by acridrabbit at 4:20 PM on July 22, 2002

"The immediate cause for the tremendous slaughter of buffalo in the 1870s and 1880s was the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The southern herd was the larger and was exterminated first. The slaughter in the south began in earnest in 1874 and was over by 1878. In the north the great hunts began in 1880 and were over by 1884. The rapid destruction can be seen from these figures: in 1882, 200,000 hides were shipped out of the Dakota Territory; in 1883, 40,000; and the following year, only one carload. Even so, it was estimated that for every two hides shipped, three were lost".
posted by Mack Twain at 9:52 PM on July 22, 2002

To expand on what tippiedog said: Texas is a big school textbook battleground because it is one of the largest single markets for school textbooks. Not all states buy their textbooks in bulk, on a statewide basis, but Texas does. Therefore, publishers tend to try to please Texas (and California and Florida).
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:02 PM on July 22, 2002

On the lighter side: Richard Feynman and the Textbook Selection Process
posted by vacapinta at 10:43 PM on July 22, 2002

samizdata: right on about bison meat. it's quite good really, indistinguishable from beef cattle except it's far leaner (you have to add grease to fry a buffalo burger --- it grills wonderfully, tho)
posted by nathan_teske at 11:40 PM on July 22, 2002


Struck me as a bit sweeter than beef, but still very, very good. Makes a wicked chili-burger.

You know, considering the leanness of buffalo (in the sense of meat versus fat yield) and the taste, one wonders why commerical bison farming hasn't done better, especially as bison seem to do quite well on less lush land...
posted by Samizdata at 3:39 PM on July 23, 2002

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