American Indians at Wounded Knee in Current U.S. History High School Textbooks: Discourse Analysis Using the Appraisal Judgment System


  • Michael W. Simpson University of Arizona


American Indians and allies have provided checklists and guidelines for the evaluation of textbooks for a long time. Henry (1970) called for accurate descriptions of American Indians peoples and the causes of conflicts. Others have asked that we look for stereotypes, loaded words, and distortion of history (Slapin, Searle, & Gonzalez , 1992). The Council on Interracial Books for Children examined high school history texts in 1977 and reported on key points missed and continuing problems with inclusions regarding American Indians. These and other such sources have been valuable in contesting much of what was identified in 1885 by the Superintendent of Indian Schools who complained about the mainstream textbooks that alternatively represented Indians as monsters and as romantic heroes (Reyhner & Eder, 2004, p. 75). Rarely, in my review of textbooks do I find the explicit language found in my paper on late 19th century school textbooks (Simpson, 2006). However, as a teacher in American Indian schools, my students and I really questioned any improvement. History still felt like a weapon. This paper is the result of the search to find a method or approach to help teachers and students learn about how historical discourse in school textbooks requires history to be thought about in certain ways.

Author Biography

Michael W. Simpson, University of Arizona