The Rise and Fall and Rise of Civilizations: Indian Intellectual Culture during the Removal Era

Exercise 1

This Teaching the JAH segment was created by Christina Snyder.

Much of the article focuses on native students who attended Choctaw Academy, the first federally- controlled Indian school. Beginning students focused on English literacy (less than half of the students arrived knowing English), but intermediate students studied the same subjects as other young Americans enrolled in academies. Among the intermediate courses was geography, which surveyed the world’s terrain as well as foreign cultures. Teachers assigned Jesse Olney’s textbook, the most popular geography schoolbook in the antebellum United States. Olney published dozens of editions, revising the text in telling ways. Compare the two editions published in 1830 and 1841. How did information on race and American Indians change over time? Why? Consider the texts alongside the essays by Indian students. How did the students respond to changing views on race? In what ways did they play into the expectations of congressmen? In what ways did they challenge their audience?

Compare the 1830 and the 1841 editions of Jesse Olney's A Practical System of Modern Geography; or a View of the Present State of the World.