tv American Artifacts National Museum of the American Indian Trail of Tears... CSPAN December 16, 2018 6:00pm-6:40pm EST
conference, and it suddenly dawned on us, suddenly realized what we had done. at the time you're doing something you don't realize what you're doing. it's work. you're doing this, you're doing that. when the things are accomplished that you come back did that.ee, we the case.y was we were there. we saw the moon, the far side of the >> you are watching american history tv only on c-span3. >> each week american artifacts exceed to museums and historic basis to learn about american history. visit the trail of tears gallery at the national museum of the american indian in washington dc , which looks at the national debate over the 1830 indian removal -- indian removal act and its impact on southern tribes. associate curator paul chaat us through the
americans exhibit, which examines how indian imagery is prominent in children's toys and mascots. paul: it is built on a paradox, the riddle. the paradox is this -- in 2018 the united states is a country of 283 million people. and indians are perhaps 1% of that population. most americans live in urban areas and parts of the country where they never actually see american indians. yet american life in images, , surroundg, mascots .eople every single day the show is about exploring the strange contradiction of how prevalent american indians are , really fromife
the earliest memories of americans throughout their life, and yet somehow it was never really noticed much, never seemed is important. the territorial team decided to call this phenomenon "indians everywhere." it's normalizing what's actually a really weird phenomenon. we looked and we couldn't find which onecountry in ethnic group has been used for so many different purposes for such an extraordinarily long read --o the present present. and look at the vastness of it, the uniqueness of it, and explored the reasons for why it exists. have over 300 objects and images of representation for american indians before the country began up to the present.
manner of every advertising for every sort of product. and we have a handful of major objects that will get a significant amount of visitor attention, including a motorcycle from 1948. people who love motorcycles often revered the indian motorcycle as a special model. it was at the height of american engineering craftsmanship and style. and what's interesting to us about the motorcycle is that the name of the brand was chosen to from competition, particularly the u.k.. the company has gone through many changes through the years. ownership has changed multiple
times. a must nothing exists from the early days when it started out as a bicycle factory. and so it went through all of these changes in ownership. the one thing that survives is indian. that becomes the more valuable thing about the product. you see how much they emphasize that and the options are all indian related. you don't choose something like that unless you feel it adds value, that sort of name. one of the things the exhibition is about is how indians add to products, entertainment, and ultimately to the nation itself.
something people often look for was something about the local nfl team here in washington. sure how toeally present the objects, because we thought them to be a little boring. but we chose to do was in multiple places, really show how these mascots are in everyday life, rather than show them by here we havee you a photograph of robert griffin the third, a sensational quarterback for the redskins. what we were interested in is to really appreciate why people support teams.
pull -- very few say come awe -- which team has the best name teamyou usually support a because you're in a region, because your family and friends support it. the teams are chosen by rich guys, and it is a determinate of thing -- determinative thing. huge role in civic life, bringing people together. having that image of robert griffin the third with a young fan feels like a generous approach to this, while at the it is ae dictionary-defined to. most are certainly opposed to it. for me it is someone who lives for a washington area main representation on a daily
basis. at the same time we are not about trashing people who support the team. for people who look for washington redskins, it is here. i think everyone understands of a team came up no one would choose such a name. it was part of our effort to be welcoming to people, people who don't necessarily agree with us. i've always thought the chicago have one of the most attractive logos as far as at anesthetics --as as far as anesthetics. -- as far as aesthetics.
again, what we think is interesting is there such a tiny number of other examples. people say, what about the notre dame irish, what about the dallas cowboys? it's like 1000 to one. we are looking what makes this both socially -- looking at what makes this both socially acceptable and something you don't really need to think about. most people never thought about it, it just seemed right to call a team warriors or indians or apache. that's really what we are trying to get at, really look at how isvasive it is an strange it once you take a look at it. ocean --ograph is of , withmichelle obama people wearing chicago blackhawks jerseys.
to show how this becomes normalized and ordinary. when we thought about how to show this in the exhibition, the decision we made is it's impossible to show -- it's about how people usually ,ecide to support a team usually because that's where they live. forceds to be a unifying in many ways. and it comes at a way that dehumanizes american indians. this is something that happens to native american people. rarely does it happen to other groups in the united states. >> there is not one opinion as far as american indians on this phenomenon. two examples that are clearer the cleveland indians, which the imagee would say
feels very stereotypical. non-indian people would say that feels out of place. the team is now phasing that logo out. redskins, being a dictionary-defined slur area -- slur. others aren't clear, lack ox, or the name "indians," without a blackhawksal name -- without name "indians," a stereotypical name. they used the headrest to promote a team in the early days . now they are still called the warriors, but they made no reference to american indians. i think those are interesting things to debate. our point of view is how vast
the phenomenon is. when you decided to say this one , or chicago blackhawks, if you make this change it's fine. they are really looking at the larger picture. i think every exhibition should have a photograph of elvis presley in it. just to give an example of how many distinguished americans ave found themselves wearing headdress, elvis presley did a --ie in which team played which he played in native american character. others weren't playing in native american character, including franklin delano roosevelt, richard nixon, the famous union leader jimmy hoffa, share. the reasons why people warhead dresses in these particular ways very.
how people would never think in this context would end up wearing a headdress. and through most of the country's history would seem like something that just made sense. when we talk about these representations surrounding americans throughout their lives , one of the most important ways is through movies and television. we have a section in this really showshich 100 years of these images, going away from 1930 -- 1935 movies way to theall the unbreakable kimmy schmidt and other contemporary television comedies. and it's a little bit like the
celebrities. that situation comedies in the 60's and 70's had nothing to do with indians. would routinely have some indian themed shows. it could be the monsters. it could be seinfeld. it was interesting to us, because television was a more intimate form than film because it's in your living room, it's in your house. actually watching indians on american life on your tv and in your living room. if you ask people about those tv shows, they may not remember. often they say, oh yes, that brady bunch episode. i remember all about it.
in aays knew i wanted this show, but would probably decide against it, because kids today didn't grow up with this image. this is called the rca test pattern. in the early days it would be broadcast at the beginning of end,roadcast day, at the and often throughout the day, when television still had committed amount of programming. actually you see this image now in hipster t-shirts, in video games. it has established a life of itself. what was interesting about it was in the late 40's and 50's when tv was new, it's a completely different kind of light that didn't exist.
it's this weird machine that's in your house. the engineers wanted something that could actually adjust the broadcast quality, the picture quality. that explains the lines and the numbers and everything. they also wanted the majority to get that equality that -- it quality as well. -- that equality as well. everyone knows an indian and a headdress. it also signifies american -- american-ness. i think there's something spooky and subversive. it's in your living room, it's on early in the morning, late at night. there is feel
something bizarre going on with the american conscience, somehow getting into people's heads in a way they don't fully understand even today. we have three galleries that look at these huge moments in american history. 50 years after the american revolution, the united states passed the indian removal act of 1830. what we are really looking at here is how the indian removal is the most significant law ever passed, more important than any other treaty or federal action.
we look at why we believe that to be true. in this moment in which american democracy was on trial. in 1830, the united states was the only representative democracy in the world. revolutions had failed in europe. despite all the horrific flaws in the united states in 1830, the enslavement of black people, women couldn't vote, indians being possessed -- being dispossessed. later, white men couldn't vote until they owned property. all these terrible flaws in the united states, it still was a beacon of hope around the world. it still was a country that took seriously it's enlightening ideals.
in 1830 this national conversation that had been simmering for some time comes to a head in the jackson administration proposes the indian removal act. it's about is trying to manage this problem, which are -- which there are indian nations in the state. it feels intolerable to a certain number of americans that there should be this self-described indian nation within the united states. in 1830, the act proposes something that is really quite extraordinary. a future inagines which the united states would exist without american indians. landoposes an exchange of
so that indians inside the territorial borders of the united states would be west of the mississippi. , igniting asolution national debate. and what we show in this section is how many points of view there were on this. american indians had a great deal of agency and influence. the cherokee leader was a national political figure in the united states. and both politicians and members of congress, but also civic groups. opposedre legislators to what this act was talking about, which was a removal of american indians. we knew that most americans
today, if they knew the term trail of tears, they understand that it was a moment of national shame for the united states. we know people understand it was something the country regrets. interested in doing is trying to explain how there was a real national debate about that people at the time, including people in congress, predicted that it would not go well. we wanted to show that it was a national conversation that happened. in this section we showed a range of points of view. we start with president jefferson, who understood that there was a contradiction in his mind about having these indian nations within the borders of the united states. he thought a lot about what the different solutions might be to that.
usually, with some form of dispossession that was being talked about, during the early decades of the 19th the cotton team was coming into its own. it was clear kotten could be engineered into economic development in the deep south. cotton could be engineered into economic development in the deep south. to removee pressured themselves, and some of them do accept offers of removal in .xchange for land and money but this debate is a moment in which the country really has to think about what it stands for. we show points of view of president jefferson, general ross. we talk about different civic
organizations that were involved as well. a particular member of congress, who spoke really eloquently against the removal act, and again from the point of view as a betrayal of american principles. so i think president jackson in a way gets too much credit for the removal. there were two choices behind this before he came into office. he was certainly the manager and executor of the policy. and he oversaw the passage of the indian removal act. it interesting it becomes this one part of his administration, because for most of the decades since he left office he was much more known for other policies, such as the bank of the united states, being the person -- the
first person who was in from virginia massachusetts to become president. it shows how history changes. time, if you had to say who was the person most responsible, it was certainly president jackson. one thing that's a surprise to it was inors is how congress paid a pass with a margin, but it wasn't an overwhelming margin. i think it's fair to say that , it reallydebate became national policy in a genuine way. even though the vote was split, once it was enacted into law it really does become the policy of the united states of america. one of the things that was set in place was a template for a approachaternalistic towards american indians.
this was really good for american indians. they are going to be much better off west of the sith -- west of the mississippi. they are going to be just fine and they are being compensated. the humanitarian argument sense ofver in the central policies following this, that basically said the united knew what was best for american indians. it's really about words and texts. the act, with reading which visitors can do. it's not very long, 200 words. it never particularly references any -- never references any particular indian tribe. pitch.lso a real estate
you know, "let's exchange -- let's come to a deal, exchange lands." if american indians choose not to accept lands in the west, they can stand everything will be fine. it's extraordinarily misleading. revealing in that it does state pretty clearly that wouldates in the south grow and economic wealth and explicit goal that this would help build this part of the united states, which is being held back by these internal nations. it's very clear what it's saying. we are doing this for economic development reasons. that this iss
voluntary, that it is an offer. it is misleading and not targeting indian nations in the south. the indian removal act was passed in may of 1830, indian nations still fought against it. they still marshaled public in the, they filed suits united states supreme court to prevent it. and, you know, kept fighting throughout the 1830's. some indian nations did go ahead with removal. -- it's important or member conditions -- indians were under attack. a lot of indians understood where this was all going. and it's become understood in
american imagination. one of the things we wanted to accomplish in this exhibition was to show that this is a large national, even global event. not really about the cherokee, is about the five thatized tribes transformed national borders, transformed to national economies. it was also a massive project for the united states to carry out. president jackson had to personally sign every plan for the united states. he spent one miserable december signing thousands of them by hand. they passed a law that said some details could sign the deed. it gives you an idea of how small the federal government was.
in this section, which we call the machinery of removal, we a project it was, and how successful it was in one of its goals, to create economic wealth in the united states. catastrophe, to imagine it could do that and that this would be a good thing for american indians. of course it was a disastrous failure. one of the things few people understand is that removal from the passage of the act until the final removal treaties were amended and changed and the final things made out, it actually spend -- it actually extended nine presidential administrations. president jackson wasn't actually the president during the final jury of the trail of tears.
again, it became a huge national policy. it was epic in scope. it involved half of the states routes,nion in removal involved west of the mississippi. it was expensive. it wouldlars estimate be something like $100 million total. it was something that not only affected the south but created economic wealth in new england. cotton was an important commodity on the planet. we are looking at how massive a project this was. orchestrated by a bad president, and the national policy carried .t out
it was epic, it was brutal, it was visionary. decade, thef the wealthiest americans in the has -- was the removal, the removal of the last. to have itself be a region. we focus on the kingdom a lot. it's important to find out that the fine -- to point out that the five civilized tribes were slave states. most indians in those nations didn't own slaves. they were, by law, slave states.
they reinstated slavery when they went into indian territory, and they fought with confederacy. one of the goals has avoid spent to show indians as human, as capable of all the good and evil and with any other kinds of people do. house. an image of the had hundredser who of enslaved persons, and his mansion was based on one by napoleon and france. this is something the museum is taking on to show the complexity of some of this history. successon kingdom's's of building it came at an extraordinarily high cost. the disposition of native americans. even that wealth, even
accessibility on the country. that enslaved labor results in the civil war. , the worst war in american history. the end result of this is something that the country is still coming to terms with. there is an argument to say that indian removal was the most significant event between the american revolution and the civil war. so when american indians arrived a indian territory it's different landscape, a different environment, different situation. i think people from the 1830's would be really surprised if they understood in the 20th -- and the 21st-century come of the
same indian nations would -- 21sttute themselves century, the same indians would reconstitute themselves. they still have a sovereign status. it was in oklahoma -- i was in oklahoma and you see television commercials in the major channels. these are nations that have actual genuine power today. thatave recovered in a way would be shocking to people. that certainly is an element to that they really want to be understood. they not only survived but they prospered in this new place.
the trail of tears is a really famous event. pretty much all americans know that phrase trail of tears. think everyone knows something was bad -- summing that was done to indians, and we know andrew jackson was part of that story. what we found is intended to be seen as a shape of moment in history. we hope to show how it was a much larger event. we operated from what people already think and people already know. so at the concluding section of the exhibit we look at trail of tears in national memory over time. what interesting is the trail of was never forgotten by american indians. but in national memory it faded away pretty quickly.
in the late 19th century, into the first half of the 20th century, it's rarely in textbooks as a major event involving indians. and it's often completely omitted from discussions of the jackson administration area there are many books -- there aren't many books written that touched upon it. is the first thing people think of when they think of president jackson. people are really familiar with that phrase. section we show how that didn't just happen by accident. it was contrary of young indian women in early at the 20th century-- earliest 20th that launched a campaign that started to catch on. woman whoherokee
dressed in clothing. to talk to people about indian removal. the phrase trail of tears caught on. it was not until the 1950's that it started appearing a lot and not until the 60's and 70's that it became well-known. fascinated about how american history changes over time. it's different than how people understood it at other times. we see that the largest national park is the trail of tears national trail.
we see native americans walking and riding through that. allsee motorcycle clubs, kinds of people enjoying that. something that's understood, it is a major event in american history. what we hope this exhibition will do is enlarge the understanding of it. was an epic chapter. it was about national borders, global economies and policies about indians that had an effect long after the move -- long after the removal. me, wellboard behind chose that because we wanted to sort of suggests something visitorsve that has kind of question what they may already think they know about it. they say this is a moment of huge national significance. an unfortunate policy carried
out by a single president. >> you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by visiting our website, c-span.org/history. tv, onup on book afterwards, citizens united president david bossi and former trump campaign manager corey discuss their book, trump's enemies, how the deep state is undermining prompt -- undermining trump's presidency. >> i don't want to be a conspiracy theorist. we refer to many of these people as the november nightclub. they became a fan of president trump the day after he became elected. the likely didn't vote for him on election day. but they found an opportunity to join an administration that was young and inexperienced to
further their own agenda. >> as part of becoming president he listened a lot to republican leaders in washington and took advice from folks that i don't know that he would do that same thing today. transition,ng that the learning curve was incredibly steep. just like it is for every single president of the united states. there is no classes, no degree. >> watch book tv this weekend on c-span two. >> we are at the watkins history museum, where c-span is learning about the city's history. the painting behind me did takes a central air raid on the town that was a significant turning point in the city's history. we take you around the museum to learn more about the raid. >> the civil
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