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  • Christine Stevens

HOW THE WEST WAS DONE


William Bonney a.k.a. Billy the Kid (circa 1881)


August 4, 2020

history.com

This Day in History

re: Westward Expansion


Hi,

I enjoy these history tidbits each day, dropped into my email inbox like an assortment of mental appetizers for the easily distracted.

A suggestion for your category ‘Westward Expansion.’ In light of the changes and reckonings of our racist roots and systemic abuse of marginalized groups, you might consider changing that category to something like “Federally Mandated Displacement of Indigenous People by White European Immigrants.” Bulky, but more accurate.


Thanks for considering this!

Christine Stevens


August 9, 2020

history.com

This Day in History

re:FMDIPWEI


Hi!

I noticed you haven’t responded to my suggestion about changing the name of your category ‘Westward Expansion’ that I sent on August 4. So just in case it got lost in the email, I’m sending it again. Here goes!


I enjoy these history tidbits each day, dropped into my email inbox like an assortment of mental appetizers for the easily distracted.

A suggestion for your category ‘Westward Expansion.’ In light of the changes and reckonings of our racist roots and systemic abuse of marginalized groups, you might consider changing that category to something like “Federally Mandated Displacement of Indigenous People by White European Immigrants.” Bulky, but more accurate.


Thanks for considering this!

Christine Stevens


August 11, 2020

history.com

This Day in History

re:FMDIPWEI


Hi, it’s me again. I’m the person who is writing to suggest you rename your category ‘Westward Expansion’ to something more accurate. I admit, my suggestion of replacing it with “Federally Mandated Displacement of Indigenous People by White European Immigrants” is both too long and too honest.


And while todays' little knowledge nugget about the Lewis and Clark Expedition was kinda interesting - didn’t remember getting taught that Meriwether Lewis was shot in the butt on a hunting expedition by a partially blind AND nearsighted member of his “Corps of Discovery” (another name, that, given hindsight could use a little tweaking; maybe something like the “This Land is Our Land and by ‘Our’ We Mean the Recently Arrived White Male Europeans Even though We Don’t Really Know How Much Land is Out Here but We’re Sure as Hell Gonna Find Out Discovery Team” (I know, that one definitely needs some editing) - I was amazed by the fact that Lewis tried to, at first, pin the shooting on a Native American. Wow. No words.


And if you’re going to say “Louisiana Purchase” then I’m going to say “Shady French guy selling a stolen watch in a dark alley.”


So I would love to enter into a conversation with you about alternate titles to replace ‘Westward Expansion.’ What do you think, given our current examination of our history of both enslaving humans and our theft of native lands, would be a better, more accurate categorization? Here’s another possibility: ‘Westward Conquest.’ Short and not-so-sweet, but true.


Let me know what you think.


Thanks,

Christine


August 17, 2020

history.com

This Day in History

re:My previous 3 emails


Hello, it’s me, again, the lady with the Westward Expansion category problem…to be clear, my problem is with the title as it misrepresents our American imperialism and the wholesale slaughter and displacement of indigenous peoples and sounds instead, like ‘look at all this free land, it must belong to us white people - Westward Ho!’


I’ve made a few suggestions for a replacement name, the first was rather long, the second I think is a winner - ‘Westward Conquest’ - and easy because you’d only have to change one word! Another idea, maybe a little more exciting and almost sounds like a movie title or a reality tv show: ’The Great American Land Grab.’ What do you think?


Also, I’d like to point out in today's Westward Expansion story about Billy the Kid, describing him as “…William Bonney...is better remembered today...perhaps because he appeared to be such an unlikely killer. Blue-eyed, smooth-cheeked and unusually friendly…” just feels a little bit icky using the 'blue-eyed’ descriptor as a way to support him appearing as an unlikely candidate for the job of murderer. Do I need to elaborate?


Since I haven’t had any response to my 3 previous emails, I thought I’d just give it another try - must be that pioneer spirit buried deep in my DNA!


Happy to turn this into a two way conversation at any time!


Best,

Christine Stevens




by Christine Stevens

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