Winter 2010 • Vol. XXXII No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 2010 |

Reading from Sand Creek

I Whenever I teach Simon J. Ortiz's from Sand Creek (1981), I like to pair it with Bartolomé de las Casas's A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies (1542). The two texts are strikingly similar in their objective to account for the atrocities committed against the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Both bear witness to the historical silence that seals over the death and inequality that is the origin story of the New World. Yet despite being separated by more than four hundred years and diverse geographic locations and cultural traditions, they reflect one another; the same crimes in one are observable in the other, reminding us that the horrors of the past persist unabated in the present. This is what I point out to my students. But I also try to make clear their significant differences. These can be explained by the authors' manner of narrating history. Las Casas's style is bold and direct. He describes the brutal violence he witnesses and reports his experiences

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