What was Howard Zinn's point of view in Chapter Seven of A People's History of the United States (“As Long as the Grass Grows and Water Runs”) and how was he biased?

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Howard Zinn feels that the Native American population was oppressed and violated by a small group of elites operating in the white government of the United States.  This is especially true after the Louisiana Purchase by Thomas Jefferson and the westward expansion of whites.  Zinn carefully outlines a systematic effort by the U.S. government to occupy Native American lands through broken promises, unfair treaties, and forced displacement.  Violence was often used against Native Americans to secure the economic goals of westward expansion.

Zinn is an unabashed Marxist and is not ashamed to report history through this lens. This is evident in this chapter and throughout his books.  Because of his disdain of capitalism he points to an economic motive of the United States while dismissing other motives that pointed towards progress and the ideas of Manifest Destiny. Zinn points to repeated acts of violence perpetrated by the U.S. government on the indigenous population, but fails to mention acts of violence by Native American groups.  In most of the book, but especially in this chapter, Zinn explains American history as an effort by a small group of elites to exploit weaker groups in society.  By doing this, he fails to mention how these weaker groups have benefited from the actions of the elite.

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