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A UT Arlington Project Is Busting The Anglo-Centric Narrative Of Texas History

Texas State Archives
Part of a tourism program in 1974 on the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation in Polk County. The Alabama and Coushatta tribes were among several to migrate to Texas in the early 1800s. They remained neutral in the Texas-Mexican war.

Texas was a very different place two centuries ago. It was home to roaming tribes and just a few permanent settlements. Researcher Sam Haynes of UT Arlington says it was the most diverse place in North America.

Haynes leads the Center for Southwestern Studies at UT Arlington. He and a team are behind a new project mapping violence involving Native Americans in Texas in the early 19th century.

Interview Highlights: Sam Haynes…

…On the diversity of 19th-century Texas:

“Not only do you find a large Mexican population, but an increasingly large Anglo population, a population of African-American slaves and also Afro-Caribbean slaves. On top of that, you have this remarkably diverse indigenous culture. To understand Native Americans I think you need to look at these tribal cultures individually and in the 19th century, there are two dozen or more distinct tribal cultures.”

…On why the Borderlands project is mapping sites of violence:

“The purpose of the database and website is to track Native American mobility patterns because sadly 

Credit Krystina Martinez/KERA News
Sam Haynes directs UT Arlington's Center for Greater Southwestern Studies.

enough, to understand or track Native American mobility is through their contact with whites and Mexicans, which usually end violently. We have about 300 sites of violence in the database so far. By the time we get up into the 1840s, we should have about 750 sites.

Our website is tracking everything from raids along the Colorado River involving tribes and Anglo settlers to Texas militia groups driving out emigrant tribes under the Mirabeau Lamar Indian removal program.”

…On how Texas history is taught in schools:

“For a very long time, this very Anglo-centric narrative prevailed and I think this is a period that most Texans think can’t be studied anymore. We have learned everything there is to know about Texas in the 19th century, and I would argue that that’s not true at all. We really need to do a better job of incorporating the experiences of people of color into that history.

It’s not enough to insert people of color into that Anglo-centric narrative. I think the thing to do is to start all over again, to rebuild the narrative from the ground up and to understand there are large numbers of people of color who are inhabiting this region the same time Anglo-Americans are.”

Sam Haynes directs the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies at UT Arlington.  

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.