Library of Congress/Wikipedia
“The Custer Fight” by Charles Marion Russell. Lithograph. Depicts Battle of the Greasy Grass (known as a number of other names) from the Indian side. How much about Native history do you know?

Politically Challenged, Indian Style: Can You Answer 12 Native History Questions?

Steve Russell

PoliTech, a student project at Texas Tech University, conceived a project nicknamed “Politically Challenged” that has been causing great hilarity across social media and has racked up over two million views on YouTube. Using the roving microphone format on campus, the Tech students asked fellow students the following stumpers:

Who won the Civil War?

Who is Vice President of the United States?

Who did the United States gain independence from?

In what year did the United States gain independence?

The university students found the following much easier:

What television show is Snooki on?

Who is Brad Pitt married to?

Who was Brad Pitt married to before?

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) a yearly survey that bills itself “the nation’s report card,” found that only 18 percent of U.S. eighth graders were proficient in history in 2014, a number that has not improved since 2010.

After we got up from our roll on the floor laughing about the Texas Tech project, the truth sunk in that Indians are always complaining about public ignorance of our history when the evidence is that most kids don’t know their own history—which is also ours from a different point of view. How could they know another culture’s point of view if they don’t know the narrative as understood by their own culture?

What if, we wondered, the same kind of test asked fairly easy questions about Indian history? How would those white and black students do? To be honest, we would also have to ask how Indians—both students and adults—would do if questioned about their history?

For anyone who wants to test their friends or themselves, we offer a dozen questions on history asked from the Indian point of view.

True or False?

1. There were no cities in the Americas before white people built them.

2. The Pilgrims arrived in North America just in time to save hungry Indians from starvation by introducing scientific farming methods.

3. Chief Seattle founded Starbuck’s

Multiple Choice

4. If you were at West Point teaching a very basic course in cavalry tactics as understood in 1876, you might say that George Armstrong Custer lost his last engagement because of what tactical error?

a. Engaging when his assignment was reconnaissance.

b. Splitting his command in the face of a superior force.

c. Ignoring the best intelligence available, which led him to underestimate his adversaries.

d. All of the above.

5. What explorer of the American West discovered that wind and water had carved the heads of U.S. Presidents on Mount Rushmore?

a. John C. Frémont

b. Kit Carson

c. Davy Crockett

d. none of the above

6. The Greasy Grass Fight is known in American history as:

a. the Battle of New Orleans

b. Tippecanoe

c. Custer’s Last Stand

d. the triumph of F Troop

7. Who was on the other side of what the history books call the French and Indian War?

a. New Jersey

b. Georgia

c. Texas

d. Great Britain

8. The famous Cherokee George Guess aka Sequoyah invented:

a. 4-wheel drive

b. helicopters

c. a writing system

d. the automatic transmission

9. The Three Sisters are:

a. Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Betty McGlown

b. Pocahontas, Sacajawea, and Sarah Winnemucca

c. corn, beans, and squash

d. Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw

10. Which of the following would have been associated with the phrase “ethnic cleansing” if the phrase had existed at the time?

a. The Potawatomi Trail of Death.

b. The Navajo Long Walk.

c. The Cherokee Trail of Tears.

d. all of the above

11. Which American military leader commanded the colonial forces in the third great battle with the Seminole Nation that resulted in the defeat of the combined forces of the Seminoles and the African-American escaped slaves being sheltered by the Seminoles?

a. Andrew Jackson

b. Stonewall Jackson

c. Michael Jackson

d. none of the above

12. Name either three of the Six Nations or two of the Five Tribes?



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moonlion's picture
Submitted by moonlion on
Very pleased to be able to report that I could answer all the questions correctly, and name all the tribes of the Six Nations and the Five "Civilized" Tribes. All this information would also have been covered in every 5th grade American History class I ever taught, even when it had to be brought into class in addition to the limited, incorrect, and sometimes just plain racist, information included in the approved textbook for the class.