Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, delivered the Third Annual William C. Canby Jr. lecture, “Will the White Man’s Indian Ever Die?” at the College of Law at ASU on Jan. 28.
He states that Indians have always been more defined by others than by themselves since their first encounter with Europeans. “It is the human inclination to dominate that is so troublesome,” Gover said. “And defining another, well, I can’t imagine a more complete domination, at least psychologically.”
Gover said that when Indians aren’t excluded from American history, they are considered as an afterthought.
“Indians are too often represented as uncivilized, and that it is either inevitable or necessary that they be removed from the path of progress,” Gover said. “The vast majority of the public has been taught that the Americas were an uncivilized wilderness in 1492. But the Americas were fully occupied in 1492. There were probably as many people here as in Europe in 1492.”