New article: Making Peace with America’s History By Honoring Both Indigenous and European Traditions

By Steve McIntosh

I argue that the Biden administration’s push to mandate the inclusion of “traditional indigenous ecological knowledge” in Federal policymaking opens the door for greater respect and inclusion of “traditional European social knowledge.” Both kinds of traditional knowledge can be respected and safely included by using a liberal approach.

But does acknowledging our nation’s crimes against its indigenous peoples imply that America is morally illegitimate? No. To correctly interpret our history, we must hold in mind two contending truths about what it means to be an American: First, the European conquest of North America resulted in the unjust destruction of indigenous cultures. And second, the emergence of the American nation is one of the most positive events in all of human history. Although these two truths about America exist in tension, each points to the need to honor specific kinds of traditional knowledge. It’s by wrestling with tensions such as these—working for a cultural synthesis wherein both kinds of traditional knowledge can be honored—that American culture can grow out of its debilitating culture war.

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