Education | Opinion

Steven Newcomb: Museum hides truth about invasion of tribal land






A replica of the San Salvador in San Diego, California. Photo: Loren Chipman

Should students learn the truth about the taking of Native lands by European explorers? Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute wonders why the San Diego Maritime Museum isn't sharing the full story:
The San Diego Maritime Museum has accomplished a noteworthy feat by spending millions of dollars and expending thousands of man hours to build a replica of a Spanish military reconnaissance ship called “San Salvador.” The ship’s name translates in English as, “Holy Savior,” a title that the Christian world gave to Jesus Christ. In other words, the San Diego Maritime Museum has built a military ship named after Jesus Christ, “the prince of peace,” a ship originally built with the intention of invading Native nations in the spirit of the Christian Crusades against non-Christians.

Unfortunately, however, the San Diego Maritime Museum has not shown a comparable amount of interest in building a school curriculum that provides students with an accurate historical context of that historical period. Back in 2009, the San Diego Maritime Museum said that its replica of the “San Salvador” would increase the museum’s capacity for teaching living history programs. It further said that the ship’s “most critical mission” is to provide thousands of area school children with a “passage to the past.” An excellent idea, in theory.

The implication seems clear: The Maritime Museum plans to provide school children with important and accurate information about the historical period of the ship San Salvador. Yet the question arises, what kind of information are students learning from the San Diego Maritime Museum? What seems equally important, however, is the historical information which the museum refuses to include in its lesson plans.

Read More on the Story:
Steven Newcomb: The History the San Diego Maritime Museum Does Not Teach (Indian Country Today 1/20)