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George Rogers Clark is considered an American hero. Historians have written about his daring exploits. Teachers have told his story in their classrooms for generations. Countless monuments and historic sites bear his name. He is portrayed as an American patriot and great Indian fighter. All true—if you look only from the white man’s perspective. However, we must always remember history is not one-sided. It is complex, with many, many perspectives to consider.
Clark lived in a turbulent time. America, seeking independence, was engaged in a bloody conflict with the British. And caught in the middle were tribes of Native Americans. It was a time when their way of life and surroundings were being reevaluated through a critical European eye. Years among the whites had taken a tragic toll.
Some tribes fought with the Americans, some with the British. But despite whose side they were physically fighting on, tribes were actually fighting for life itself. A life that allowed them to choose where to live, hunt, raise their families, and bury their dead according to their own beliefs and traditions.
When you read the story of Clark, Indians are presented as “savages.” The truth is, it was a savage time when men of all these nations were fighting for what they believed in. Ironically, they really all wanted the same thing—to live their lives in peace and freedom. They just couldn’t do it together.