By: Alec Wilcox
This weekend I had the opportunity to visit Mt. Vernon and the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. These locations were places that I had never been before, and they reminded me of historic details that are easily forgotten.
Mt. Vernon was incredible. The Washington Estate was expansive and very high-class. The main house looked over the Potomac River and still does to this day, hopefully it can remain this way. The Washington’s farmed, gardened, took care of animals, and had many other business ventures. Unfortunately it is easy to forget how having their hands dipped into so many baskets was possible, free labor. This free labor was in the form of slaves. While looking at the majesty of the Washington Estate, thinking about the amount of slave labor that went into building and maintaining this estate was uncomfortable. It was also necessary since I, like many other individuals, often forget this important historical fact.
On Sunday I got the opportunity to visit the Museum of the American Indian. Despite this being my third time in Washington DC, I had never been to this museum. The American Indians epitomize a forgotten people. As the museum conveys, they were on the land first and through agreements that were or were not fair, they now are subject to very small areas of the country, and are relatively forgotten.
When we Americans look across this great land it is so easy to pay attention to the majesty of the country. However it is uncomfortable to consider that we acquired much of this great land through means that left the American Indian population significantly worse off, than they were before the American expansion occured. This lack of comfort makes forgetting this important aspect of history, easy.
The moral of this story is that all history is important to know. As George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Not only is remembering history important so that it is not repeated, it is important so that we pay honor and respect to those who were a part of this history, such as the slave and the American Indian.