In my first semester as a history grad student, I remember reading an assigned book that changed my perspective on history forever. Prior to grad school, I had a very basic and foundation building education at that point. Looking back to my undergraduate years in a history program, I realized now how traditional the views and sources were. It wasn’t until I entered my grad school program that I realized how much more open the field of history has been in recent history with its intersectionality and fresh perspectives in modern scholarship.

I had a moment that completely deconstructed my idea of U.S. History when I was participating in our class discussion on Daniel K. Richter’s Facing East from Indian Country. In the book’s introduction, Richter shares a narrative of a moment he had in a St. Louis hotel room overlooking the famous Arch structure and thought to himself what if we viewed U.S. history facing east instead of facing west? That simple perspective shift upended my grade school education and historical upbringing as a young student. No longer was the story driven and told simply from the powerful and oppressive sources. The victims of the powerful were now being told that there was value to their stories and provide a fuller understanding of history.

Richter shares the historical problem of the lack of primary sources from American Indians but still attempts to share a narrative with their perspectives at the center. He uses an unconventional method of sourcing to achieve his goals and provides an alternative history that highlights the pain and brokenness that European colonization has caused in North America. As an educator and historian, I am inspired by Richter’s work and methodology and I hope to create learning experiences for my students that will not only inform them of the traditionally missing voices in history but also share with them the new ways that the field of history has been trying to create a fuller, more accurate and balanced history that will hopefully inspire them to do the same in their futures.

– Michelle Lukacs (Social Studies Secondary Teacher)