A-level history textbook criticised over 'shocking' Native American question 8 months ago

A-level history textbook criticised over 'shocking' Native American question

The textbook has now been withdrawn.

A youth worker has shared her horror at a question in an A-level history textbook which asked whether the treatment of Native Americans in the late 1800s had been 'exaggerated."


Hannah Wilkinson, who offers history mentoring sessions at Durham Sixth Form Centre, shared the question from the AQA textbook in a tweet, writing that she was "horrified."

She asked: "In what world is this is an acceptable question/exercise to ask students to complete on the history of Native Americans in late 1800s US?"

The textbook - called The Making of a Superpower: USA 1865-1975 - asked students to balance "criticisms of treatment of Native Americans" with "defence" of their treatment in the late 1800s.


It then asked students "to what extent do you believe the treatment of Native Americans has been exaggerated?"

The textbook has now been withdrawn from sale.


Wilkinson told the BBC: "It was deeply shocking to see how ingrained racial injustice is.

"The period we're looking at is a period of American policy where Native Americans were treated terribly.

"The way the textbook framed it suggests that maybe the treatment of Native Americans has been exaggerated."

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Native American tribes were involved in a series of wars with European colonists, which became known as the American-Indian wars. Tribes were also ravaged by diseases brought over from Europe during this period.


Native American population numbers plummeted as a result, and in the 1800s the American government imposed a number of policies targeting Native American populations.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 for example authorized the American government to remove Native American populations from lands they had inhabited for centuries.

A number of historians argue that the treatment that Native Americans faced from colonialists amounts to genocide.

Responding to the initial tweet, Hodder Education said: "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We agree that this content is inappropriate and are going to remove this book from sale. We will conduct a thorough review of the content with subject experts."


A spokesperson for AQA said the exercise in question "doesn't match our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and should never have made it through our process for approving textbooks".

They added: "We know our approval process wasn't always good enough in the past - but we've improved it since then and we do things differently now, including working with external diversity experts and providing better training for our reviewers and staff.

"We contacted the publisher as soon as we heard about this content, and we're pleased they've worked very quickly to put this right."