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Textbook that asked if treatment of Native Americans was 'exaggerated' is recalled

A textbook published by Hodder Education asks students whether treatment of Native Americans was "exaggerated." The textbook is no longer being sold, Hodder said.
A textbook published by Hodder Education asks students whether treatment of Native Americans was "exaggerated." The textbook is no longer being sold, Hodder said.

A textbook on U.S. history that published a question of whether treatment of Native Americans was "exaggerated" has now been recalled, the publishing company Hodder Education said.

The page of the textbook had a picture of two scales that are balanced. One side says "Criticisms of treatment of Native Americans" and the other says "Defence of the treatment of Native Americans." The question posed below is, "To what extent do you believe the treatment of Native Americans has been exaggerated?"

The question was brought forth on Twitter by Hannah Wilkinson, who mentors history students in the United Kingdom. She says the textbook is The Making of a SuperPower: USA 1865-1975.

"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? Actually horrified," Wilkinson tweeted.

"We agree that this content is inappropriate and are going to remove this book from sale," the publisher of the textbook Hodder Education tweeted back, "We will conduct a thorough review of the content with subject experts."

It is not clear how many of the textbooks have already been distributed to educators.

'This content doesn't match our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and should never have made it through our process for approving textbooks," a spokesperson from AQA, which determines education standards in the United Kingdom, told NPR in a statement.

"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," the AQA spokesperson said.

Paul Cherry, publishing director at Hodder Education, said in an email to NPR that the company recognizes some of the content in the textbook is "inappropriate" and "should be re-considered to make it as sensitive and accurate as possible."

European colonizers and Americans killed tens of millions of Native Americans in violent wars and through diseases they carried in what was an American genocide. Through government policy, officials pushed Native communities off their land and forced them into boarding schools that erased Native culture and language.

This isn't the first time Hodder Education has faced criticism over textbook content that is culturally insensitive and racist. In 2018, Huffington Post published a story revealing that one of Hodder's sociology textbooks said Caribbean fathers were "largely absent."

That textbook, released in 2014, was also approved by AQA.

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