Disney and History


The Disney Corporation recently took it upon themselves to rewrite several historical records, most notably the history of American Indians (The Deerslayer) and their part in the lives of early settlers (Pocahontas). Since much of the content of these movies digressed from what we have learned in school, how can one determine which story is accurate? James Fenimore Cooper(1789-1851) is one of the best on-the-scene writers for this history. He knew the people from whom his characters are modeled, and at the least, was living during some of the same time periods, so he had many first-hand accounts from which to draw. Cooper is the author of The Deerslayer, an historical romance novel about a hunter/trapper in the Delaware Indian territory. This was Cooper’s home, and the situations he described were personal. So which version would you choose to be the more accurate-Disney’s or Cooper’s? The pervading message of the Disney versions is that all American Indians were peace-loving, environmentally friendly people who just wanted to be left alone. Their version paints the settlers as hostile “takeover agents” hacking and antagonizing their way into the Americas. Before you buy into that version, read the original work. Cooper paints a very different story. His works clearly point out that Indians and settlers were both good and bad. In his original writings, he often refers to “hostile Indians raiding the frontiers” and uses other descriptions like “savages” and openly describes the unprovoked Iroquois slaying of many settlers and even of other tribes (The Deerslayer, chapter one/original, unabridged). He gives credit to the Delaware Indians for their more diplomatic approach and their befriending of the Settlers. They were one of the tribes curiously interested in the ways of the settlers. Cooper also shows the hostilities of the settlers (mostly from fear) toward the Indians, particularly from the British and French troops to the north. How insulting it is to have a modern re-writer (Disney) of a first-hand account decide that the original history is not valid because it deviates from their perception of how it ought to be.