Rights, conflict, and removal: depictions of Indigenous groups in Californian and Texan history textbooks, 1836-2019

Formal schooling in the U.S. has a long and violent history towards Indigenous peoples, today morphing into exclusion and erasure. Using a novel longitudinal dataset of U.S. textbooks (n = 193) from California and Texas, published from 1850 to 2019, we seek to shine light on the issue through a comprehensive analysis of depictions of Indigenous peoples in high school history textbooks. Despite extensive violence, over time, we find parallel increases in mentions of Indigenous rights in the two states. We complement this longitudinal analysis with a detailed snapshot of the linguistic nuances in a sub-set of the contemporary books in the sample (n = 33) via natural language processing (NLP). We again observe similar patterns between states, but we find that most of the discourse sentiment is negative and focused on historic conflicts with the state and settlers. Although rights are mentioned, it is only in passing discussions. Our findings illustrate that the rise of liberal narratives of equality still permit a high degree of marginalization of minorities. Further, the similarities between states supports theories that view the production of this curricular content is primarily a product of national or global processes.