Professor pens early Native history


ULM Hawkeye

Native Americans have a long history that continues still today. When Andrew Davidson of Wiley-
Blackwell approached Roger Carpenter about writing a textbook for its Native American series, he took the chance to pen three centuries of their history.

Carpenter’s textbook “Times Are Altered With Us” tells the story of Native Americans pre-1800s.

Carpenter, an associate history professor, said it was challenging to fit 300 years into a couple hundred pages because textbooks do have page limits despite what one might think when visiting the bookstore.

A lot of planning went into the book such as how many pages per chapter, how many chapters and space for illustrations. Then a decision was made on what to leave out and what to detail.

“It’s taking something that happened four or 500 years ago and translating it into a form where people reading it today can understand,” Carpenter said.

It’s a history writer’s job to take an event “described in really dry terms and realize this is actually really interesting stuff,” Carpenter said.

He said the history professors are always learning things from each other.

Monica Bontty, associate history professor, said it’s been an honor to work with Carpenter.

“Sometimes I’ll talk to Bontty and she might mention something about ancient Egypt that I knew nothing about,” Carpenter said.

But Carpenter hit a bump in the road while trying to get the textbook done.

After a problem with his computer and a quick trip to the Geek Squad, he lost a year’s worth of work on “Times Are Altered With Us.”

He was halfway done with the book and had to start over. Geek Squad had to replace his hard drive and the book couldn’t be recovered. They gave him his old hard drive back.

“As if I really wanted this thing,” said Carpenter. “Here is your little reminder about why you should save stuff to the cloud. But I got it done.”

Carpenter had a good time writing it and said we owe a lot of things we do today to the Native Americans of the past.