Friday, November 25, 2022

Is Thanksgiving a "Myth" or a "Problematic Holiday"? What Nobody Tells You About Indians and Other Native Americans

Every time I hear about the tragedy (the tragedies) suffered by the Indians of North America (whether at Thanksgiving or at any other time), I bring up some variant of the following questions:

Do the calamities also include the theft of the lands of the Apaches? Does the genocide, real or alleged, of the Native Americans also concern the extermination of the Huron tribe (Huronia)?

This type of question usually boondoggles the leftist, whose eyes grow like saucers and who waffles trying to reply, since in his eagerness to sum up American and world history by meting out simplified explanations in one-sentence platitudes (that conveniently, and invariably, happen to be damning towards Americans, i.e., white Americans), he has neither had nor taken the time to think any details through as he attempts to display his alleged expertise as a modern-day genius. The most intelligent leftists will be — rightly — suspecting that the questions are in some way or another some form of trap…

The problem, of course, is that the lands of the Apaches were stolen by the Comanches.

While the Hurons were wiped out by the Iroquois. 

Or, as Allan W Eckert put it regarding another neighboring tribe of the Iroquois (aka the League of the Six Nations of the Iroquois), this one from northwesternmost Pennsylvania,

the Six Nations annihilated [the Erighs or the Eries] — every man, woman, and child being slain, the tribe was wiped out of existence.

But apart from that — apart from those tiny and utterly inconsequential details that we can posthaste proceed to forget and ignore — it is surely indisputable to posit that all "Native Americans" are, and were, spiritual peacemakers in harmony with nature and with the Earth, as well as something akin to Tibet's Buddhist monks. (And with that said, let's turn off the sarcasm faucet…) Update: Hooka Hey to my white brothers Ed Driscoll and Glenn Reynolds and to my white sister Sarah Hoyt.

After conquering the Aztec and the Inca empires, in addition to large parts of South America as well as all of Central America, why did the Spanish armies not march further into North America (where the English had remained along the Atlantic coast while the French were focused on Québec and had barely crossed West across the Mississippi)? 

The answer is the Comanche tribe, which was (I am prepared to apologize for the upcoming un-PC term beforehand) the bloodthirstiest people the Spanish superpower had ever encountered, and which brought the Spaniards' advance to an abrupt halt in Tejas (in Texas).

Indeed, in his position as a military historian and a professor at the Sandhurst Military Academy, John Keegan described the Comanches as the fiercest warriors the planet has ever known. 

Incidentally, what do the names of the Indian tribes mean, anyway? They all mean the same thing (albeit in their respective languages) — the "people." And what was most tribes' names (again, in their respective languages) for their neighbors? The "enemy."

A few examples: The tribe which was called the Navajo by their neighbors (and thus by their enemies) called them selves the Diné, while the Iroquois (the "atrocious people" or the "murderers" — see the paragraph about the Huron tribe above for an explanation thereof) called themselves the Haudenosaunee (the "house builders"). As far as the Comanches are concerned (who call themselves the Nʉmʉnʉʉ), the name is derived from a Ute expression meaning “anyone who wants to fight me all the time” (i.e., the enemy). 

As a brief aside, history recalls most of the tribes' names from what they were called by their neighbors, for the simple reason that white explorers and pathfinders would encounter the neighbors first and ask them the name of the tribe that they would meet when continuing their travels ahead.

Before we continue: here emerges an interesting question — cannot we say that the Native Americans show the extent of their indisputable humanity, as they seem to be quite familiar with that good ol' expression, the (wait for it) "enemy of the people" — just like "civilized" people did and do in Europe and the rest of the developed world (not least with Communists, Nazis, and similar bloodthirsty — please excuse the expression again — groups)?

In that perspective, this provides a response to the common question, isn't it sad that the Indians (such as famous chiefs like Sitting Bull or Crazy Horse or Geronimo) never managed to unite against their white oppressors. The answer is that the quote that is often attributed to Philip Sheridan — "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" (what the general actually said was somewhat different) — would better describe the tribes' description of one another (The only good Sioux is a dead Sioux, etc…) When a group of warriors happened upon a group of enemies (not excluding women out berry-picking), they would kill them all (see also the Little Bighorn) and scalp them all (unless, in some cases, there happened to be young children who could be integrated into the tribe). This explains the "intolerant" attitude of White settlers, explains Time-Life's The Frontiersmen. In the 18th century,

frontiersmen, who had seen the bodies of pregnant women slit open by war parties and the fetuses of unborn babies left impaled on poles beside them, were not inclined to ponder the political attitudes of any Indian if granted opportunity for revenge.
On one memorable occasion, a group of Iroquois marched for days on end to raid another village while the latter's warriors were away (probably on their own raid). They launched their raid, and escaped with booty including a group of young boys as prisoners. When the raided camp's warriors came home a day or so later, the fathers, overcome with grief, immediately set upon chasing down the raiders on their own return home with their young prisoners boasting perhaps 24 hours' advance time. Every time they came to the remains of a camp where the Iroquois had bivouacked, they discovered to their horrors a thick pointed branch stuck into the ground upon which the Iroquois had in turn stuck… the decapitated head of one of the children. Cruelty? Sadism? Simply a form of cultural diversity? You decide…

Did the Indians really kill all of their enemies? No, that is not entirely correct.

Who doesn't know the “trail of tears and death," when Andrew Jackson expelled tens of thousands of Indians from East side of the Mississippi? During one 1,200-mile trek, "thousands … died from exposure, malnutrition, and disease" and the grounds were littered with the bodies of "red-skins" and "Negroes." Wait a minute, what did you say? "Negroes"? Blacks? What do you mean by that?! Oh, you didn't know? The Cherokees, who are often presented as one of prime examples that Indians were, or could be, civilized (they had their own alphabet and newspapers), practiced slavery. Yes sir. And do not forget that a number of these Indians enlisted during the Civil War — on the side of the Confederacy. For sure, this was one of the “Five Civilized Tribes” (besides the Cherokee, the Chickasaw, the Creek, the Seminole, and the Choctaw) and, as it happens, one of the main slavery rebellions and escape attempts of the 19th century was a slave revolt against the cruelty of one particularly nasty Cherokee slave-owner.

Leftists grow giddy over the Cherokees' written constitution, with the National Geographic gushing that America's 1787 document might be based on theirs, but the monthly neglected to write that it gave the vote to "all free male citizens" over 18, except "those of African descent." In his History of the American People, Paul Johnson adds that

White opinion — and black for that matter:  the blacks found the Indians harsher masters than anyone — were virtually united in wanting to integrate the Indians or kick them west, preferably far west
Yup. I know, I know: I'm sorry I brought it up — slavery, as we all know, is only a shameful activity — everything is only a shameful activity — when practiced by Whites and (in the modern era) by capitalists, and never by "Reds" or Blacks (not excluding on the African continent) or for that matter, communists (also Reds, in a way) in China or the Soviet Union, with their slave-based laogais and gulags.

Those are historical facts liberals and Europeans don't know about and do not like to focus on, because if they can't depict the Indians (Edward Curtis' portraits) as harmless, Buddhist-monk-like beings interested in nothing but peace and harmony with the Earth and with the forces of nature — as angelic and innocent victims — it becomes much harder to depict (white) Americans as monstrous beings and their policies (past as well as present) as of a criminal nature beyond any iota of redemption.

The funny thing — which also answers the question regarding Indian unification — is that the various Indian tribes were better treated by the whites than by their "red" neighbors. You can say what you want about Wounded Knee or Sand Creek, or reservations, as well as Indian schools that took their kids away, they were better (or, if you prefer, less badly) treated than what their Indian foes had in store for them.

Thus it was natural that "Injuns" enlisted as scouts in the U.S. Cavalry to serve against their archenemies. In any case, it was such a warrior culture that made whites "reluctant," to say the least, to show "respect" for the Indians and their civilization (or lack thereof?) and which earned the latter, not entirely unreasonable, the moniker of "savages."

At this point, let's take an aside to bring up another historical victim of "Yankee colonialism and racism": when voiced by leftists, the whole Texas Revolution episode amounts to nothing more than "The Mexicans showed how generous they were and look at the scandalous way in which those perfectly civic gentlemen were repaid by the ungrateful Anglo-American ruffians who settled in Texas" (i.e., by the treacherous (former) inhabitants of the racist USA). The main article is What Nobody Tells You About the Alamo and the Texas Revolution of the 1830s.

Those leftists — American or foreign — never pause to ask why the Mexicans would invite foreigners to settle in (part of) their country in the first place. The answer is provided in an Instapundit post linking to the present historical article, where one

no one has mentioned "Comanches" by Fehrenbach, just finished it for a second time and have to say it seems to be the definitive volume on the subject.

• For 200 years the Spanish (and to a lesser extent the French) tried missions offering gifts and Christianity for the Amerindians--an utter failure. They invited Americans to migrate into Texas to act as a buffer to the yearly raids into Mexico.

• Thousands of Texans were murdered and tortured in unspeakable ways for amusement. The Comanches were savage and the Texans returned the favor but most Texas Rangers, stated at some point that they regretted what they did.

It occurred to me that the savage treatment of enemies by the Amerindians had no parallel in written history. Genghis' Khan's men for example would commit mass murder but wouldn't stick around for several days to enjoy the screams of someone staked face down on an anthill. The Amerindians were stone age savages and their ways of treating whites and red captives was, after 30,000 years, stone age norms of behavior unchanged and unchangeable.

Of course, this quotation is not meant to "return the compliment" i,e., to counter "No, the Mexican were the treacherous ones" (because in the minds of leftists, it always boils down to finding guilt and to vilify, to demonize, and to punish).

Everybody involved— the Mexicans, the Anglo-Americans — were perfectly open about and aware of Texas's status as a buffer zone towards Comancheria and the dangers involved in settling there.

Finally: how exactly were the Indians' lands "stolen"? Even today, when a European decides to spend a holiday for a road trip through a country (or parts thereof) with 330 million inhabitants, he is amazed about how large and empty that nation is (even on the East Coast — try driving from the greatest metropolis on the continent, New York City, to Niagara Falls). In the book Under Bjælken about Denmark's Crown Prince and future King, Jens Andersen writes that "that which Frederik and his friend Holger Foss best remember [from their 1993 road trip through the U.S. in a red Cadillac Eldorado Convertible], besides the numerous encounters with helpful and hospitable Americans, was the colossal monotony — mile after mile."

Related: Beginning in the early 19th century, why did one tenth of the Danish population, one quarter of the Swedish population, and one third of the Norwegian population emigrate to the United States? Because so many these "white privileged" blondes with blue eyes were so dirt-poor that they did not want to live in, and did not want their children "to grow up in, slavery."
How, then, would it have been 150 or 250 years ago, when an Irish or German family in a chariot rolled slowly across a territory with 100 times fewer people? Most Indians were nomads and had never established cities or villages. Even for those who could be described differently, such as the Haudenosaunees (the long "house builders," that is, the Iroquois), it was necessary, due to a cultivation practice which ended up destroying the land, to uproot the village after at most 21 years and move it dozens of miles away. (So much for the "image of a Native American environmental ethic [which], however appealing, is more myth than reality.") 

Indeed, back in 1756, Bougainville wrote in his diary that "It is a shame that so fine a countryside should be without cultivation." Many years earlier, the chief agent of the Penn family, James Logan, had heard complaints that "it was against the laws of God and nature that so much land should be idle while Christians wanted it to labor on and raise their bread."

Whether it is Bedouins, Gypsies, or those whom Alexis de Tocqueville called "the wandering race of aborigines," it has always been extremely difficult for nomads to live side by side with settlers. For instance, Indians, Gypsies (or Roma), or Bedouins are, or were, uniformly depicted as thieves. Today, this is automatically considered racist (ain't everything?!), but the universality of the charge should make you pause to think… And then you might come to this conclusion: when you have no permanent neighbors, a cavalier attitude towards those whom you rarely (and only briefly) encounter and towards their possessions — which they happen to have plenty of, precisely due to their not being nomads — then theft might in fact not a wholly illogical by-product of one's way of life. 

From Roman times, at least, it has been a reasonable rule (no, not a white/European rule; an entirely common-sense rule) that you cannot claim land as your own unless you devote a minimum of time inhabiting it and tending to it.

Let us imagine a wagon slowly pulled by oxen in the vast no-man's land. What does the family from Scotland or Sweden encounter day after day, week after week, other than dense virgin forests or monotonous prairies? At one time, the family finds a spot, maybe by a creek, upon which it decides to settle down. Then, perhaps after five or six months after their cabin has been built and their fields plowed without their ever seeing another soul, white or otherwise, is it strange, when a single solitary warrior, perhaps two or three, appear one day and claim that this land belongs to their tribe, that they answer, "But we have done so much to cultivate these plots — can't you just ride around them?"

To this must be added another remark: that it can also sound strange (if not an outright showcase for double standards) that it should be sinful to "steal" and to build upon the (untouched) lands that "belong to" the "noble" Indians, while it feels completely natural to confiscate the developed property (fields, gardens, buildings, mansions, castles, etc) of the white world's yucky "noblemen," and in general try to milk the rich with one tax after another.

Finally, an apology. Or, rather, two apologies. I wish to apologize for the fact that I believe in facts and the truth, and I wish to apologize for the fact that I do not believe in the leftists' hysterical fairy tales.

Let us end this post with quotes from two books. In his History of the American People, Paul Johnson speaks about some of the events leading to the Trail of Tears:

The 15,000 Indians of this settled community [a self-declared Cherokee republic located in New Echota in Georgia] owned 20,000 cattle and 1,500 slaves, like any other 'civilized' Georgians. But its very existence, and still more its constitution, violated both state and federal law, and in 1827 Georgia petitioned the federal government to 'remove' the Indians forthwith. The discovery of gold brought in a rush of white prospectors and provided a further economic motive. The election of General Jackson at the end of 1828 sealed the community's fate. In his inaugural address he insisted that the integrity of the state of Georgia, and the Constitution of the United States, came before Indian interests, however meritorious. 

A man who was prepared to wage war against his own people, the South Carolinians [chief among them John Calhoun], for the sake of constitutional principles, was not going to let a 'utopia of savages' form an anomaly within a vast and growing nation united in a single system of law and government. And, of course, with hindsight, Jackson was absolutely right. A series of independent Indian republics in the midst of the United States would, by the end of the 20th century, have turned America into chaos, with representation at the United Nations, independent foreign policies, endless attempts to overthrow earlier Indian treaties and territorial demands on all their white neighbors.

 … In material and moral terms, assimilation was always the best option for indigenous peoples confronted with the fact of white dominance.  That is the conclusion reached by the historian who studies the fate not only of the American Indians but of the aborigines of Australia and the Maoris of New Zealand.  To be preserved in amber as tribal societies with special 'rights' and 'claims' is merely a formula for continuing friction, extravagant expectations, and new forms of exploitation by white radical intellectuals

The final quote of this post comes from a long passage in John Keegan's Warpaths, which starts with the military historian's remarks on the Indians' incapability "to defend what they held dearest, their freedom to roam as nomads inside territories they did not claim to own but nevertheless sought to use and enjoy by exclusive right":

Little wonder that the European immigrants who made their way onto the Great Plains in the nineteenth century, Slavs of Eastern Europe, Russians from the Steppe, peoples whose history was suffused with memories of oppression by galloping, sword-wielding, slaven, Magyar, Mongol, and Turkish nomads, should have felt so little pity in their hearts for those other Mongoloid nomads whose interest in life seemed to subsist in hunting, pillage, and war.

 … There is much that is tragic in the story of native America's conflict with the European interlopers, particularly in the treatment of the Indians of the temperate forest lands east of the Mississippi by the young republic …

 … Yet the pretensions of the Plains Indians to exclusive rights over the heartland of the continent cannot, it seems to me, stand. Their claim, the claim of less than a million people, to possess territories capable of supporting not only millions more directly settled, but of still more millions outside America waiting to be fed by those territories' product, is the claim not of oppressed primitives but of the selfish rich,

The Plains Indians were indeed primitives; but their primitivism was of the "hard," not "soft," variety. Here were not shy, self-effacing marginalists, like the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, the Semai of the Philippine jungles, or the pygmies of the African rainforests, but proud, warrior nomads, who had taken from the Europeans what they coveted as a means to support their way of life, the horse and the gun, and then refused Europeans any share of the lands which horse and gun equipped them … to exploit. 

• If leftists (U.S. as well as foreign) can't depict the Indians as Buddhist-monk-like beings interested in only peace and harmony, it becomes much harder to depict (white) Americans as monsters
• Sound Familiar? Over Two Centuries Old, and Still Running Strong

Related History Posts:
• What Caused Secession and Ergo the Civil War? Was It Slavery and/or States' Rights? Or Wasn't It Rather Something Else — the Election of a Ghastly Republican to the White House?
• During the Winter of 1860-1861, Did the South's Democrats Obtain Their Aim — the Secession of 7 Slave States — Thanks to Elections Filled with Stealth, Lies, Voter Fraud, Intimidation, Violence, and Murder? (Wait 'til You Hear About… Georgia's Dark Secret)
• Wondering Why Slavery Persisted for Almost 75 Years After the Founding of the USA? According to Lincoln, the Democrat Party's "Principled" Opposition to "Hate Speech"
The Greatest Myth in U.S. History: Yes, the Civil War Era Did Feature Champions of States' Rights, But No, They Were Not in the South (Au Contraire)
• Harry Jaffa on the Civil War Era: For Democrats of the 21st Century as of the 19th, "the emancipation from morality was/is itself seen as moral progress"
• Why Does Nobody Ever Fret About Scandinavia's — Dreadful — 19th-C Slavery Conditions?
• A Century and Half of Apartheid Policies: From Its 1828 Foundation, the Democrat Party Has Never Shed Its Racist Past
• The Confederate Flag: Another Brick in the Leftwing Activists' (Self-Serving) Demonization of America and Rewriting of History
How to Prevent America from Becoming a Totalitarian State
• Inside of a month, Democrats have redefined riots and election challenges from the highest form of patriotism to an attack on democracy — And by “democracy”, they mean the Democrat Party
• Why They Don't Tell You the Whole Truth: The 1619 Project Summarized in One Single Sentence


K T Cat said...

What a fantastic post. Bookmarked for later linking and excerpting.

BajaBert said...

DYNO-MITE! More, please!

Unknown said...

Tell me about the Hawaiian Islands. The "Hawaiian people" want their land back. The U.S. stole our lands. I'm thinking, the "Hawaiian People" did not own land. It was a monarchy. Was the land really "stolen?"

Angus McThag said...

I am wanting to write an alternate history novel set in the old-west.

I started doing research on the Indians because they have a large role in my story.

I've come to the same conclusions as you have here after doing just a surface skim of the materials available.

Something that's got the novel stuck in its tracks is trying to distinguish the Sioux from the evil bastard neanderthal bad-guys I'd created. Every time I decide the bad guys have a practice of something awful to make them OBVIOUSLY the bad guys, I find that Sioux did it in real life.

Anonymous said...

The emptiness of the land surely was noticed by immigrants. I live in Kansas, the Kanza tribe once roamed over 20 million acres of the NE part of now-Kansas. Their highest population is estimated to have been 3,200. That's nearly 10 square MILES for every person.

Anonymous said...

Very good. But I believe that the Cherokee’s were actually dispossessed under Buchanan’s tenure (who botched Jacksn’s actual plan).

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the Ojibwe driving the Dakota Sioux from northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Anonymous said... is a great article about the last slaveholders of North America. The Tlingit people.

Phil Hawkins said...

I was already aware of most of this, because I have been a life-long student of American history. The whole concept of the "Noble Savage" was cooked up by Rousseau, an upper-class Frenchman in the 1700s who never in his life crossed the ocean to check his idea against Reality.

SL said...


Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:41- Van Buren, not Buchanan.

guest said...

The actor, Don Cheedle, was on some sort of an ancestry TV show, and he learned that his ancestors were not freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, because they were held by Native Americans, and the proclamation didn't cover the tribes.

You don't know Jack said...

Excellent post, Author.
My ancestors were sodbusters who survived on the plains of Western Kansas in the late 19th century. I was raised in Kansas before WWII and have lived there and Texas all of my life.
The blessing of being raised in Kansas was that it was an abolitionist state and i was not raised in the racial prejudice that existed in the post slavery South.
You have supplied me with a lot of information i was not aware of and I appreciate it.
What i do not understand are your slurs toward all left leaning patriots. Why do you think only the left is unaware of this history or are the only ones not interpreting it incorrectly?
Kind regards.

TMLutas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TMLutas said...

The ultimate solution is to create an open source project with a list of all the tribes, their lands, how they got them all the way back so far as we can and to list the remaining outstanding claims if any. Ideally, you'd have a phone app that would identify the history of the land you are on so that the shallow guilt-mongers could be immediately confronted with real history instead of just so stories.

Until I find a better project, I decided to just make one.

Beans said...

One of the reasons that the Europeans were able to gain a foothold on this continent was that the said peaceful, funloving, environmentally pure natives were in the middle of a 500 year long 'world war' full of death, doom, destruction, enslavement, murder, killing, robbing, death, doom, destruction.

And their concept of agriculture was primitive to say the least. The European crop rotation system was so much more efficient. But in whole areas of the eastern seaboard, the land was semi-barren due to poor land management and lack of 'modern' fertilization (modern for the 1600's that is.)

Yeah, great eco-loving nobles. Bunch of fun-loving murdering raping and slaving good people who never raped nor murdered nor enslaved nor... well, yeah.

levin said...

Great post. I wasn't aware of the fate of the Eries and Hurons.

If I could impose required reading in US high schools, I would include
"Conquistador Voices: The Spanish Conquest of the Americas as Recounted Largely by the Participants".

Keven H. Siepel is the author and U.S. history professor.

It includes first person writings of Columbus and Cortes and their

Columbus first landed on the Bahamas and encountered the Lucayan
tribes. The Lucayans would raid other islands capture young women
and take them as sex slaves, while murdering the rest. They practiced
cannibalism on their victims, including new born males that were offspring
of the sex slaves.

When Cortes encountered the Aztecs, he was amazed at the technological
sophistication of the engineering of Tenochtitlan (i.e. now Mexico City).
Cortes asserted it surpassed engineering of Venice and other European cities.

The open air markets included produce including life men and woman captured
from distant primitive tribes. They were caged, sold, and ritually slaughtered
and eaten by citizens living in the capitol. Drumstick anyone?

So in the 16th century you had systemic cannibalism and human sacrifice.

I've yet to get a date as when cannibalism died off in Europe. If it existed
it seems to predate recorded history (i.e. earlier than 3000 B.C.). The last of legal human
sacrifice seems to be the Christians in Rome. I guess one can make the argument
that the Holocaust and Armenian genocide falls into the same bucket. But they
were aberrations that were not reflective of the norms of Western civilization.

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed that you did not mention the charming Comanche habit of publicly gang-raping their Apache female captives before they sold them to the Spanish at the Taos trade fairs (the Spanish called it rescate or redemption, and I don’t blame them). See “Comanche Empire” by Pekka Hamalinen around page 45.