Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rethinking American history

The more I read about colonial history the more I am convinced that our fashionable cartoon versions are out of date. For years the narrative has fluctuated between the super patriot myth
and the Marxist born in sin cartoon.

I want to point out that there were real crimes committed against Indians in the founding of the country. However, the Indians were not proto hippie commies who lived in ways similar to Mazzola commercials. Like us they had their own issues and were capable of crimes against weaker tribes.This is not intended as justification of the crimes, but to view events in a more realistic light.

Native Americans societies acted in their own interests. The Algonquin had their French Allies led by Champlain attack their enemies. The Iroquois attacked smaller tribes and wiped out a few. The Oneida took in the Tuscarora refugees. The Mohawks and Joseph Brandt were ties to the Crown by both family and financial ties. Both sides committed atrocities against each other.

The true history is of people with motives and tribes acting in their own interests. The colonials and the Native Americans were more like us than we presume.


Alligator said...

"The colonials and the Native Americans were more like us than we presume."

Very well put Beak. As a historian I can say unequivocally we tend to oversimplify and overly romanticize the past. We also have a lot of present-ism going on; where we project our current ideals and values on the past to show how much more "enlightened" and "superior" we are than past generations or civilizations.

This usually expresses itself in terms like, "If I had lived back then, I wouldn't have acted that way" Well, you probably would have. I like to think that I wouldn't hate Indians or been pro-slavery if I had been born 175 years earlier, where I live. But the truth is, I almost certainly would have held those attitudes which prevailed in society at that time.

Human behavior was just as complex and sometimes as messy in the past as it is now. Economic, political and military alliances rose and fell to meet actual or perceived "needs" just as they do now. This was as true of American Indian people as it is of European people. At the end of the day, we are all human beings despite our cultural differences.

I forgot all about the Mazola Indian commercial....!!!

CM said...

Don't forget about the fake indian with a wig and a tear drop!

He came thru the Lawton Indian Hospital years ago in his buckskin finery and we were young and in awe of him, but though he was fake, he actually was honoring us by supporting the way way he believed Indians were in the past, stewards of the Lands. The little Indian Maiden still sits on the grocery shelf, she is too expensive for me, I end up with less fatty fake stuff!

I am in Phoenix this week attending an Elders conference and relaxing in the Fort McDowell luxury Hotel and Casino!!!!!

Still reading here, and the Fake Indian site, that failed his streaming as he says "FIRST EVER HISTORICAL STREAMING OF THE COMANCHE NATION".
Gotta give him credit though, he brags on himself even when he fails, but he never tells the whole truth.


Alligator said...


Oh yes that Espera Oscar de Corti aka "Iron Eyes Cody" He started appearing ion movies in 1930 as an Indian. Cody married an Indian woman and adopted Indian children. Really I don't think that almost until the time of his deat at age 91, no one knew he wasn't Indian himself.

From what I understand, in his youth Italian-Americans suffered disdain and persecution in Louisiana. So he was drawn more towards Native cultures to find solace and that eventually became his life.

I recall he used to have a museum and donated to a lot of Indian causes and charities. Some NDNs weren't too happy when they found out he was not Indian. But I think his heart and intentions really was to help Indian people. For many years I thought he was the real deal, the way he spoke and carried himself off screen and his portrayals (those I remember) honored native people.

That is neat that you are at an Elders conference. I presume different tribes are involved? Will you see Naiche there?

Anonymous said...

In a general sense, most assumption of Native people, their cultures, and behaviors, come from non-Indians. Historically, they've either been viewed as "Noble Savages" (one with nature, completely perfect creatures of peace) or as "Ignoble Savages" (completely devoid of civilization and prone to warfare constantly). For an excellent examination into non-Indian construction of "Indians," I recommend the book "The White Man's Indian" by Robert Berkhofer.

Non-Indians, with these two completely unrealistic stereotypes in mind, have reacted with interest or disdain when their own artificially constructed stereotypes don't live up in reality. It's also true that Indians having been culturally diverse actors in their own right, with their own agendas and histories, doesn't excuse the monstrous carnage that ensued since colonization.

For instance, you never hear that genocide of the Armenians, in Darfur, or against Jews and Roma is somehow less monstrous because, well "they were human and acted naughty amongst each other at times." Excusing grotesque violence against people because they also acted as all cultures do at times is inexcusable. I don't mean to sound like a jerk but I've come across so many people, that when exposed to the diversity and level of civilization that existed throughout the Americas before Europeans arrived, they somehow find this fact reason enough to excuse the atrocities and dispossessions that ensued. "Indians did it to themselves before we did, so it's all good."

And to be historically accurate, present-ism must be avoided. Historical contexts as well as cultural ones. I think of slavery on this issue. Once upon a time, it was fashionably acceptable to see Greco-Roman slavery as less severe than American style chattel slavery. Historians and pundits galore were content with this obvious truth that not all forms of slavery were patterned after the chattel vareity. Greco-Roman slavery allowed eventual freedom and was not necessarily "race"-based.

A funny thing occurred when this same phenomenon was applied to indigenous forms of slavery, both in the Americas and West Africa. The evidence is that slavery in these societies were similar to ancient forms in the Mediterranean (some social mobility). However, most people, upon finding out that forms of slavery existed in the Americas, are only too happy to equate this as though it were exactly like chattel slavery, making Indian people as evil and bad as some of their white counterparts. Don't get me wrong, forced servitude of any variety would not have been fun, but I just find it odd how any new knowledge of Native peoples' pasts is so often used to sanitize colonialism. I'm not including Beak in that, but am simply commenting on what I've observed in my experiences overall.


CM said...


I could be standing right next to Naiche and not know it! Lots of Indians all shapes and sizes and colors and dress, right in the middle of civilization, at a resort, now how special is that??? I am loving it! Today was registration and we were free the afternoon, so we visited a relative at the Mayo Hospital. Tomorrow the madness begins....

You know, Indians just want to be Indians living in the modern world yet still wanting to learn about each others cultures and gathering information from each other in our own way. Not explooiting each other and not made up as to sound glamorous, pristine, or the opposite...filthy, dirty savages. This is real Indians talking to real Indians about their lifes' experiences.

Everyone has their own preference for beauty, I think the Native American Indian is a beautiful specimen of a human. If we allow and accept each others characteristics and ancestry, and spread the TRUTH, the world would be a far better place to raise those that really matter....our children.

I found a beautiful framed picture of an Apache baby with a real feather inserted, I will get as a gift to our Social Servce Department, can't remember the quote but it was in Honor of the Child.

Gotta go antiques road show is on for 3 minute already!


Alligator said...

Forced servitude in European cultures generally supported someone's lifestyle (e.g. the folks living in the castle or the mansion on the plantation.) In the case of North American Indians, there was not much of an "elite" lifestyle to support. Everyone pretty much pitched in equally or the entire clan or tribe suffered the consequences. Captives were usually adopted into the tribe, to replace relatives lost to disease or war. Warriors were rarely taken alive and if so, they seldom expected to live long.

From what I've learned, adoption had deep spiritual significance to it. Once people went through the ceremony, they seem to have accepted their new identify and family. I am speaking very broadly here, but this is what I have found in my research of the central woodlands and western plains cultures. A perfect example is the Iroquois League. They continually replenished their numbers by adopting subjugated tribes into their ranks. Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide to Lewis & Clark had been taken captive as a girl by the Hidatsa. The Hidatsa still claim her as one of their own and point out that when the expedition met the Shoshone, Sacagawea made no effort to return to them. Her own brother was a leading headman, and no one could have prevented her return. But her life had changed and she accepted it, and it was certainly no harder living with the Hidatsa than with her own people.

In the case of large city-states such as those of the Maya, Aztecs Incas and Mississippians, slavery in the form we think of may have been more prevalent. These civilizations had large agricultural based economies, cities and evidence of a caste system. Slavery may have been more feasible for growing food, building programs, etc. But I'm not aware of any hardcore evidence of that type of slavery in those cultures.

The Europeans changed the concept of "slavery" at least among North American tribes. For example, the French paid tribes like the Illinois, Osage, Missouria and Kansa to capture Pawnee and Plains Apache for slaves. These people were then sold to plantations in Louisiana, the West Indies. The "surplus" sold to the English in the Carolinas. This was a breech of law, since England was France's enemy. However corrupt colonial officials and courier des bois cared for little else than profits. The Jesuits decried the situation because traders were constantly stirring up inter-tribal warfare to get slaves. And everyone thinks the French were great friends of the Indians.

The Spanish in the southwest turned many Indians into slaves on their haciendas. But to their credit, when they took over Louisiana Territory in 1767, they ended the slave trade started by the French. The issue of "Indian slavery" is really complex and hard to deal with on a blog.

Anonymous said...

I do move about like the Wind this time it is new mexico but I will be back and FYI since the duo of lunacy is crying for attention and it seems I get a big headache from LOL on the antics or the lunacy but degreed BREEDS, yet they too have a purpose what the hell It is who knows or who cares cept jackboot types oh well ta ta and no one knows where Naiche will show up maybe in SD to give someone a surprise

beakerkin said...

All former Bad Eagle posters.

The truth is that a forum is only as good as the people there. Bad Eagle is finnished and there is not much reason to visit.

Batty Ann is crying for attention as there is nobody to discuss any ideas with. Pretty much Yeagley is off his meds and his pathological obsessions have rendered him into a cartoon.

The truth is all of us were window dressing for the worst common denominator. We could read brilliant comments by the people here and lose track of who and what
Yeagley is.

Pretty much his site is largely dead. It was a great idea, but Yeagley is a deeply disturbed man who is just not as smart as he imagines himself to be.

One more thing Batty Ann. You are free to play by yourself at Bad Eagle. The site is finnished but the reason for its demise has nothing to do with you.

Yeagley is a hate filled imbecile
who really should be seeking professional help.

CM said...

The bag loves me.... and she loves Beak since she stated she still reads here.

Can a stalker on the net be sued? I asked yeagley time and time again to not publish my real name, yet he still does it, maybe he really does love moi!

The liar is yeagley, batty ann. A bitch is one with no father, I believe. I had both loving married parents. I was NOT(like you) put in an orphanage at a young age as betty ann owens gross was, my parents were not alcoholics. Every ugly statement against me by bag is yeagleys' lies he's told her....she spreads them for him!

I hope those who claim to be visiting betty ann owens gross does it soon, I'am getting pretty tired of being stalked on the net. The list is getting longer baggy should watch your mouth and back!!!! I can handle yeagley here at home!


Alligator said...

Beak, I think you know when I talk about Indian peoples and cultures, they are topics that interest me. I am not trying to stir any pot. When Naiche and CM were both on the BE site I had some interesting conversations with them. Same thing with Ray. I'm aware of the tensions between Betty Ann and others, but I can honestly say that she and I have never exchanged cross words. I leave it at that.

Ray, or CM, I would be interested to hear what you think of my interpretation of "slavery" and adoption as it involved Indians. I've found quite a bit of stuff written by French and Spanish officials on the topics, and I've heard some about it from some Osage, Otoe and Ioway elders. I'd be curious to know if you are aware of those concepts in Comanche and Ojibwa traditions.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gator, it's always good to hear from you. You're one of the more polite and rational people to discuss these sorts of issues with, not mention fun. I hope you're doing well. I'm a bit under the weather as of late and haven't been able to pen an appropriate response to your previous post.

However, some preliminary thoughts as it concerns the French being such supposed "friends" of Algonquian speakers, I would agree that it is a bit of a myth. For a myriad of reasons, the French came over in smaller numbers than did the English (The Spanish I'm not as sure of). As a consequence, they needed many of the Great Lakes peoples as not only trade partners, but as allies against the British and the Brit's allies, the Iroquois Confederacy. Richard White did a fabulous job in his book, "The Middle Ground," which examined this Francophone and Algonquian speaker's alliance. It was built upon HAVING to meet each other's standards of diplomacy and understandings of social reciprocity. From what many of the French wrote of their Indian allies, it would seem to indicate that they held similar views at times as did the Anglos and the Spanish: Indians peoples were inferior forms of life in need of eventual "civilization." Ironically, the Indians of that region felt the same in many cases about the French. The large number of intermarriages not withstanding between the Spanish and French with Native people, their was plenty of ethnocentricisms to go around.

While slavery can and should be categorized as a moral wrong, declaring it so does little in the way of actually understanding it centuries ago and across different cultures. Beak is comfortable in doing this, but I believe that examining institutions within their own cultural and historical context is key to grasping the "past." So, from what I've been told and read on my own, slavery from a Great Lakes perspective (I'm being really general) was along similar lines to what you mentioned. It was about an exchange of people, with adoption and ethnogenesis par for the course. Now, from my own opinion, it would have been tough to endure, but to be intellectually honest, we must see these forms of slavery as distinct from hardcore, capitalistic driven chattel slavery. Read Kenneth Stamp's "The Peculiar Institution" and then a book that examines ancient forms of slavery in Africa and the Americas and it become obvious.

Now, where there was more of an economic basis in the way people were bartered and absorbed, a case may be made in the American southwest. A long standing practice of exchanging people existed between the Apache, Navajo, Comanche, etc... When they encountered the Spanish, who had more crystallized notions of "race" and what constituted cultural inferiority from their perspective, these exchanges of people did begin to take on a more familiar look. I haven't looked over it for several years, but James Brooks' "Captives and Cousins" explores this phenomenon with great scholarship.

On the plains, the taking of relatives, whether to ease tensions or adopt someone from completely outside one's community or geography, is known as taking a Hunka by the Lakota. It's ritual that many Plains communities had similar variations of. Slaves could undergo this ceremony, thus transforming them from an unknown commodity or enemy, into a relative with full kinship obligations.


CM said...


There is history in south Texas of the Penetukas being slaves of the Spanish Missionaries. Its said we helped build the Missions as slaves, "The stones have blood on them, if we could read the stones", one historian said! They tried to convert us, at the same time used us as slaves. Its History, nothing to be ashamed of. Some Spanish Missions to this day holds a lot of our history, its all in Spanish. One would have to spend a fair amount of time in the right one and speak to the right person who is willing to assist. My sisters and I have always wanted to do this, its a rush, rush world always.

Adoption....thats another story. There are a fair amount of enrolled Comanche who have not a drop of Comanche Blood. They are descendants of captives Mexican, Spanish and White who when adopted into our Nation were given full blood status. It's a complicated issue. Comanche people know who these non-Comanches are and their relations. The issue never was a serious thing until some nons seriously disrespect our Nation and start acting more Indian than a Blood Indian. Like I said, its becoming a serious issue and should not be taken lightly anymore!


beakerkin said...


Over time the views of the French toward the Algonquin speakers changed. By the time Arnold arrived in Quebec there were thriving mixed race communities living mostly peacefully.

They had limited sympathies with the Colonial, but did save the lives of Arnold's Army.

One thing mentioned correctly by Yeagley is the low number of Indians. With low numbers came the very real risk of inbreeding. Adopting of captives was one method of avoiding this. The adoption of non Oneida is described
in the book. The Onieda seemed to focus on peopl from the North. One tribe called the Neutrals ceases to exist around 1700.

What makes the Comanche different was that they seem to have treated everyone the same. They adopted Europeans and Mexicans whereas the Iroquois did not seem to do this.
Perhaps they knew the risk was great. Or more likely given the presence of some mixed Dutch and German Indians including some really prominent warriors was accomplished more conventionally.


What is odd about Yeagley is the real Comanche were a merit based warrior society. They were too focused on results to have odd notions about race. In fact the quick absorption of others sufficiently proves Yeagleys notion of race is a nasty European
idea from an earlier time.

He draws parallels to Jews, but as an outsider he misses the substance. Jews understood the reality of mixed unions and made provisions to deal with it. This is why Jews in Ethiopia look different than Jews from Poland.

What is striking about Yeagley is his failure to describe the culture. There is very little on what it means to be Comanche in his writings. By his own admission
he was not raised in the community. His mother was loving but religious and imparted Church values. I do not recall vivid descriptions of trips to visit cousins and so forth.

It is almost as if Yeagley has crossed Melville era portraits of Indian life, stern Christianity and lower class white bigotry into a blender. The real Bad Eagle would probably have been perplexed by this on this. If he lived today he would have been a businessman.

One of the missing points about Indians was the role of trade. Indians may have lived in big houses, but actively were involved in trade. Some of this omission is due to Mazzola Marxists painting Indians in a convenient prism. These types attempt to steal the history of Indians for political purposes. While Indians were being slaughtered by Communists the folks at AIM did nothing except praise the Sandanistas in typical
Marxist fashion. The exception was Russel Means who dropped his Marxism long enough to fight the abuse of Indians, but returned to his ways when the fight was over.
One can occasionally see Communists like Renegade Eye still
cry about the betrayal of Means.

A more sinister look should be taken at the brazen exploitation of Indians by Marxists in places like Chiapas. Communists create lackeys who then foster pointless revolutions while the people they claim to care about suffer for the political machinations.

Communists have done this with other groups. Pol Pot was French educated and a member of a French Communist Party. He called his movement the Khmer Rouge which is French for Red. His model was Mao with similar disastrous results.

Unlike most Communists he purportedly denounced Communism before getting a taste of social justice for his crimes against humanity.

Anonymous said...

Beak, believe me, "race mixing" between some French colonists and Great Lakes native people didn't equate to respect and peace at all times. I have in mind the 17th century rather than the fairly short number of years of the American Revolution. Heck, the Great War for Empire from 1756-1763 witnessed the deterioration of this alliance of convenience.

And I must correct you on the low number of Indians in the Great lakes region and the northeastern woodlands: The tribes there drastically outnumbered the French and the British early on by a huge margin: It's one of the biggest reasons the French had to "play ball," so to speak, by conforming to Indian expectations of diplomacy. Only much later, with the acceleration of tribal rivalries, slaughter by Europeans, and disease, did these communities see such drastic demographic declines. And from a continental perspective, most scholars (regardless of political viewpoints) place the North American continent before European contact at around 10 million. This includes the area north of the Rio Grande through what is today the U.S. By 1900, that number was around 275,000. Hemispherically, that number is estimated at 85-100 Million before contact.

Also, I would caution you as to how you view Marxists and Indians. You seem to take the view that the Marxists are insidiously infiltrating these communities and co-opting their agendas. However, another, and more accurate way of viewing things, is to see the Indians purposely using these outsiders for their own desires. They are a means to an end. They offer support and think the Indians agree with them. It's a little like with Christian missionaries back int the day. Indians knew that only by being baptized could they trade with certain European communities. However, the missionaries always viewed Native acquiencence as conversion and cultural conformity. Marxism patterns itself off of seeking converts like Christianity and Islam.

Marxism is simply another side of the same old Western coin, and most Indians I know feel this. So, far from the almost supernatural powerhouse you attribute to Marxism's ability to infiltrate and contaminate every social movement, their agenda is not the agenda of those groups. To present the choices available to indigenous peoples as either one of two European-derived ideologies and economic systems is to unfortunately overlook the agency of Indians themselves to interact with these ideas, and reject them or incorporate bits of them on THEIR OWN TERMS.

While he's a scum bag, Ward Churchill edited a book entitled "Marxism and Native Americans." While the quality of the exchanges are varied depending on the group or person being interviewed, the common themes is Native rejection of Marxism and Communism. The main argument is that Marxism is just as much a pillager of natural resources as capitalism. Many of the Indians point to what China and Russia did to it's native inhabitants. So, I think you would be broadening your horizons by lessening the supposed appeal Communism holds for these groups and their agenda.


beakerkin said...


I am glad you described Marxism in its correct terms. It is more akin to a faith than a coherent political view.

Yes there is some people who abuse this faith for power.

I want to stress that while the stories of evil missionaries are rife the other side gets forgotten.
Many missionaries devoted their entire lives to the communities they serve. The book I am reading contrasts the life of a Presbyterian Minister who served his community at his own expense and the more mercenary English and their Indian Allies.

Communists work hard to cultivate and sow the seeds of pointless death. The folks in Chiapas would be better served by working with its government to build an economy rather than picking up guns.

Marxists need to stop stealing the history of Indians and deal with their own vile history.

Anonymous said...

WOW very interesting posts on slavery, yet by any other name IT still is the process of one group of humans ruling IT over another group. the particulars are unique for which ever the culture and or group of people or 'race'(term used by cretins degreed or not to promote HYPE or LIARs and ego to get what MONEY, IE the duo of lunacy spews blah blah on topics which neither has a damn clue or real simple on the case of the CON-artist of culture diversity lol, get BANNED from a Indian site due to what racist remarks on blacks, thus all else is semantics IT is a FOOL beyond reason why IT is a DIMWIT, now the Halfwit no real LIFE experience yet tells ALL how to be christian and how to LOVE others Yet aint HAD IT or any' thus again talk as they might on topics which have issue or merit, or how in the hell can two BREED folks have any discourse of 'race' purity and IT always comes back to the blacks, Mex, jews, as in everything is someone elses fault except these two looney tunes. then they go off on how they are this or that and other BS, which still comes back to the duo of lunacy is full of shyt, ok or as Lenny Bruce noted well best not go there, but ok back to slavery another human made topic as other which screw up and KILL others. no matter or 'free your mind and your azz will follow' opps or this the bag is a hen trying to 'crow' and the gourd prancer tries to be a rooster yet lays them eggs every time. but I am sure the attention they thrive on and the conflict based MO for ego and MONEY makes likes other bullshyters anywho, opps forget I am not the beakster, but only the shadow knows and GODE comes XXXXXXX