Native Americans - bloodthirsty savages or peaceful tribes?

Aug 2012
803
Washington State, USA.
#91
Thank you for the quote from the book. I get what you are saying now, though that is still something different from portraying Native Americans as peaceful hippies. Co-opting a former enemy or rebel leader and giving them high honors or exalted treatment within the state that they had previously fought against has probably happened many times in history. With regard to this statement quoted above, I can understand why this would be true, and it makes sense, yet at the same time, it is also true that Thomas Jefferson, who lived in the eastern U.S., had a very negative view of Native Americans and was advocating for either the forced relocation or the extermination of Native Americans in the early 19th century. "Indian-hating" was a real phenomenon which was described in the 19th century, not just created in the present day. How extensive it was in the past, I don't know, but it seems that it really existed.
I think it is worth noting that Thomas Jefferson in his youth for certain was much closer to the fighting that took place with the natives, than say the people of Virginia in the 1870's. I think of course, that we could both find evidence to prove both of our points. This might be a an argument where we are both right. I also think the explosion of sympathy for the Native Americans took place in the latter half of the 19th century when people knew the Indian Wars were nearly over. There is a point where people miss their old enemy, and feel like a piece of themself has been lost at their defeat.

You ever notice the names of American attack Helicopters? The Apache – the Comanche, and even a Kiowa helicopter.
 
Feb 2013
4,282
Coastal Florida
#92
In America its pervasive enough that its the dogma taught in K-12 school and college/university. Nonsense like "George Washington chopped down a cherry tree in between mistreating his slaves, and the evil white colonists conducted a holocaust against the peaceful Native Americans who had their land stolen." This is what the kids are taught. As soon as any real study is done, this myth crumbles, but they wont change it, its tied to numerous political movements and ideology.
When I was in school, I was just taught the facts. In general, white colonists stole Native Americans' land, progressively forced them onto tiny reservations and killed nearly all of them, some by war but mostly by spreading disease. The only reason it's not considered a genocide is because European settlers didn't usually intend to kill Native Americans on a massive scale by spreading disease. I say usually because there are documented instances where disease was spread deliberately as well. Of course, those are mere generalities. There were also many nuances, even instances of cooperation and fair dealing. However, I don't believe those positive instances are representative of the total interaction between Native Americans and European settlers. While people can point to treaties and the like, I'm skeptical they were typically the product of fair negotiations. I mean really! When all was said and done, Native Americans had ceded or been forcibly expelled from practically all of lower North America for right next to nothing in return...except for being "given" small plots of land they already owned (in a collective sense, anyway).

I also don't believe Native Americans were angelic individuals living in a peaceful utopia. However, when people talk about something like raids on European settlements on the frontier, Native Americans are often cast as bloodthirsty savages brutalizing peaceful European settlers who were merely fulfilling their God-given destiny by spreading westward when that wasn't the case either. As far as the raids go, I think they can generally be considered acts of self-defense on a macro scale. Realistically, it was one of the few means of self-defense left to them. And really, it's not all that different from the Allied targeting of civilians in Europe and Japan during World War II. While I understand there were legitimate targets among the civilians, Allied commanders did it knowing a lot of civilians would die so there's no question they were intentionally targeted as well. In that sense, Native Americans were no more savage than us "civilized" white folks.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2017
869
Colorado
#93
Just today, NPR is airing a discussion of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. As usual, NPR has bias, but it's a pretty fair representation of the facts. I'll bet you can find the podcast somewhere.

Both sides of the dispute did bad things. The white people overwhelmingly did more bad things ... in that particular episode of history.

THOSE Indians fought, tried to get along, fought out of desperation ... then went way off the end. The Indians were savage at one point, but this has to be balanced by whites that treated them as less than human "if they're hungry, let them eat grass."
 
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Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,336
Florania
#94
Just today, NPR is airing a discussion of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. As usual, NPR has bias, but it's a pretty fair representation of the facts. I'll bet you can find the podcast somewhere.

Both sides of the dispute did bad things. The white people overwhelmingly did more bad things ... in that particular episode of history.

THOSE Indians fought, tried to get along, fought out of desperation ... then went way off the end. The Indians were savage at one point, but this has to be balanced by whites that treated them as less than human "if they're hungry, let them eat grass."
Being human, Native Americans have all of the human strengths and weaknesses; the isolation and environment rendered them relatively underdeveloped as far as technologies and social organizations were concerned. (The same argument can be made about Aborigines of Australia and Tasmania.)
Even seemingly "technologically backwards", these people adapted to these areas and were thriving before contacts.
I wrote previously about Australia and Tasmania without the Aborigines.
 
Aug 2018
328
Southern Indiana
#95
Read about the Beaver Wars, for approximately 60+ years, the Iroqouis Confederacy attacked all other tribes ranging from the colonies in the east to what is now Indiana in the west and as far down as the Ohio river in the South and into Canada in the North. The Iroqious acquired guns from the Dutch and later the English, with the new weapons, they sought to control the fur trade exclusively and attacked all other tribes, exterminating a couple of them entirely. Numerous tribes were pushed out of their traditional lands and became refugees of sorts, it wasn't until the French brokered a peace around 1680 that the carnage ended and some tribes returned to their ancestoral homelands.
 

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Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,336
Florania
#96
Read about the Beaver Wars, for approximately 60+ years, the Iroqouis Confederacy attacked all other tribes ranging from the colonies in the east to what is now Indiana in the west and as far down as the Ohio river in the South and into Canada in the North. The Iroqious acquired guns from the Dutch and later the English, with the new weapons, they sought to control the fur trade exclusively and attacked all other tribes, exterminating a couple of them entirely. Numerous tribes were pushed out of their traditional lands and became refugees of sorts, it wasn't until the French brokered a peace around 1680 that the carnage ended and some tribes returned to their ancestoral homelands.
Did any Native Americans acquire the firearm technologies?
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,216
Albuquerque, NM
#97
By the time the Conquistador's had subdued the Aztecs, Native Americans had also been introduced to firearms and horses. By the end of the 17th century horses had revolutionized aboriginal cultures in the Great Plains of North America, firearms were known but were less revolutionary until the late 18th century when firearms technology became more effective and wide-spread. Firearms were important trade goods by trappers exploiting the frontiers of North America, but the numbers a weapons was relatively small still. After American Independence and the Constitution (1787), the American Frontier still east of the Mississippi was called the Northwestern Territories, Anglo intrusion into the heart of the continent increased substantially and firearms became increasingly common in frontier regions. By the dawn of the 19th century, most native Americans were familiar with firearms, and firearm technology was progressing rapidly. At the beginning of the 19th century flintlock muskets were common, but by the American Civil War, fifty plus years later, rifled breech-loaders and early repeating firearms were clearly the shape of the near term future. The Indian tribes became better armed with muskets, but ten years after the Late Unpleasantness repeating short arms were becoming more common.

Lest anyone thinks that native archery was helpless and hopeless against flintlocks, think again. Until the advent of quick-firing repeating rifled weapons, bow and arrows had a number of advantages. The rate of fire and effective range of arrows out-shown even flint-lock muskets by a considerable margin. At the end of the Apache Wars in the late 19th century, leaders like Geronimo were still using old flint-locks that had been captured fifty years before, and they still gave the Mexican and American cavalry a rum race for their money.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,251
#98
Did any Native Americans acquire the firearm technologies?
The Susquehannock certainly did (the Swedes called them "Minquas" after the fashion of the Dutch and English). They were the key allies of the Swedish colony of New Sweden in Delaware. And the Swedes sold them as much guns as they wanted, including artillery, making them the only N.Am. native society known to have operated cannon.

The S. ended up in a conflict over territory with the encroaching English colony of Maryland, which already had some 20 000 European inhabitants. As a consequence they bought guns from the Swedes (who probably tagged along to crew the cannons to), and defeated the Marylanders. In the peace settlement they craftily decided to cede the contested territory to the Swedish colony, this interposing the Swedes between themselves and the English (the assumption being that the English might have more respect for another European colony), while declaring themselves "the protectors of the Swedes" to all other native communities.

Swedish officers having served in the colony are on record as thinking that the natives were dangerous, if you didn't know how to deal with them. But if you did, they were the mostly dependably loyal allies the Swedes had ever come across. To the point, at the time of the fall of the colony to the Dutch under Stuyvesant, the Susquehannock paddled across the coast all the way the main Dutch settlement of New Holland, and attacked it, only being repulsed by the Dutch with considerable difficulty.

Next Stuyvesant turned up at the main Fort Christina in an absolute rage, offering the Swedes to keep the colony if only they would agree to attack their native allies. The Swedes were initially utterly confused. It took a while to get Stuyvesant to explain the attack (he thought the Swedes had set the natives up to do it). The accounts give a palpable sense of a kind of sense of "Awww! The dears!" from the Swedish officers upon hearing what their native allies had tried to do for them. They then concluded that what Stuyvesant was proposing (attacking them jointly with the Dutch) was the most despicable act of treason of an ally they had ever heard of. So they rejected it. And then they surrendered.
 
Aug 2018
328
Southern Indiana
#99
Did any Native Americans acquire the firearm technologies?
Not that I have ever heard, they even seemed reliant on whites for repairs. I've never heard of them trying to make their own gunpowder either. The Sauk traded in lead from mines around Gallenia Ill., but I'm not sure how much they processed it.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,336
Florania
Not that I have ever heard, they even seemed reliant on whites for repairs. I've never heard of them trying to make their own gunpowder either. The Sauk traded in lead from mines around Gallenia Ill., but I'm not sure how much they processed it.
From what I read, manufacturing of firearms require metallurgy and precision parts; even the most "advanced" Native Americans were not in the Bronze age YET.
In one of the time travel novels I read, a police officer (the old fashion type: the body and memory of an ancient, the mind of a modern person) with full knowledge of firearm manufacturing could barely manufacture functional mortars (they are much less precise than handheld firearms).
Without metallurgy, the Native Americans might NOT be able to build mortars, either.