Native Americans - bloodthirsty savages or peaceful tribes?

Aug 2012
804
Washington State, USA.
#81
A Century of Dishonor was published in 1881. Because in fact some people had objected to the unjust treatment of Native Americans long before the 1960s and 1970s.

What is this historical revisionism of the history of native Americans from the 60s and 70s which says that they were not warlike at all, how extensive is it, and how much influence or how wide of a reach did it really get?
Native Americans did become sort of cool and saintly in the 1960's and 1970's, but even in the 19th century people out east in the USA had romanticized ideas about Native Americans. During the Plains Indian Wars, many people thought the Texans were exaggerating the severity of the native raids. There was still a lot of mistrust of Southerners, but eventually former Union generals like William T. Sherman travelled to the frontier and found out what was going on first hand. Now Sherman is a villain for cracking down on the Indians, but he only did so when he seen evidence of the murder raids with his own eyes.

If you want to read a book that will knock your socks off, read John Edward Weem's Death Song (1976). There is a no bullshit or racial politics, but there is a lot of first hand accounts of the Plains Indian Wars. Make no mistake, the severity of the murder raids on the plains is greatly understated by Hollywood, Academia, and just about everyone else. It has never been overstated by anyone. The Searchers is likely one of the most accurate films on the era, and most people today would think the movie racist if they watched it.

I still have a lot of sympathy for the natives, as they were here first, and they had the deck stacked against them.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,594
Benin City, Nigeria
#82
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.
Well there may be specific cases where that is essentially what is being taught, but I am still skeptical of the notion that Native Americans in North America are consistently and widely depicted as peaceful. If there is evidence that the peaceful and not warlike depiction of Native Americans is generally what is taught I would be interested to see it.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,594
Benin City, Nigeria
#83
Native Americans did become sort of cool and saintly in the 1960's and 1970's, but even in the 19th century people out east in the USA had romanticized ideas about Native Americans. During the Plains Indian Wars, many people thought the Texans were exaggerating the severity of the native raids.
I"m not sure that most people in the 19th century eastern U.S. had a "romanticized idea" about Native Americans. Maybe a minority did, but I am skeptical of the notion that this was widespread. Perhaps you can provide something that shows that such idealized or romanticized views were widespread.

It's probably the case that Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (which was published in 1970) had a big effect in making people start to see Native Americans as "saintly" around the time that you've mentioned, but I wouldn't say that that book actually denies that Native Americans were warlike.

There is a no bullshit or racial politics, but there is a lot of first hand accounts of the Plains Indian Wars. Make no mistake, the severity of the murder raids on the plains is greatly understated by Hollywood, Academia, and just about everyone else.
I don't think there's been much of an argument specifically from "Hollywood, Academia, and just about everyone else" that brutal raids by Native Americans did not happen. The casus belli for such raids was often the actions taken by white settlers encroaching onto Native American land, as was the case in the Dakota War (1862), in which hundreds of white American settlers were killed. The reason for the brutal attacks by the Dakota is that their own people were essentially starving to death after the settlers moved into the area and established a new order which resulted in the Dakota struggling just to survive.

But anyway, I am skeptical of the notion that this idea of Native Americans as super-peaceful and not warlike is really a claim that Hollywood or academia in general, or the average person on the street, is really making. In fact, there was a film called Hostiles that came out only at the end of last year and in that film Native Americans are definitely not depicted as peaceful, tree-hugging "hippies" or innocent children of nature.
 
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Aug 2016
977
US&A
#84
I'm not sure if there is any group of specific things that contributed to the idea of Native Americans being peace-pipe toking hippies. It seems like well, Injun's live in the woods right? so they're like hippies basically. And we're not racist right? So they gotta be peaceful too.

poc.jpeg
Admittedly, Pocahontas is pretty stacked for a 12 year-old.
 
May 2011
13,981
Navan, Ireland
#85
A Century of Dishonor was published in 1881. Because in fact some people had objected to the unjust treatment of Native Americans long before the 1960s and 1970s.

What is this historical revisionism of the history of native Americans from the 60s and 70s which says that they were not warlike at all, how extensive is it, and how much influence or how wide of a reach did it really get?
Well I am noting to claim to be an expert on American culture and political thought but my impression is up to the 1950'/60's the USA and the Americans were the 'good guys' -- brave settlers who fought evil (European and native) forces to carve out a county from the wilderness.

The native Americans (to most but there were always dissenting voices) were the blood thirsty 'primitives' who slaughtered innocent settlers in often most cruel ways --- that's not wrong but its only part of the story.

The 1960's/70's there 'rebellion' and questioning of authority and accepted narratives (again nothing wrong with that) suddenly the native Americans have a simple peaceful life close to nature as opposed to 'our' complex industrial life. Dis satisfaction with our industrial world encourages a interpretation of native American who are now innocent victims of Imperialism and the modern world. Interested in protecting the environment in their culture

See the film 'Revenant'? I enjoyed it and is a interesting take on the early frontier-- but you can see the story is changed to pander to modern political senses-- The Native Americans who brutally attack the 'American traders' (liked the fact that many had British/foreign accents which would have been the reality) are doing so because they have been attacked by other white traders --- which is fair enough in one way and perhaps truthful but it would do to portray them as warlike. The main character is rescued by a friendly Native American -- which is true and we later find this Indian murdered by the 'bad' white traders but in history this happens but its another band of Native Americans who murdered him for little or no reason. Why do you think that was changed in the story?

Does the portrayal of the 'Patriots' attitude to African Americans in Mel Gibson's movie of that name tell us more about modern America than it does actually attitudes in the ARW?
 
May 2011
13,981
Navan, Ireland
#86
..............................

But anyway, I am skeptical of the notion that this idea of Native Americans as super-peaceful and not warlike is really a claim that Hollywood or academia in general, or the average person on the street, is really making. In fact, there was a film called Hostiles that came out only at the end of last year and in that film Native Americans are definitely not depicted as peaceful, tree-hugging "hippies" or innocent children of nature.
That's because they weren't "peaceful, tree-hugging "hippies" or innocent children of nature" that some people would like to present them to be so there is a re-action.

We don't live in the 1960/70's -- we are more cynical perhaps but as with most things there is again revision of the subject.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,594
Benin City, Nigeria
#87
I haven't seen either of those movies. I was just curious about whether there were some things one could point to that show Native Americans start to be depicted as peaceful hippies after the 60s and 70s. As for Hostiles, I don't know that the depiction there is a "reaction" to anything - I haven't seen any evidence of that yet. The film is based on something written in the 1980s apparently.
 
Aug 2012
804
Washington State, USA.
#88
I"m not sure that most people in the 19th century eastern U.S. had a "romanticized idea" about Native Americans. Maybe a minority did, but I am skeptical of the notion that this was widespread. Perhaps you can provide something that shows that such idealized or romanticized views were widespread.
The book I mentioned has a lot of data in it about the gulf between the perceptions of people out east, and the people on the frontier who were having to endure the raids. If you want an example that you can consume in a few minutes, think of the life of Geronimo. He became a celebrity before the 19th century was even over, and was a star attraction at parades, fairs, and just about anything else where people would pay money to see Geronimo. This took place far from the frontier where people had memories of Indian raids. He even took part in Teddy Roosevelt's 1905 Presidential Inaugural Parade.

This idea that most white people had hatred for Indians is a myth of the present day. The fact is, the closer people were to the brutality of the conflict, the more of a grudge people had against the natives. Hollywood almost always reverses this, and acts like the ignorant white man who never met an Indian is the one who hated the natives. The rare film Hostiles does try to correct this misconception, but is still a pretty awful movie anyway.

Quanah Parker was another former war chief who was given celebrity treatment after the wars, and he also attended Teddy Roosevelt's Inaugural Parade. In Death Song is the account of a former cavalry officer named Robert Carter, who fought Quanah Parker encountering him at this parade. I rewrote the account below.

Death Song by John Edward Weems:

Theodore Roosevelt's March 4, 1905, inaugural parade exasperated him further. Carter joined a multitude of Washingtonians who watched it. A total of 35,000 Americans representing virtually every vocation paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in a chilly wind for more than three hours. Roosevelt reviewed them from a stand near the White House.
Carter also watched them come: bands and other marching units, Rough Riders, mounted cowboys, governors given more sedate transportation, United States Military Academy cadets.
Midway in the parade Carter was amazed and angered to see the fellow citizens packed around him paying utmost attention and tribute to a group of mounted Indians seemingly dressed for another war on the Great White Father, who was applauding them as energetically as any other spectator. The Indians rode their richly adorned horses directly in front of Carter, and he saw (six years before that chief's death) Quanah, the Comanche who had helped to give him his cursed disability; Geronimo (four years before that chief's death), slayer of many army men and white citizens; and others.
 
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Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,594
Benin City, Nigeria
#89
The fact is, the closer people were to the brutality of the conflict, the more of a grudge people had against the natives.
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.
 
Feb 2017
207
Canada
#90
Humans -> Self Interested
Natives -> Humans
Natives -> Self Interested

There is no reason to think their nature should be different from any other group of people. But they're of course looked at through rose-colored glasses because the left tends to be on the side of the oppressed. As someone else in this thread said: people aren't good with nuance.