Was violence between American Indian tribes worse than violence between whites and Indians?

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,910
Nonsense, look up the beaver Wars. The Iroquois Confederation displaced numerous tribes throughout the Ohio Valley from the mid 1600's to the mid 1700's. They completely exterminated at least two tribes.
The driving impetus of the Beaver Wars was European demand for furs. Remove the European demand, and they never happen. No point.

Really, it's how the native societies of the North American east coast were inducted into the European controlled global trade network. It was about global demand, and economy driven. (It's the other end of the spice-island competition in south east Asia, and European demand for labour to exploit the resources of a couple of new continents driving slave trade in west Africa at the same time.)

It was on a level where many societies simply stopped producing anything except furs for sale to the Europeans, because the Europeans could pay in not just amounts but in ways, goods unheard of before, no one had ever seen until then. Entire native pottery traditions, up to the time discernible in archeological digs, just went out inside a generation. Why make pots when you could hunt fur and trade them for anything you might need or care to have from the Europeans? And when you deplete your hunting grounds, you go for your neighbour's which still has beaver. And so it rolls on until the beavers run out...

The Iroquois also wouldn't have been able to do what they did without access to western firearms. They were also part of a global phenomenon sparked by the European commercial expansion known as "gunpowder empires". (Another aspect of it was the African slaving states that with access to firearms re-tooled themselves to become primarily providers of people for enslavement to be shipped to the New World to generate further profit. At the other end of north America the Comanche built an empire based in access to horses from the Europeans, something that clearly also could not have happened without the Europeans.)

It's all about economics, and all interconnected. But it's an economic model that wasn't developed, and certainly could never have worked on the scale it did, without the global demands driving it.
 
Last edited:

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,806
United States
The one thing the Indians had was the torture of war prisoners to break their will
the prisoner was supposed to bear it even to taunt his tormentors to humiliate them
once the man had been broken the men would loose interest and the women would rip him apart
Apache women were supposed to be able to make a man last quite a while in torments
their common name of "the snake people" wasn't just imagination
In many southeastern tribes, women were responsible for the fate of war captives including torture which is either super kinky or immeasurably humiliating depending on how you look at it.
 
Oct 2019
124
West Virginia
There was an anthropological study done of human remains, comparing the evidence of violence between pre-invasion and post-invasion Natives, and the level of violence increased drastically once the Europeans had invaded. If I can find the reference I'll post it.

In the case of the Iroquois, though we can find pre-invasion evidence of nastiness by them, the genocides mentioned were incited by the French, and occurred when the Iroquois were caught in an economic squeeze as they became dependent on trading with the whites.

It is not surprising that people would engage in more conflict as a foreign invader pushed them up against each other, played them off against each other, and attempted to exterminate many of them. That's how humans behave, sadly.
 
Oct 2019
124
West Virginia
Nonsense, look up the beaver Wars. The Iroquois Confederation displaced numerous tribes throughout the Ohio Valley from the mid 1600's to the mid 1700's. They completely exterminated at least two tribes.

As far as the OP's question, "was the violence worse?", that depends on how you define it, in numbers?, in savagery?, in the end result to the tribes?
And really I think it would be useful to specify about which Natives are we asking this question? Inherently the Pueblo peoples, for example, were far less violent than the Apache who harassed them. Likely the Apache could equal the Europeans in violent behavior, but most Native groups did not.
 
Aug 2018
591
Southern Indiana
There was an anthropological study done of human remains, comparing the evidence of violence between pre-invasion and post-invasion Natives, and the level of violence increased drastically once the Europeans had invaded. If I can find the reference I'll post it.

In the case of the Iroquois, though we can find pre-invasion evidence of nastiness by them, the genocides mentioned were incited by the French, and occurred when the Iroquois were caught in an economic squeeze as they became dependent on trading with the whites.

It is not surprising that people would engage in more conflict as a foreign invader pushed them up against each other, played them off against each other, and attempted to exterminate many of them. That's how humans behave, sadly.
The Iroquois tribes , by their own accounts attacked each other without mercy for decades before they joined into a confederation.

The Beaver Wars were not a necessity from an economic squeeze, it was a clear attempt to control the fur trade after they acquired enough guns to subjugate all the other tribes in the region. They completely annihilated a couple of tribes including the peaceful "neutrals"
Neutral Nation - Wikipedia
 
  • Like
Reactions: Zip

Zip

Jan 2018
636
Comancheria
As Hoosier mentioned the Iroquois destroyed or dispersed several other Indian nations in the Beaver Wars. The Chippewa made serious war on the Sioux and drove them out of the Great Lakes Country, for the furs ( and they also drove the Iroquois back east from former Huronia). The Sioux in turn made serious war on the Indians already on the Plains, for example driving the Kiowa out of the Black Hills and down to south of the Platte River. And they and the Cheyenne (who had also been run out the woods by the Chippewa) made genocidal war upon the Pawnee who eventually had to move south to Oklahoma to get away from them.

Meanwhile the Comanche moved onto the southern Plains and did their best to destroy the Apaches, most of whom gave up living on the Plains and moved west to New Mexico and Arizona.

Almost everybody in the Great Lakes Country, Indians and French both, tried to exterminate the Fox Indians and almost succeeded.

These are but a few examples. This was serious business; people didn't flee hundreds of miles because war was symbolic.
 
Last edited:

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,994
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
At the present time the USA including Alaska has over 500 federally recognized tribal governments, which gives a rough indication of the total number of separate groups that might have existed in the area of the present USA at any one moment of time before European contact.

The remaining cultures of the various tribes are quite varied, and historical records show a wide range of cultures in the various tribes when they were contacted, including a wide range in how warlike the various nations, tribes, bands and other groups were.

It is difficult to find archaeological evidence for how peaceful or violent societies were before recorded history. The number of skeletons unearthed without marks of violence compared to the number of skeletons unearth with marks of violence is a very poor guide, since archaeologists find the remains of only a tiny proportion of all those who die in a particular society.

Finding of weapons that can be used either for hunting or war is not very significant except if found in agricultural communities, and even in agricultural communities a lot of people may hunt for meat.

Defensive structures are a clue that those who built them had some fear of attack.

Archaeologists have found some evidence of violence, brutality, atrocities, and war crimes in the prehistoric USA.

At Sacred Ridge, near Durango, Colorado, a community was burned down and about 35 persons were killed, with evidence of torture and mutilation about AD 800. Sacred Ridge - Wikipedia

At the Crow Creek site in South Dakota, the remains of at least 486 people were found who had been killed and often mutilated. during the mid 1300s. Crow Creek massacre - Wikipedia

So there is proof that inter tribal warfare was sometimes brutal and large scale centuries before Columbus and the first European influences, but I doubt that there is enough evidence to accurately calculate violence levels for the USA in pre Columbian eras.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fiver
Aug 2019
571
North
Generally speaking, was violence between American Indian tribes worse than violence between whites and American Indians in terms of war crimes perpetrated?
I think it wasn't. Whites introduced the firearms, so the casualties were much greater.