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

Aug 2018
515
Southern Indiana
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.
No doubt, People who haven't read up on the topic always think the Native tribes have been in their ancestral hunting grounds since time began, the reality is very different. The Shawnee were widely dispersed in the 1600's with some of them living in the Carolinas, other parts of the tribe in Alabama. The Miami ended up in Western Wisconsin. The Delaware and the Wyandot were forced south into the Ohio Valley.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,872
Portugal
When Death rituals are part of the religion, like it was among the Mayas and the Aztecs it is difficult not to be bloody.

Then we have the Caribs that basically were pirate raiders in the Caribbean Sea, to collect sack, slaves and women, especially among the Taíno, a bit like the Vikings in the Early Medieval period.

So, I think sparky had a good sentence: “pretty much the same , it went from quite mild to genocidal”
 
Aug 2011
161
The Castle Anthrax
Yeah, some good points by all. Really, the question is; how are we defining violence? It is the total number of causalities? Is it the manner in which the causalities were achieved, i.e. torture? The conflicts between the settlers, the new governments and the natives were drenched in a complete misunderstanding of each respective culture. Each culture had an argument that the other was savage. To whit:

Despite the missionary work and generally deep gospel roots of the settlers, the Native American was ironically a far deeper spiritual individual. Everything had an eternal spirt. Thus, in contest with an enemy it did not suffice to merely kill the opponent. Their disposition in the next life or spirit world also needed consideration. Hence, bodies were divided, mutilated, and otherwise scarred. To the white people this was scandalous savage behavior despite making perfect sense to the native.

The settlers viewed the natural world as an asset whose sole purpose was to enrich mankind. They had no reservations about altering the earth to suit their purposes, nor did they believe that the wild game were spiritual beings and therefore they were perfectly content to hunt populations out of existence all the while wasting much of the carcasses. To the native observer, this was highly offensive to their sense of a higher power who benevolently organized the land and its creatures and placed the inhabitants in stewardship.

Those are just a few cultural items that were in opposition. There are many others. Add to those that one can't entirely generalize about the natives or the settlers. There was diversity within each major cultural group. Some natives embraced the white life style and some whites embraced the native lifestyle.

Perhaps the solution to the op is dependent on what one's affiliation was. If you were an outsider, then the actions made no sense and could only be described as savage. If however, you were a native then the conflicts between tribes made logical sense, or if you were a settler than the white's actions made sense. It is a sad historical irony that only when the American Indian was near extinction in the late 19th century did the public begin to take an interest in the natives as people and develop some respect for their wisdom and way of life. Kind of reminds me of what Churchill was supposed to have said... You can depend upon the Americans to do the right thing. But only after they have exhausted ever other possibility.
 
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Aug 2018
515
Southern Indiana
The settlers viewed the natural world as an asset whose sole purpose was to enrich mankind. They had no reservations about altering the earth to suit their purposes, nor did they believe that the wild game were spiritual beings and therefore they were perfectly content to hunt populations out of existence all the while wasting much of the carcasses. To the native observer, this was highly offensive to their sense of a higher power who benevolently organized the land and its creatures and placed the inhabitants in stewardship.
I'm afraid that is a romanticized version of the Native tribes, it wasn't the white people who trapped and hunted the beaver and otter out of the existence in the Midwest, it was the native tribes trapping and trading these furs for guns, powder and other trade goods. Only when the whites reached the Rocky mountains did white trappers cut out the middle man and trap the animals themselves.
 
Aug 2011
161
The Castle Anthrax
Yes, you're right about that. However, not all Indians in the mideast trapped. The older generation was largely appalled by the behavior, especially when the fruits of their bartered whiskey became evident. I tried to state that neither group was monolithic. You provided a good illustration of just that.
 

Zip

Jan 2018
470
Comancheria
When a fella's wife says she's tired of boiling water with hot rocks in water tight baskets she made and of preparing hides with stone tools and that he'd better get his ass out there and get her some steel knives, copper kettles and wool cloth or else no more nookie; well that's a hard argument to resist.
 
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sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,614
San Diego
Generally speaking, was violence between American Indian tribes worse than violence between whites and American Indians in terms of war crimes perpetrated?
IN the east- the Iroquois confederacy ruthlessly crushed all competing tribes within a large swath of territory-
The Sioux- more properly Identified as the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota originated north of lake superior- by the time of significant white contact they had expanded south into Minnesota and Wisconsin entirely eradicating the tribes that previously existed there- and when they got the horse- they burst out onto the plains- seized the Black Hills from the pawnee, and the Bighorns from the Crow while conducting a campaign of annihilation- the Crow were previously 12 large bands- by the time of significant white contact, there were only 2 surviving bands of Crow.

These are just a few of the instances we KNOW of... the Native Americans of the US and Canada did not keep written histories and there are no records of the internecine warfare that went on for hundreds of generations prior to colonization.

The thing is- Native Americans are NOT special. They are no different than any other group of human beings, anywhere else on earth.
Equally capable of fellowship, or genocide.