What were the thoughts of Communists on the US's historical treatment of Native Americans?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,357
SoCal
I know that the Communists advocated in favor of Black separatism and specifically in favor of the idea of creating a separate, independent Black ethno-state out of the Black-majority parts of the US:

http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/NQ36.pdf

In turn, this made me wonder--what were the thoughts of Communists on the US's historical treatment of Native Americans--specifically the ethnic cleansing and land grabbing that the US constantly engaged in with regard to the Native Americans?
 
May 2019
218
Earth
I couldn't tell you the Communist point of view, but I have heard that one of the reasons certain tribes rejected Roosevelt's 'Indian New Deal' in the '30s was because it was labeled as communistic. The AIF in particular was very vocal about "red" influence in the US government and its potential effects on Native-Americans, and labeled Collier himself as a communist.

Keep in mind though, the red-baiting by elements of the AIF was only one of a range of political views held within that very diverse organisation. One of the reasons for its failure was the overall lack of unity among its members.

Some tribes were also concerned (rightly imo) that the Indian Reorganization Act was forcing an alien form of government and constitution on them, and so voted to reject the act in favour of maintaining their existing structures under the BIA.
 
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
I know that the Communists advocated in favor of Black separatism and specifically in favor of the idea of creating a separate, independent Black ethno-state out of the Black-majority parts of the US:

http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/NQ36.pdf

In turn, this made me wonder--what were the thoughts of Communists on the US's historical treatment of Native Americans--specifically the ethnic cleansing and land grabbing that the US constantly engaged in with regard to the Native Americans?
I am not an expert, but I think the question is complex. Old school marxism is not exactly charitable towards traditional cultures. Sure, while there might be some superficial moral indignation directed at the "Imperialist" West or Capitalist system or whatever, but is it really rooted in a sympathy for these people? Or is it rooted in hate towards Capitalism/ The West and this kind of religious zeal to bring about "the New Man"?

We only have to look at how communists treated traditional cultural norms in societies they came to dominate. Mao was not exactly friendly with traditional chinese culture, neither was the Soviet Union very friendly with various Russian ethnic minority groups (and probably not traditional Russian culture either). The Swedish Social Democrats - though not communists, exactly - were not friends with the Sami, rather the opposite. Most communist revolutionaries that took over in the third world after decolonization seem to me to have pursued very radical policies, often implementing Western "solutions" in a cultural context that was not ready for it. This idea that the left and "indigenous people" are natural allies might have been true during the early 20th century from a tactical point of view, but I very much doubt the average 1920s New York communist intellectual had any serious sympathy for the native americans.

All this being said, this is just speculation - I don't have any concrete knowledge about the American conditions (although I would say I have some knowledge about communism...).
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist and hyuzu
May 2019
218
Earth
Good points, NordicDemosthenes. One thing I'd say to anyone interested in Communist (particularly Soviet) views toward indigenous populations, is to examine some of the persecutions enacted under Soviet rule toward indigenous Siberians. Shamans being locked up, Buddhist monasteries ransacked, kids from nomad families pulled away from their traditional lives to go study in Russian boarding schools. That could give you some idea of just how much Communism cared for indigenous peoples...
 
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
Good points, NordicDemosthenes. One thing I'd say to anyone interested in Communist (particularly Soviet) views toward indigenous populations, is to examine some of the persecutions enacted under Soviet rule toward indigenous Siberians. Shamans being locked up, Buddhist monasteries ransacked, kids from nomad families pulled away from their traditional lives to go study in Russian boarding schools. That could give you some idea of just how much Communism cared for indigenous peoples...
Thank you. I only have a very vague knowledge about those persecutions (I know they happened, basically). It sounds horrible though, which is not that surprising given Communism.

It's a great and perverse form of historical irony that so many of the previously colonized peoples latched on to the most radical, modernist and profoundly intolerant ideology the West has produced, where essentially giving up your identity becomes a prerequisite for "liberation". Understandable given the circumstances, but still tragic I think.

(Although that doesn't really answer Futurist's question of course)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist
May 2019
218
Earth
It's a great and perverse form of historical irony that so many of the previously colonized peoples latched on to the most radical, modernist and profoundly intolerant ideology the West has produced, where essentially giving up your identity becomes a prerequisite for "liberation". Understandable given the circumstances, but still tragic I think.
Actually, in Russia, a lot of indigenous Siberians supported the White side during the Civil War, rather than the Communists. There were various reasons for this, but among them was a desire to preserve the traditions they still had under the Tsar. Also, there were several rebellions involving indigenous peoples against the Soviets after they took power, as a result of Communist mismanegement of the indigenous peoples under their control. For example, the Kazym Rebellion and Tungus Republic.

Kazym rebellion - Wikipedia

Tungus Republic - Wikipedia

Some indigenous Siberians, like Buryats, chose to go into exile rather than live under the Soviets. Some of them even ended up fighting for the Axis against the USSR in the 1930s-40s, such as Urzhin Garmaev and his followers: Urzhin Garmaev - Wikipedia
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
Actually, in Russia, a lot of indigenous Siberians supported the White side during the Civil War, rather than the Communists. There were various reasons for this, but among them was a desire to preserve the traditions they still had under the Tsar. Also, there were several rebellions involving indigenous peoples against the Soviets after they took power, as a result of Communist mismanegement of the indigenous peoples under their control. For example, the Kazym Rebellion and Tungus Republic.

Kazym rebellion - Wikipedia

Tungus Republic - Wikipedia

Some indigenous Siberians, like Buryats, chose to go into exile rather than live under the Soviets. Some of them even ended up fighting for the Axis against the USSR in the 1930s-40s, such as Urzhin Garmaev and his followers: Urzhin Garmaev - Wikipedia
Interesting!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist

mark87

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,094
Santiago de Chile
They are only against 'western capitalist' exploits of natives, when it is a communist/socialist regime the traditional way of life of natives has to give way to their attempt at utopia. Since others have already dealt with the USSR's treatment of Siberians among other groups i'll mention that the communists in Vietnam (the north) definitely did not respect the local mountain tribes and their way of life and most definitely persecuted them during the Vietnam war and after. They only care about natives and their rights if it serves their purpose to destroy the capitalist model, if it doesn't fit their narrative natives can and will be persecuted for not conforming to their prototype of citizen.
 
May 2019
218
Earth
They are only against 'western capitalist' exploits of natives, when it is a communist/socialist regime the traditional way of life of natives has to give way to their attempt at utopia. Since others have already dealt with the USSR's treatment of Siberians among other groups i'll mention that the communists in Vietnam (the north) definitely did not respect the local mountain tribes and their way of life and most definitely persecuted them during the Vietnam war and after. They only care about natives and their rights if it serves their purpose to destroy the capitalist model, if it doesn't fit their narrative natives can and will be persecuted for not conforming to their prototype of citizen.
I think that's one of the reasons that hill people like the Hmong tended to side with the USA rather than the North Vietnamese and other regional communists...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist

pikeshot1600

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,974
I cannot recall reading or hearing anything about US communists' opinions on Native Americans. As with White Americans, the communists in New York and elsewhere probably had never come in contact with them, and they never came to mind.

Communists from outside North America would have had even less contact, and may never have thought about them at all.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist