Posted by Rich on July 10, 1998 at 12:23:12:
In Reply to: Re: history and speculations posted by Tom on July 09, 1998 at 20:54:48:
>: I have noticed that no one seems too disturbed that the Lakotas "stole" this land from other tribes in the first place. Its only when Europeans conquer the former conquerors that seems to get the beating of the breasts for the dispossed. Where is the moral outrage for the tribes who lost these lands to a rapacious invader? Should the Indians be excused for every outrage they committed against each other because they were all eventually treated so horribly by the whiteman? Or should they be excused since "they didn't know any better?" Or is it just sentimental hypocrisy that makes people turn a blind-eye to savagery and ruthlessness of one race in order to completely condemn the savergey and ruthless of another race? In our past it was always the Americans who received the benefit of that skewered look at history; today the arguement has been reversed but it is still a skewered viewpoint.<
Well, I had been addressing just that one point ... that is, Indians being dispossesed for false reasons (ie : they weren't "properly" utilizing their land).
On the subject of Indian violence, concentrating on the example presented, the Sioux ... I, for one, do not excuse Indian nations for warring on each other or against, in some cases, white settlers. However, comparing Indian/Indian violence to European/Indian violence is, in general (yes, I know exceptions can be cited), kind of like comparing ballet to lacrosse. Scenes like that in "Dances With Wolves" were very rare, particularly out on the Plains, where warfare was dominated by counting coup. (touching your enemey with a stick, called a "coup stick") In fact, it was considered more heroic to touch a LIVE enemy ... much more dangerous! Full blown attacks on Indian villages were NOT the norm by any means. Neither were attacks on white settlements or, even, forts. Indian warfare, in North America, was not generally one of extermination. There was little in the way of mass murder, destroying livlihoods, or burning villages. Case after case, on the other hand, can be mentioned where US troops burned, pillaged, raped, mutilated (how about Cheyenne genitals on display in Denver!!!), and starved their enemy. Grant & Sherman= Total War! That was the philosophy, and it, of course, pre-dated them. Taking the whole 400 year period at its total value, one sees a pattern, clearly, of extermination, forget about domination! The Sioux did disposses other tribes, that cannot be argued. One of them, the Kiowa, fought beside them, later, at Adobe Walls. Could the Pequots do the same for the Puritans who "dispossed" them? Again, I myself can think of exceptions, particularly in the east, to what I am saying. I am not trying to romantacize. But, the GENERAL trend, I firmly believe, is as I say here. Population sparsity, if nothing else, demanded that KILLING not be excessive.
One other point I'd like to make ... things were certainly different in the east than in the west. There was a more brutal, sometimes VERY brutal, form of warfare in the east. Once Europeans entered the picture, politics among the tribes increased this brutality. Everyone wanted to be on the winning side. My main point is that violence certainly did NOT originate with the coming of the White Man to this content; European intervention in the lifeways already here merely changed the rules, upped the stakes, and caused it to be a much more life & death issue.
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