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Helian... thanks for bringing some light to the subject of of Indian/European relations in pre-Revolutionary America. The "progressive" left has so distorted American Indian history that few Americans and fewer Europeans have any sense of how Indians and Settlers actually interacted on this continent. For once one would think that the "strong is wrong" mega narrative could be put aside and real understanding brought to the subject.

During the nineteenth century, Indian culture and traditions were held in high regard in America, despite the wars that raged on the western plain. It can be seen all over the country, including atop of our national capital, where the representation of freedom is depicted in the form of an Indian. But during the twentieth century, the convenient and simplistic concept of Indians as victims of "white racism" took hold, which resulted in massive subsidies and welfare programs, a culture of dependency, and the destruction of American Indian culture as a positive influence on America in general.

It is so sad to see what passes for intellectual discourse in Germany these days. The world needs a strong and vibrant Europe to balance China and the US. It appears that the European "intellectual elite" are never going to let that happen. They seem to care more about tearing down the US than honestly competing for a better future.

Thanks Helian and Jake.

There are entirely too many people mesmerized by the "Aztecs"* to understand that these people completely horrified the Inquisition Era Spaniards. Anyone who could make Spaniards of that bloody era sick with their violence... sick enough to completely destroy every vestige of the culture that they could... were pretty bad. Readings on "Aztec" religious practices read like expansions and clarifications of Dante's Inferno.

* The name "Aztecs" is a misnomer. There actually were real Aztecs, who were a tiny coastal tribe in Mexico. They were the first people the Spaniards encountered in Mexico, and thereafter everyone else they encountered in that same cultural group were also called "Aztecs", and most historians and anthropologists continue to use that name. The real name of the loose confederacy was an unpronouncable polysyllable that roughly translates to "The One World"-- the reason scholars stick to "Aztec". In one attempt to correct that error, the place was named Mexico after the tribe that was ruling the One World at the time the Spaniards arrived... Montezuma's tribe, the Mexics. The name swap didn't catch on anywhere else, though :).

Another excellent analysis by Helian. Of course, it isn't really the Jamestown settlers that SPON wants to denigrate, but Americans of the present. Certainly it is logically impossible to malign current Americans with a list of mostly imaginary crimes commited over 300 years ago by European settlers, but we have all been watching the German media long enough to know what the intent of the article is, and that it will (sadly) be effective among SPON readers.

Of course, the German colonization of Africa was a model for the whole world. 100,000 Hero tribesman slaughtered in the name of the Kaiser and civilization.

On a personal note, my mother was from the Tide Water area of Virginia. My uncle bought a 100 acre farm on the opposite side of the James River from Jamestown. His deed goes back to one of the original settlers, John Rolf, and his wife, Pochahantis. That's right, Pocahahantis, the Indian Princess, married an English commoner. Pochahantis followed her husband back to England, where he was trying to unload his tobacco crops. She died on English soil form disease that was unique to unsantitary European cities, like London, at the time.

Anyone with a serious interest in this topic would be well advised to start with Allan Eckert's Winning of America series. They are well written, and if I remember correctly have a lot of references for further information.

“Today historians know exactly who they (the original settlers) were, and that knowledge is very revealing. A priest, but no farmers, along with carpenters, masons, smiths and doctors – not the occupations one would expect for a village intended to provide for itself. Plunder, robbery, exploitation. That must have been the idea from the beginning.”

Well of course they meant to plunder!!! What else are people like priests, carpenters, masons, smiths and doctors used for? Oh wait, that doesn't make any F@&*ING sense!

The European media is pointing out that Europeans once again crossed to oceans to another land and committed genocide? Quelle surprise! Could they be more absurd in their feigned indignation or selective in their rememberance of history?
Tyranno

Very interesting, Helian. There is no denial that the European interference has irreversibly altered the lifes of the natives. Having said that, I don't understand the modern need to paint the lifes of the natives as being something akin to life in paradise, where everyone, man, beast and nature coexist in harmony and happiness in some sort of Nirvana bliss, a bliss which is only accidentally disrupted by rare, random and not representative acts of aggression.

That world never existed and never will. Yet, delusional Western minds keep pretending that that lost, imaginary world represented a high mark in the history of human evolution.

In our non-judgmental times, a tribe who enjoyed inflicting pain on their enemies with an unspeakable cruelty is not to be judged, and if they are to be judged at all, they should be judged not based on their worst behavior, but on the sum total of their daily activities. Like, for example, how nice they were to the trees and birds. In the book of checks and balances, you scalp your enemy, you get a one dollar fine, you naughty boy. You don't pollute the river by relieving yourself in it, you get a ten dollar reward. And so on, and so forth, until the narrative of the noble native societies is complete.

Let's not forget one thing. Pretty much during the same time period, the (Spanish) Inquisition committed their savage acts. Not only was the Inquisition committing those acts, but large parts of the population cheered on. That time is justifiably regarded as a low point in European history. No one looks back with pride at those times, no one thinks of regarding that period as some sort of enlightened era. At the same time, but on a different continent, native tribes were committing against each other similar crimes, if not greater. Yet, modern "thinkers" apply again double standards. Western cruelty is bad and defines the Western character, native cruelty is understandable and is only a tiny fleck on an otherwise flawless character.

Evidently, there were differences between tribes, not all were as savage, and also many abuses were committed by the European settlers. This is not about whitewashing the latter, not about excuses. No, it's simply about the constant failure of the media to present both sides of the coin.

@ WhatDoIKnow

Western (free) world = bad, rest of the world = innocent victims of the evil West. That's what our elites are telling their followers regularly. Everything is supposed to be our fault. Immigrants and foreign influences on the other hand are per se good and must be defended against every criticism even if that means parallel societies, discrimination, oppression and violence. It helps their political agenda (or so they think). And in the short term, it does. An overwhelming majority of immigrants votes for left-wing parties here in Germany.

Disclaimer: I don't have anything against immigrants per se (why should I?), as long as they come here to life together with us in a free society and as long as they respect our values.

WhatDoIKnow -

I don't understand the modern need to paint the lifes of the natives as being something akin to life in paradise,

By fighting the sacred plants in symbiosis with which we managed to rise above the realm of the animals, our species is alienating itself of its own spiritual roots.

(Disclaimer: Although these days America is the driving force behind the Cannabis scare, the historical origins of that pathology lie in Europe.)

Idealising whatever is assumed to have taken place before the worst known self-mutilation in the history of the universe took effect is an explicable compensation reaction of rootless and alienated peoples. Unhappiness and misfortune are bound to occur as long as people live, but individuals who have given up on finding a solution to the key problem, or who never managed to get an enlightened grasp on its root cause, may prefer to get rid of all of civilisation, for better or worse. What´s a system worth in the first place, when it treats the sacred plants as criminal plants?

It is a miracle that our species has survived this vicious reality inversion for so long.

What does this have to do with the United States? The Jamestown article starts off with the date 1607. The United States didn't start to exist until 1776. So as far as I am concerned, the next 161 years is a completely European problem. If there is any guilt, it clearly belongs in the hands of European governemnts.

This is Roussseau's fault. Europeans have been drinking his kool aid for far too long.

Helian, my ancestors are one of the earliest Pennsylvania settlers, the McKees. They married into the Shawnee nation (her Shawnee name was Tecumsepah, her Anglo name was Margaret). One of their descendents, Hugh, was George Washington's liason to the Shawnee during the Revolution. I can tell you for a fact that no Indian culture was noble or peaceful. The Shawnee nation was geographically divided into what anthropologists call septs all up and down the eastern seaboard and into the Ohio Valley. Politcally, they were very close to the Delaware tribes. The Iriquois (a consortium of about 7 tribes) were the predators and and prey tribes hired the Shawnee as mercenaries for protection.

Oh, and scalping was a practice the native population adopted - from French hunters.

No, there was no civilization from these people - culture, yes, but civilization, no. What happened to them over the years is awful but the wanton slaughter was something they started.

@beimami

"Of course, it isn't really the Jamestown settlers that SPON wants to denigrate, but Americans of the present. Certainly it is logically impossible to malign current Americans with a list of mostly imaginary crimes commited over 300 years ago by European settlers, but we have all been watching the German media long enough to know what the intent of the article is, and that it will (sadly) be effective among SPON readers."

Of course. I didn't point it out explicitly because most of the DMK regulars are familiar with the SPON drill by now, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it occasionally. You'd think the editors of SPON, whose papas and grandpas were rather more complicit in acts of mass murder and genocide than the Jamestown settlers, and at a significantly more recent date, would not have the grotesque shamelessness to point the finger at others. Unfortunately, if you did you'd think wrong.

@WhatDoIKnow

"Evidently, there were differences between tribes, not all were as savage, and also many abuses were committed by the European settlers. This is not about whitewashing the latter, not about excuses. No, it's simply about the constant failure of the media to present both sides of the coin."

Exactly. I, of course, chose to emphasize the side of the story the media prefers to ignore to make the point that there is, in fact, another side of the story, and that history is not the morality play with stock good guys and bad guys that journalists almost invariably make of it. The Indians are no more intrinsically "evil" than white Europeans are intrinsically "good," and, as with any other human population, one could as well use history to point to the instances of their magnanimity, selflessness and sense of justice, as to highlight the darker side of their past.

@Pamela

"This is Rousseau's fault. Europeans have been drinking his kool aid for far too long."

It's true a lot of his musings haven't stood the test of time, but he was a thinker. You can learn a lot about yourself and the human condition by reading his "Confessions," and, if what he wrote wasn't always right, it was certainly thought provoking.

"Helian, my ancestors are one of the earliest Pennsylvania settlers, the McKees. They married into the Shawnee nation (her Shawnee name was Tecumsepah, her Anglo name was Margaret)."

Many of us whose ancestors have been in the country for any length of time have Indian connections, and sometimes we're not even aware of them. For example, I discovered from an on-line genealogist that Hannah Drake, one of my great great grandfather's "daughters" was really an Indian girl, adopted when she was very young and raised as a white.

Speaking of culture, there was a spectacular exhibit of Mayan art in Washington recently which you may have seen. I thought this portrait head was particularly impressive.

-- we forget that “Millenia before the first Europeans arrived there were already people on this continent, and they represented a highly developed civilization.” --

I see someone hasn't read 1491 New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann.

I haven't either, but it's waiting on my bookshelf.

Pamela - At the time of Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Europe was just coming out of the witchhunts. He didn´t make up his ideas out of nothing, he had a cultural self-mutilation to compensate for.

"Helian, my ancestors are one of the earliest Pennsylvania settlers, the McKees. They married into the Shawnee nation (her Shawnee name was Tecumsepah, her Anglo name was Margaret)."

Uh-oh Pamela. We might actually be mortal enemies now considering the Cherokee connection my maternal grandfather had. I don't know much Indian history admittedly, but if I remember correctly the supposed paradise and harmony among the natives didn't include the diplomacy between the Cherookee and Shawnee.

I live just a few miles from Jamestown and since the big anniversary celebration is going on, I pick up some items from the local paper. I am no expert by a long shot but here are some facts related to comments on this thread.

1)Almost all Indians died of European borne disease---they were not 'slaughtered'.
2)The disease killed them not because the Europeans were 'especially dirty' as someone appears to believe, but because the had no immunity to these diseases being separated from the Eurasian mainlnd for thousands of years.
3)The great Spanish conquests could not have been achieved had not most of the Indians already died of disease.
4)The first Jamestown settler came looking for gold. They were not farmers but younger sons of gentry. The older brothers got Dad's money because of primogeniture.
5)They settled on swampy, disease ridden Jamestown Island because the Indians disdained settling there, knowing it was not good land, and because they had been instructed by the East India Company to settle in a place where ocean going ships good bring supplies directly.
6)They starved miserably. One man killed his pregrnant wife and ate her and her fetus to stay alive. Digging up corpses from graves for food was common.
7)The Indians did not kill them off because they liked their trinkets used for trade.
8)These people were very, very, far from cruel conquerors, and, witness John Smith and Pocahontas, they were not 'racists', as the German media would love them to have been.

These are just a few things off the top of my head.

By the way, it is my impression that most German 'knowledge' about our Indians comes from Karl Mai who never went further west than Buffalo N.Y.

@Sagredo

"1)Almost all Indians died of European borne disease---they were not 'slaughtered'.
2)The disease killed them not because the Europeans were 'especially dirty' as someone appears to believe, but because the had no immunity to these diseases being separated from the Eurasian mainlnd for thousands of years."

The FAZ forums used to be interesting until they were neutered in Orwellian "Newspeak" fashion to eliminate any possibility of unseemly squabbling over America. They were frequented by some "colorful" out-and-out Nazis who ranted about how "the Jew" was responsible for this, and "the Jew" was guilty of that instead of the unemployed former STASI one finds on the SPON forums. I had a discussion with one of these enlightened FAZ readers about the "slaughter" of the Indians by the whites, for whose misdeeds, as we all know, the United States is directly and miraculously responsible, never mind the fact that it wasn't founded until more than 150 years later. This charming brownshirt was determined to maximize the number of Indians "slaughtered" by citing the highest possible figures of pre-Columbian populations in North America claimed in the ongoing debate between the "high counters" and the "low counters." Like other troglodyte German America haters, he eagerly seized on the latest maximum possible figure as the "real population." He never seemed to notice that both "high counters" and "low counters" of any scientific credibility agreed that, by the time that significant populations of Europeans appeared on the continent, a high percentage of the original population had already succumbed to disease. The Frenchman Marquette encountered only scattered small villages in the fertile Mississippi valley in his expedition down that river to within about 700 km of the Gulf of Mexico in 1673. Similarly small populations were encountered by other explorers, accounting for the very low population estimates of around a million that appeared at the beginning of the last century, and have since been rejected by most scholars.

In a word, you're right. When it comes to "slaughter," the Indians gave as well as they got, often with interest. Their prowess as fighters was highly respected by their European opponents, as I'm sure General Braddock would have agreed. In the end they were pushed back by sheer weight of numbers, after their original populations were decimated by European diseases against which they had no resistance.

Sagredo, in the case of the Incas, they were in the middle of a civil war when Pizarro landed. The previous Lord Inca ("Sapa Inca") died without naming a successor, and a series of cousins were vying for the position. And they were REALLY serious about it! Then small pox decimated the people who were left, leaving the Inca Empire wide open for a take-over.

The "Aztecs" were in the midst of a political division when Cortez landed. The position of Revered Speaker, the title of the high priest of Quezalcoatl, a position with as much local political power as the Pope had in the Catholic parts of Europe, had traditionally belonged to a family whose eldest son, Prince Black Flower of Texcoco, was expected to be elected when his father died. However, due to some sort of political maneuvering that isn't fully understood today, the convocation of priests of Quezalcoatl elected Montezuma of the Mexic tribe, which moved the seat of power from Texcoco to the Mexic city of Tenochtitlan. When Cortez used information gleaned from a prior contact with the "real" Aztecs (a small coastal tribe) to land on a holy day and confuse Montezuma, the Spaniards were able to band up with the Texcocos under Prince Black Feather. Cortez himself died, but the Spaniards succeeded in their invasion because of help from Black Black Feather's frustrated political ambitions ("If I can't have it all, NO ONE can have it! Whaaah!".

Geesh... I can't believe I changed Black Flower's name in the middle of that last post! LOL!

@icarus
Uh-oh Pamela. We might actually be mortal enemies now considering the Cherokee connection my maternal grandfather had

jeez, I should have paid more attention to this thread over the days.

No, we are not mortal enemies. Although my Shawnee ancestors lived before the time, you may know of the great Shawnee chief, Tecumsah.

His mother was Cherokee. Captured in a raid and 'adopted' into the tribe. I've got her name around here somewhere - I'll see if I can find it.

Oh, and that 'Brother Joseph' crap or 'Prophet' or whatever it was - complete fraud.

One more thing - this is a great thread - people who know their stuff - I'm bookmarking it for future arguments

Actually the latest National Geographic issue featured Jamestown. re: Sagredo's #5, according to the author, the settlers were told to choose land in an area so as to not offend the local Indians. Often times the Indians refrained from attacking the whites not out of charity and humanity, but from the belief that the whites were soon to self-destruct, given the extreme hardships that decimated the initial settlers.

To me, believing in a utopian pre-Euro pan existence of the natives borders on condescension and smacks of patronization. As any humans, the Indians were capable of shrew political manoeuvring as they sometimes forged alliances with the Europeans out of sheer self-interest; the plan being to get the whites to do the heavy lifting against tribe B, assuming that they could sit back and position themselves to be on top after both the whites and tribe "B" exhausted their own resources in a costly war. There is no denying the motivation of the Europeans to convert the natives and go away with their pagan, non-Christian culture and the sorrowful means taken to that end, but the fact remains that many times the Indians simply rolled the dice and lost because they underestimated the abilities and resources of the Europeans.

@Icarus, re: "...borders on condescension and smacks of patronization. As any humans, the Indians were capable of shrew political manoeuvring as they sometimes forged alliances with the Europeans out of sheer self-interest...(snip)... but the fact remains that many times the Indians simply rolled the dice and lost because they underestimated the abilities and resources of the Europeans."

Exactly. If they were on the coast, they saw the one or three or five ships that landed, and didn't see the hundred other ships over the horizon.

In Texcoco, Prince Black Flower's mistake was in thinking he could take out Cortez' people after defeating Montezuma, since he only counted Cortez' ships and a few strays that arrived a bit later. He didn't know that there was an entire civilization of Spaniards just a short hop across the Gulf of Mexico. He made a huge political gamble and helped betray his entire civilization. ;)

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