First, some background
Violent conflict didn’t suddenly manifest itself upon native people at the moment Europeans arrived in the Americas. Native Americans (Indians) were at war with one another for thousands of years before the white man appeared, and if the reader has ever engaged a modern Indian in conversation, then they know that tribal groups continue to regard one another contemptuously. When European settlers first arrived, they found a stone-aged people who were quite content with their lifestyle and long held stone age traditions. Native people may have marveled at European technologies and trinkets, but beyond the use of the white man’s firesticks for hunting, against whites and other Indians, they had little interest in modernization until it was forced upon them.
Today, in the United States alone, there are 574 federally recognized Indian “nations,” which are variously referred to as tribes, nations, bands, pueblos, and villages. The word “nation” and “tribe” are synonymous. Indian bands are subsets of tribes. The words band, clan, and village also have identical meanings. Anthropologists tell us that it was common among stone age people to limit the size of their social groups, necessary as a tool for being able to house, feed, and/or control the group.
Indians found in the eastern regions and midland plain of North America were nomadic people. Woodland and plains Indian bands usually consisted of no more than 50 people. Whenever the band’s population grew beyond that, which is to say that whenever the birth rate exceeded the death rate, clan or band members were sent away to form new groups of their own. By “sent away,” these new groups remained close enough to maintain their ethnic and cultural ties with the tribe, but far enough away so as not to impinge on the original band’s hunting grounds.
Indians in the west were more settled. Navajo and some Apache groups constructed semi-permanent dwellings and established productive farms. Most Indians, however, were hunters and gatherers, which means that they moved with the seasons — following the herds needed to sustain them, while gathering the vegetation that became part of their regular diets. It was this continual movement of woodland and plains Indians that frequently brought tribal groups into conflict with each other.
As with all other human groups, adult men and women divided their labors to sustain the group. The work of Indian men was to hunt for meat and protect the village. Indians often had multiple interpersonal relationships which resulted in relatively high birth rates, but infant mortality rates were also high — which might explain Indian polygamy. The traditional role of women (also, squaw) was birthing, raising children, cooking, making, or mending clothes, gathering firewood, hauling water, and tending to agricultural interests. There was nothing easy about living in the wilderness, sheltered by little more than animal skin tents, or having to depend on migrating herds of animals as a food staple.
Indian leadership involved village/band headmen and tribal chiefs of which there were often several. One “chief” might have had domestic responsibilities, another in charge of organizing and leading hunting parties. A war chief to defend or assault external threats. Indian leaders were often chosen within a governing council of elders; a head chief presumably led this council. There were also influential medicine men or women whose wisdom and influence often rivaled those of the tribal or clan chiefs. Together, Indian leaders supervised activities that achieved the will of the council of elders, maintained traditions, made judicial determinations.
The role of the war chief may seem self-evident, but it is important to note that there was no fixed tribal territory. Indian tribes followed migratory sources of food. They did not respect the claims of other tribes — and if the survival of the tribe depended on taking control of another tribes’ territory — so be it. Indian conflicts were common enough to force tribal groups to form alliances and confederations for their mutual protection. One example of this was the Algonquin and Iroquois nations, who detested one another with unbridled passion.
Despite their somewhat sophisticated tribal structure, individual Indian males retained their independence — no male Indian was obligated to comply with any ruling of the tribal council or chief. A war chief, for example, could not force any brave to join a war party; it was more on the order of young men wanting to join the war party as a demonstration of his manliness and his courage.
On the other hand, if an Indian brave believed that his chief was weak, unwise, or dishonest, he was free to challenge the chief, free to pursue a separate agenda. Note: this fact helps to explain the “renegade” brave who was free to create his own mischief with other tribal groups or hostilities directed toward white settlers. The only consequence imposed on a renegade who did not wish to participate in various tribal activities was that he (and his women, if he had any) had to leave the band. Tribal exile was the primary consequence of male independence, an understanding that was taught at a very young age.
Within this (general) structure, American Indians farmed, hunted, and raised their families. Relatively speaking, native American populations were small — fewer than one person per square mile, overall— but competing tribes encountered one another quite frequently, particularly among the horse cultures. Not all contact was hostile, of course. There were trade relationships, celebrations, and marriages. When conflicts did occur, it was likely to right a wrong, involving territorial issues, or the theft of a horse, perhaps. If there was one thing the Indians excelled at, it was stealing.
Once hostilities erupted, however, they often lasted for decades. The arrival of Europeans wasn’t immediately traumatic for the Indians, but it did introduce another dynamic into the Indian’s way of life — another human group that had to be dealt with. Some Indian bands accepted white settlers as useful allies, while other Indian groups viewed the whiles as interlopers. Indian alliances with Europeans became another source of conflict among Indian tribes/bands.
Where we are, and how we got here
The relationship between Europeans and Indians was always a prickly affair. For nearly 200 years, the Spanish explorers/settlers in Mexico ignored the Texas/New Mexico Indians for as long as possible. Until Mexico invited the Anglo-Americans to populate Texas, the Plains Indians always outnumbered Spanish populations and there was very little Spanish Mexico could do about the frequent Indian raids targeting Mexico’s northern-most settlements. In New France, French explorers were well aware of their minority and more or less bent over backwards to accommodate native peoples. The British were the exception. The influx of Englishmen into the British Colonies produced two immediate effects: an effort by the British to form Indian alliances against the French and their Indian allies, and the movement of Indians from eastern areas into the western territories.
By the birth of the United States, government officials were used to dealing with Indians; Indian Agents became part of the early structure of the Department of the Interior and the War Department. This was necessary because most founding fathers believed, in one fashion or another, that it was the United States’ manifest destiny to control the North American continent. Unfortunately, the Indians were in the way. Within the first fifty years of the birth of the United States, government officials decided that three things must happen to end their troubled relationship with the Indians. Either these indigenous people would have to forsake thousands of years of their culture and tradition and assimilate European society, they would have to die by any means available, or they would have to agree to live on reservations.
The Indians would not give up their land, their right to live according to their own traditions, without a fight. Since the Europeans were not going back to where they came from, conflict not only inevitable, but it was also more or less constant. The further west these whites traveled, the more desperate the Indians became. After 1830 and lasting well into the 1880s and 1890s, the American government adopted a no-nonsense Indian removal policy. The Indians would either agree to live on reservations, with all the benefits promised to them by the federal government, or they would be killed.
Indians and Americans soon learned two things about one another. From the Indian perspective, that whites could not be trusted to honor negotiated settlements. From the American government’s perception, the Indian was a barbarian who depredations upon “innocent settlements” could not and would not be tolerated.
Life on Indian reservations was more difficult than it was living within the forests, along the rivers, or on the vast American plain. Despite large tracts of land initially set aside for the Indians, which dwindled in size with each new treaty, the reservations were completely unsuitable to the Indian lifestyle because for the first time ever, the Indian lost his freedom of movement.
To pacify and encourage Indians to stay on the reservation (which were somewhat similar to the concentration camps of a later period), the US government promised to provide the Indians with food, shelter, goods, cash, and armed protection from other tribes and renegade whites. Missionaries and educators worked hard to strip the Indian of his culture, tradition, and history. Some of these efforts were successful, but most were not. When it was impossible to convert the Indian to Christianity, some Indian agents gave them whiskey in steady dosages … to keep them docile and in place, to make the reliant upon the government … to enslave them to the good graces of the federal government.
Among government leaders, federal benefits were always subject to later modification, which the Indians correctly claimed as a breach of properly negotiated treaty. From the Indian perspective, reservation life was disastrous. Conflicts among reservation tribes increased, but worse than all these things, the government’s policy robbed the Indian of their spirituality.
Black Plantations (also known as ghettos)
Indian reservations today are as bad (or worse) than any urban slum — both created by Democrat administrations (federal, state, and city) under strikingly similar strategies. I cannot say that purge is the goal of the federal government under Democrat administrations — it is certainly not their stated goal, but the effects of Indian reservations and Black plantations do seem to accomplish that very thing. Let’s review:
- American Indians today are among the least healthy populations, followed by black Americans. Together, Indians and Negroes are the least educated and the most addicted to alcohol and drugs. Both own the dubious distinction of the highest per capita unemployment.
- Despite their racial and ethnic dissimilarities, Indians and Negroes live in squalor; they suffer the same health conditions. 17.4% of Indian populations are in poor health; 13.8% of blacks are in poor health. The rate of HIV infection among Indians is twice the national average; 80% of African-American women are obese while 30% of Indians are likely to die from diseases associated with obesity. Native Americans are three times likely to have diabetes and 2.5 times more likely to die from it; forty-two percent of African Americans suffer from hypertension.
Living in hovels can’t help.
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