Native American Indians – A story of genocide and betrayal.

Native American Indians – A story of genocide and betrayal.

 

As a young boy I was brought up on Westerns. The red Indians were savages who attacked settlers and stage coaches with the intent of scalping everybody. They whooped and were quite stupid. They rode around while the cowboys shot them. We used to play cowboys and Indians in the streets. The cowboys had rifles and the Indians had bows and arrows. It was seen as a fair fight.

It was a portrayal that bore only scant resemblance to the truth.

The Native American Indians were a disparate group of tribes. They, along with the entire indigenous population of South America, have, determined through DNA analysis, descended from just seventeen breeding males. At some point these intrepid individuals made the hazardous journey across the Bering Straits into Canada. They probably originated as a band of hunter/gatherers; a group of men, women and children who set out to follow the game and hunt. They were self-contained. It was once thought that they were able to pass through certain passes that opened up after the ice retreated but that theory has been replaced by the idea that they probably came down the coast and used canoes to leapfrog their way down. They made their way from Canada, along North, Central and South America right down to Tierra Del Fuego – some journey in flimsy canoes full of men, women, children and all their possessions.

Having settled in various parts of North, Central and South America they adjusted to the local conditions and developed their own varied life-styles accordingly.

In North America on the East Coast there were agriculturally based. These are the tribes that took in the Pilgrim Fathers and fed and sustained them through that first winter. Without their assistance none would have survived the winter. These were also the tribes that were wiped out by the disease the Europeans brought with them, diseases that the Native American Indians had no defence against – measles, influenza, common cold, syphilis, smallpox and chicken pox. Some reward for their compassion and altruism.

On the West Coast there were established villages with fishing as a major life-style – extending up through Oregon, Washington to Siberia and the Inuits.

In the South they established settlements with pueblos, farming and the planting of corn.

But it is the Plains Indians that captured the imagination and set the image. Their nomadic life was played out on horse-back (horses having been introduced by the Spanish) following the vast buffalo herds as they migrated across the oceans of prairie. It was this heroic life-style that set the tone. They were brave, strong and daring as they galloped bareback in the huge herds where to fall was death under the thundering hooves. They brought down the huge beasts with bow and arrow and their prowess and skill was legendary. Their clothes were made of buffalo hide, as were their tepees. They ate buffalo meat and preserved it as dried meat for the winter. They even used dry buffalo dung as fuel for the fires.

I wanted to be an American Indian. That was the life for me. Free under that vast sky, at one with my horse, hunting and laughing with my comrades. It was every male youth’s dream, wasn’t it?

Well perhaps not. In reality it was a hard life. The risk of injury and death was always present. It was a dangerous occupation. And if you were injured there were no hospitals. Food was plentiful at times and absent at others. There were periods of starvation. The winters were cruel and disease always prevalent. You had to defend your territory against other tribes in order to maintain sufficient land to support you. You usually died young.

But what a life!

As the Europeans set up their cities on the East Coast and started to expand they increasingly intruded on the Native American lands. There was a clash of cultures. The Europeans felt superior. They had technology. They farmed intensively. They built great buildings. The Indians lived a simpler life. They had their rituals and social codes but they were nomadic and did not leave much in the way of artefacts to show any great civilisation. Their civilisation was in their customs and practice.

The Europeans had gunpowder and guns. The Indians had bows and arrows.

What followed was an indictment of American European culture. The Indians were forcibly removed from their traditional lands on the pretext that they were not using them. The understanding of the needs and practice of a hunter/gatherer society was lacking.

The white settlers intruded into Indian lands and set up home. Any resistance was met by force. When the Indians tried to repel the settlers the army was used. They used their artillery and rifles to decimate whole tribes, they used blankets infested with small-pox to remove tribes, and practiced genocide. Treaties were made promising the land for as long as the grass grew and then were torn up when it proved not convenient. The Indians were hounded, harried and destroyed.

One of the tactics used was to remove the buffalo that the Indians lifestyle depended on. It was a government policy. These buffalo roamed in herds of millions. Hunters went out to systematically destroy them, trains passed through vast herds with guns firing out of every window. The herds were devastated. The prairies were covered with rotting corpses of buffalo – all to bring the Indians to their knees.

The buffalo were almost extinct. The vast herds of millions reduced to a few stragglers. It is reminiscent of what is happening to the Africa elephant.

It worked.

It destroyed the culture and lifestyle, removed the future, and brought the Native American Indians down. Their tale is one of tragedy. The American government’s policy of genocide is one of callous infamy.

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In the USA in both paperback and digital:

6 thoughts on “Native American Indians – A story of genocide and betrayal.

  1. Remember reading Dee Brown’s book ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’ as if it was yesterday. Same in Australia. These lands were known as Terra Nullius because nobody who lived there owned them. Property really did turn out to be theft …

    1. I remember that book well. The treatment of the American Indians was shameful. But then Westerners have treated most indigenous people terribly. The broken treaties, greed and cruelty was despicable.

  2. Some corrections need to be made as not all of the above is strictly accurate and it is a lot more complicated on the accountancy of people as I explain below.
    Apparently white European people came and slaughtered all the indigenous Indians and gave them blankets infected with small pox. This is entirely false.
    Immediately one should be aware that this is now a $3 Billion annual windfall guilt trip religion scene plus many tax free subsidies. 9,000 USA employees manage the one million Indians living on reservations. They’ve gone from hunter-gatherers of bison to hunter-gatherers of white gamblers in their casinos.

    It is also untrue about them bringing down buffalo with bow and arrow. What they did more often was ride side on to the buffalo and hit it on the top of the head with a rock attached to rope causing instant death to the beast.

    Correction.
    Firstly, there was an influx of people’s from south-east Asia whom had sailed over to South America and settled. This is immediately determined just by comparing the looks of people. For example, in Peru the indigenous people are very similar in facial features to one of the Indian creeds found in Indonesia and Polynesia. In 2016 it was officially confirmed that the Amazonian populations had admixture from Australia and Melanesia.
    The peoples who first settled the northern extremes of North America and Greenland derived from later migrant populations than those who penetrated farther south in the Americas.
    The over-all pattern that is emerging suggests that the Americas were colonized by a small number of individuals effective size of about 70 (not seventeen as stated above) which grew by a factor of 10 over 800 – 1000 years. The data also shows that there have been genetic exchanges between Asia, the Arctic, and Greenland since the initial peopling of the Americas.
    The north American Indians were initially populated by peoples from Siberia, between 26,000 and 18,000 years ago, who had travelled by a land bridge from Asia. After the last ice age when sea levels rose the bridge disappeared.

    The author wrote – “These were also the tribes that were wiped out by the disease the Europeans brought with them, diseases that the Native American Indians had no defence against – measles, influenza, common cold, syphilis, smallpox and chicken pox. Some reward for their compassion and altruism.”

    By 1500, before the arrival of the white Europeans, it is estimated the entire continent population – USA and Canada, was 1.5 to 2 million. Semi-nomadic tribes would have multiple settlements and simply were not always based in one area. Most of north America’s fertile lands were unoccupied. The calculation to configure the Indian population is based on global averages of population density for hunter-gatherers which is 0.1 persons per square kilometre which equals just under two million people in north America.
    The North American fur trade during the 16th century brought many more European men, from France, Ireland, and Great Britain, who took North Amerindian women as wives.
    By 1853 there were 401,000. By 1860 at 340,000 and 1880 at 306,000. Which means the population had dropped by a huge 1.7 million in just under 400 years. That’s a decline of about 0.22% per year. However, hunter-gatherer populations once they reach environmental carrying capacity – the amount the local ecological environment can support, growth is basically zero. There are three possibilities for population decline, dying off, low birth rates and intermarriage with Europeans.
    In 2014 there were 200 million non-Hispanic whites in America, on average containing 0.18% Native American genes. This is the equivalent of 356,000 full Natives ‘contained’ inside the genetics. white population. For US blacks it is only 31,000, less than a tenth of the white population. Latinos in USA have 18% Native American, but most likely not from north America. The 50.5 million Latinos carry the genetics of 9 million Native Americans.
    In 2014, those who directly self-reported as Native American number just under 3 million.
    In summary, over a few hundred years, the European control of North America has increased Native American genetic expression enormously. That is nothing of the kind as genocide. Genocide is when the gene pool gets wiped out, not when it flourishes through admixture and spread into the host population.
    Native American Indians have the lowest birth rate out of all the ethnicities and 58% have had an mixed race marriage.
    Female Native American mitochondrial DNA were kept largely intact which is another major sign of any lack of genocide. Families remained intact and women were not killed in general.
    Over the hundreds of years of close contact the Native American female hypergamy might have triggered desire to mate with a white European because he had superior technology, better food, better medicine etc.

    S.C. Gwynne, author of Empire Of The Summer Moon, has said about the Comanche, “No tribe in the history of Spanish, French, Mexican, Texan and American occupations of this land had ever caused so much havoc and death. None was even a close second.
    The demonic immorality of Comanche attacks on white settlers, where they usually tortured, killed or gang-raped their victims.
    In South Dakota, a mass grave was discovered of 500 scalped and mutilated men, women and children all from the 14th century – long before the white’s arrived. Native Indian culture very much had its own severely negative traits.

    Disease:
    The incredible situation was that these Old World germs carried by the travelling settlers raced ahead of them before their arrival and destroyed. The Plymouth colony leader John Winthrop claimed that upon their arrival they only found some 50 Indians in 300 miles, the rest having died from smallpox. It was a genuine tragedy of nature.
    Initially relations between the Indians and Europeans were not too bad. The Europeans wanting to spread Christianity and the Indians not particularly interested.
    By far the biggest divisions were cultural with the Indians at an estimated 7,000 years behind the European, social, cultural and technological development. They were very primitive with almost no form of written language except symbolism.
    Often many adult Natives were incapacitated by disease and others who relied on their food gathering would die of starvation.
    The Natives who were exposed to the germ pathogens brought those pathogens to everywhere else in North America and many European explorers and settlers found endless abandoned settlements.
    Estimates are that 75-90% of all Native deaths resulted from disease, plus starvation
    The stories of deliberate infection via “smallpox blankets” are based entirely on two letters from British soldiers in 1763 – long after smallpox had peaked and there is no evidence of a significant outbreak as a result of this theoretical bio weapon.

    Further recent scientific discoveries have revealed that following discoveries in Peru, bacterial genome sequences harvested from human remains seem to indicate that seals first brought tuberculosis to humans in the Americas.
    Also in 1801, the American government tried to inoculate the Natives against smallpox, the vaccine having been first developed in the late 1700’s. For three decades they tried, but Natives feared it was a trick, so it was slow going, but the programme did effectively action the reduction of death from smallpox. This was certainly not an act of genocide.

    It wasn’t always so quite one-sided. In 1675 there was a Native attack that slaughtered 25% of the entire white population of Connecticut.
    The Natives valued bravery so killed anyone that surrendered. Many were tortured before being eaten as part of a ceremonial meal.
    During King Philip’s War – 1675-76 – was the costliest of all American wars, killing one in every sixteen men of military age in the colonies as well as large numbers of women and children who were killed or enslaved.
    Out of New England’s 90 towns, 52 were attacked, 17 burned to the ground and 25 pillaged.
    White people were not permitted to go around killing without impunity. In Boston in 1676 four men were tried for murdering three Native women and three children and two of the men were executed.

    In 1689 some stronger Native tribes allied with the French against the British.
    In 1754, encouraged by French spies, the Natives started the Seven Years War against whites, killing and capturing thousands.
    In 1862 the Sioux tribe revolted, killing, raping and pillaging all over the countryside.
    The discovery of gold in California pushed Natives into less fertile lands and began to starve and attack settlers. Native women turned to prostitution, exacerbating the demographic decline.
    The whites because they could not stave off the Native attacks on the plains would attack and destroy Native food stores in the winter. This was the impetus for the initial reservation system.
    In 1891 the last Sioux warriors surrendered and that was about the end of it.

    Bison hunting:
    Bison hunting (hunting of the American bison, also commonly known as the American buffalo) was an activity fundamental to the economy and society of the Plains Indians peoples who inhabited the vast grasslands on the Interior Plains of North America, prior to the animal’s near-extinction in the late nineteenth century. Even a number of Indians west of the continental divide crossed the Rocky Mountains in traditional tribal hunts on the Northern Great Plains. The species’ dramatic decline was the result of habitat loss due to the expansion of ranching and farming in western North America, industrial-scale hunting practiced by non-indigenous hunters, increased indigenous hunting pressure due to non-indigenous demand for bison hides and meat, and even cases of deliberate policy by settler governments to destroy the food source of the native Indian peoples during times of conflict.
    Trains were first introduced in America in 1830, by which time the majority of Native Indians had already been designated their territory.
    After the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, the west experienced a large boom in colonist population—and a large decline in bison population. As railways expanded, military troops and supplies were able to be transported more efficiently to the Plains region. Some railroads even hired commercial hunters to feed their laborers. William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, for example, was hired by the Kansas Pacific Railroad for this reason. Hunters began arriving in masses, and trains would often slow down on their routes to allow for raised hunting. Men would either climb aboard the roofs of trains or fire shots at herds from outside their windows. As a description of this from Harper’s Weekly noted: “The train is ‘slowed’ to a rate of speed about equal to that of the herd; the passengers get out fire-arms which are provided for the defense of the train against the Indians, and open from the windows and platforms of the cars a fire that resembles a brisk skirmish.” The railroad industry also wanted bison herds culled or eliminated. Herds of bison on tracks could damage locomotives when the trains failed to stop in time. Herds often took shelter in the artificial cuts formed by the grade of the track winding through hills and mountains in harsh winter conditions. As a result, bison herds could delay a train for days.
    The killing of the buffalo wasn’t actually any such an action of bringing Native Indians to their knees, as previously described. There are many myths appertaining to the plight of the Indian and this was another.

    1. Thank you Timothy for your highly detailed account. Great stuff. I’m surprised to hear that you don’t think smallpox blankets were handed out. I have read that in a number of sources.
      Yes I know about the buffalo killing rocks. I wrote about one in a recently published anecdote of a Native American Indian girl I met on a greyhound bus who showed me one.
      Thanks again.

      1. No, the smallpox blankets as I said, I’m certain the whole story arose from these two letters sent by rank and file soldiers. I have never seen the letters or read any direct transcripts, therefore, cannot ascertain the context of which they wrote of this. Perhaps it was wishful thinking as they may have been involved in frequent skirmishes and probably would have wished for an end to it. All these sources are all from the same – these letters and a gross untruth of fact. There has never been any other references to this as found made by any other persons and it would perhaps be conclusive to note of nothing found in any official local government archives. Plus the fact that it could have proved a very costly mistake were such blankets – and there would have to be a great number – had fallen into the wrong hands and to my mind a most foolish undertaking.

        I read your piece of the girl on the bus. However, I would suggest these stones used to kill buffalo were a great deal larger and heavier than that rather small stone the girl had in her bag. That wouldn’t have tickled a buffalo’s ear!
        Interestingly, the Australian Aborigine’s also used the same technique to kill animals.
        It can also be said that similar to the plight of the north American Native Indian, a great deal of false information has blurred the truth of their demise also.
        In fact, they were very much their own worst enemy in many respects and had followed a doctrine almost akin to that of Pol Pot and his regime, where if anybody questioned the beliefs – which begged for questioning – they were usually killed.
        This meant that their entire culture never developed an inch in some forty thousand years! I don’t apologise for having very little sympathy for them as a group, as individuals, yes, but not as a group.
        If you head up the post, I would write something about them.

      2. Timothy – the rock the girl showed me was large – about the size of a honeydew melon, with a groove around the middle. I can well imagine it being heavy enough to stun a bison. She said they stunned then with the stone by swirling it around and bringing it down on the animals head with great force. They would then dismount and slit its throat with a knife. A terrifying thing to do in the midst of a stampeding herd of bison.
        If you would like to forward a piece I would be happy to publish it.

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