Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Belated Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day

Please accept my belated best wishes for a wonderful Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Being a congregant at the Church of the Liberal Pieties you have surely overcome the brutally racist holiday called Columbus Day and spent yesterday mooning over the wonderful contributions that indigenous peoples made to civilization. 

Just in case some of these contributions slipped your mind, Michael Graham has amassed a compendium for The Federalist (via Maggie’s Farm).

Here are a few:

When thinking of pre-Columbian America, forget what you’ve seen in the Disney movies. Think “slavery, cannibalism and mass human sacrifice.” From the Aztecs to the Iroquois, that was life among the indigenous peoples before Columbus arrived.

For all the talk from the angry and indigenous about European slavery, it turns out that pre-Columbian America was virtually one huge slave camp. According to “Slavery and Native Americans in British North America and the United States: 1600 to 1865,” by Tony Seybert, “Most Native American tribal groups practiced some form of slavery before the European introduction of African slavery into North America.”

“Enslaved warriors sometimes endured mutilation or torture that could end in death as part of a grief ritual for relatives slain in battle. Some Indians cut off one foot of their captives to keep them from running away.”

Things changed when the Europeans arrived, however: “Indians found that British settlers… eagerly purchased or captured Indians to use as forced labor. More and more, Indians began selling war captives to whites.”

That’s right: Pocahontas and her pals were slave traders. If you were an Indian lucky enough to be sold to a European slave master, that turned out to be a good thing, relatively speaking. At least you didn’t end up in a scene from “Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom.”

Ritual human sacrifice was widespread in the Americas. The Incas, for example, practiced ritual human sacrifice to appease their gods, either executing captive warriors or “their own specially raised, perfectly formed children,” according to Kim MacQuarrie, author of “The Last Days of the Incas.”…

At the re-consecration of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs performed a mass human sacrifice of an estimated 80,000 enslaved captives in four days.

By now you are in high dudgeon over the fact that these great civilizations were brought to rack and ruin by European conquerors. But, at the least you will understand that those who stood tall and proud for indigenous peoples’ day yesterday had taken complete leave of their senses and their rational faculties. They care little for facts or for the reality of these civilizations. They prefer to worship at the altar of the Noble Savage. Said Savage is their own special fiction about the world seen through the haze of their illusions.

Graham continues:

According to an eyewitness account of “indigenous peoples” at work—in this case, the Iroquois in 1642, as observed by the Rev. Father Barthelemy Vimont’s “The Jesuit Relations”—captives had their fingers cut off, were forced to set each other on fire, had their skinned stripped off and, in one captured warrior’s case, “the torture continued throughout the night, building to a fervor, finally ending at sunrise by cutting his scalp open, forcing sand into the wound, and dragging his mutilated body around the camp. When they had finished, the Iroquois carved up and ate parts of his body.”

Shocked? Don’t be. Cannibalism was also fairly common in the New World before (and after) Columbus arrived. According to numerous sources, the name “Mohawk” comes from the Algonquin for “flesh eaters.” Anthropologist Marvin Harris, author of “Cannibals and Kings,” reports that the Aztecs viewed their prisoners as “marching meat.”

I hope your Indigenous Peoples’ Day was as nice as mine. It sounds like an outline for the next Darren Aronofsky movie.


art.the.nerd said...

Columbus and America post-1492 are an object lesson in what happens to a culture when the border is unsecured and it is overrun by illegal immigrants.

Tongue in cheek, but with a grain of truth.

Sam L. said...

Ah, the noble savage! Only as seen at a great distance.