A Conversation for The Great Sioux Nation and Mount Rushmore

Native Americans

Post 41

Math - Playing Devil's Advocate

I put the quote there because I like it, because to me it seems logical, and suggests that as time goes by people will form more inclusive societies, eventualy reaching the point where all people are in one society, with some degree of respect for each other, equality, but just as importantly individuality, and so on. I happen to believe this is a positive thought.

I would not suggest that at all times in all places has society changed towards larger and more complex forms, as you rightly suggest the dark ages are proof of this. I can see your contention about a cyclic nature to european history, however as far as I can see there is still the underlying trend towards larger and more complex societies.

However as both of those points are pure opinion I think we will continue to disagree, and I suggest we simply agree to do so, unless you feel you have some weight of evidence that will change my mind, for my part the book I mentioned contains a far better argument than I can present.

As to the question when does a people become the native people, you answered with "I think it's when the roots of a people tap deeply into the land upon which they dwell so that when you uproot them, like plants, they tend to die and do not transplant well" (I know there was more but I have refuted all of it once without being listend to, and I dislike repeating myself, however I will rephrase this without an attempt to answer myself). As I have stated I feel this does not answer the question without further definition, or perhaps it could be conisidered a whole new question, how does one find out that a people are at this point, without uprooting them to find out if they tend to die ?


Native Americans

Post 42


Perhaps there is no good, short definition of native acceptable here. And since the discussion seems irrevocably focused on terminologies, it might be wise just to approach the issue in a little more comprehensive manner, if somewhat oblique fashion.

Very well.

Let's begin with my friend, Rusty. As I mentioned previously, her people have occupied the Great Basin for thousands of years. Recent archeological evidence suggests that rather than these people having passed across the Bering Strait during the last ice age, they probably arrived a good deal earlier.

While ice advances present opportunities to pass across the land bridge, the continental icecap presents an even more formidable barrier than strait when it's flooded. Consequently, the travel both to and from the western hemisphere probably occurred not during ice advances but during the mild interglacial periods in between. This is confirmed most recently with the movement of Athabascans speakers during the early part of the current interglacial period, not during the ice advance that preceeded it.

This is an example of how you have to deal with one of the unfortunate misconceptions fostered in the early 20th century about the native people of the Americas. There are more.

When whites first encountered Rusty's people they did not esteem them. They called them "diggers" because of their use of long pointed sticks to dig eatable roots out of the ground. In no way did the whites appreciate the richness of their culture that allowed them to subsist in an environment that advanced white agriculture can still not tame.

Much of the land is over 4000 feet in elevation and extremely arid. The growing seasons are short and relatively unproductive for anything other than native plants, which the "diggers" utilized along with small and medium game to provide a wholesome and nutritious diet.

When the whites finally took more than a dismissive interest in the "diggers", they found them "destitute" which they wrongly attributed to their "backward" or "primitive" culture. In fact, the destitution was a consequence of the destruction of this finely balanced environment by white intrusion. Native seed plants were destroyed along with the game so that in time neither the "diggers" nor the whites could prosper on the land without importing cattle. The cattle in turn have posed a overgrazing problem so the whites still haven't got the procedure right.

The "diggers" were also often shot by the whites for "sport" and their women were abused. This caused them in time to retaliate by stealing white stock and other provisions and attacking white immigrant trains or charging tribute for safe conduct through the "waterless wastes".

In response to this the government sent certain whites to convince the "diggers" to remain peaceful. The argument was that all whites weren't alike and the problems were being caused by "bad whites". If the "digger" people would just leave the "bad whites" alone, the government would deal them. This promise was documented in a treaty proposed in 1863 and finally ratified in 1869.

It was also recognized that the "digger" people "owned" a vast region of thousands of square miles corresponding roughly to the present state of Nevada and portions of Utah and California. The government promised to reserve land within this region for the people so that they could progress unmolested by the white encroachment. Money and goods were also promised to compensate for the land already "lost".

To this day, the provisions of the treaty have not been met for the most part. The treatment is rather similar to what the Lakota people experienced at the mercy of the government. In the case of the "diggers" the government even proposed that they move out of their ancestral territory and join other Shoshone speakers at the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho.

This they would not do. Instead the majority simply continued to live on the periphery of white settlement following their ancient ways while slowly adapting to the environment the immigrants had created.

They are still there claiming their treaty rights under the theory that the treaty is the supreme law of the land under which their claims ought to be adjudicated. The government has, instead of honoring the treaty, tried to substitute legislative acts, laws, regulations or concurrent resolutions diluting the promises of the treaty. Or the government has simply ignored the issues.

But the "diggers" persist. In recent years some of them have challenged the government's right to charge them fees for grazing their meager cattle herds on land designated as "public domain". The people assert that the "public domain" is in fact their land that has never been alloted or homesteaded or otherwise settled by whites or given up by the people, so there has never been an excuse for the government to place it in the "public domain" or keep it there in the first place, at least not under the provisions of the treaty the government itself wrote and ratified.

However, instead of returning the land, the government has attempted on numerous occasions to offer monetary compensation at mid-nineteenth century appraisals. Understandably the people have mostly rejected these offers. And that's about where things stand now.

This is how things have progressed since the time of Columbus who claimed the land "by right of discovery", a dubious pretext at best, since the land was not "undiscovered" by those who inhabited it. All subsequent legal claim or title to the land by immigrants rests ultimately on this dubious pretext and on the government's assertion that it has the right to seize and hold indian land "in trust" and dispose of it as it sees fit.

The aboriginal inhabitants, who I will term "native" under the doctrine of "prior occupancy" if nothing ellse, have been subjected to genocide, disease epidemics, larceny, murder, rape, cultural disruption, environmental and resource deprivation, and a host of other offenses or injuries, yet they persist in living on the remnants of their land. They don't emmigrate or "assimilate" although some "acculturation" has apparently taken place, as it probably must. I am a living example of "acculturation" incidently so any defects in this analysis you might attribute to that as much as anything else.

I have dwelled at length on this apparent digression because it just might illustrate to the insightful here what "native" might mean in a strictly functional context as opposed to a theoretical construction or definition.

Rusty's people in particular represent a native element of immemorial antiquity who were able to live on their land for thousands of years and hundreds of generations without destroying the delicate balance that sustained all living things in the region. For this consummate accomplishment they have been dismissed as destitute, ignorant, rude, beast-like savages by people who couldn't make their living in Europe with all the "benefits" of advanced technology or normative social theory.

Yet these same "culturally advanced" people can't understand why Rusty's people do not drop everything and show gratitude for the "blessings of civilization" bestowed upon them by the dominant Euroamerican culture. One might suspect a certain inordinant intellectual density has taken hold of this Euroamerican culture in it's frantic search for domination and territory.

But I'm hopeful some may finally be coming around to an appreciation for what a native is and why, and, in so doing, may finally reestablish their own native ties to the earth that have sustained humans quite well in most places until relatively recently. Unless this happens, I fear there will never be enough land or resources to support the dominant culture in its insane quest for more of everything without asking first or giving much if anything back.

Native Americans

Post 43


I'd like to amend some of my comments with a short summary.

First, I don't think we should have to defend our treaty rights. I think it's the whites of America who need to defend what they've done and still do.

Second, I don't really care what you call us. I'm quite frankly sick of your endless quibbling over things that don't really matter anyway.

Finally, I think it's best if we just forget any of this was ever published because it won't make any difference and therefore is quite useless.

I've been told the whites are going to consume the world. Good luck then until you retch. I won't be participating.


Native Americans

Post 44

abbi normal "Putting on the Ritz" with Dr Frankenstein

Once again the answer is 42!
smiley - biggrin IMO summed up by Rita in post 42

With all due respect,I took the liberty of organizing what I saw come out of this thread.
(1)What went wrong and how to fix it.
(2)A division in philosophy of what is inevitable or desirable from here.
(3) Warnings about history repeating itself

I suppose it could be moderated as I have mostly used others comments smiley - erm IMO the discussion is an extremely valuable one. This is a summary.
This says a lot to relate the past to the present;
Saddam Hussein 'used gas against "his own people": Kurds, who were his own people in the sense in which Cherokees were Andrew Jackson's people.'
What you fail to appreciate, I think, is that the treaties carry the same force of law as the Constitution so if people can get away with abrogating or ignoring them, that compromises the whole American system of government.

The model for American expansion in the world was pioneered, literally, on the American frontier. Prudent citizens of the world might take note of that.

RITA - An answer to what can I do now about the past?

I presume you were alive when Norton and colleagues lied about the trust accounts. I assume you were alive when Senator X has been trying to extinguish western Shoshoni land claims. I assume you were alive when the Lakota were offered money for the Black Hills at 1870 prices and, when they rejected the offer, were informed the money would be placed in trust for them because they don't have a choice. You were probably alive when these and many other bad things were happening. Isn't that true?

People today aren't individually responsible for wrongs in the past, but they are collectively responsible to do 'what can be done' to right those wrongs

This is not about the sins of the fathers. This is about the contemporary sin of officially sanctioned avarice and a pattern of abuse that has persisted for centuries.
An important additional aspect from Rita;

South Dakota is among poorest in the nation. The big energy concerns like Union Carbide, Kerr-McGee and maybe a couple of dozen others have looted the mineral resources and returned very little of the profits to the state or its people. The sacred Hills have been sullied in the process and will not recover or be rehabilitated in our lifetimes.

Indian people aren't the only victims of this but they seem to have been the most frequent victims being powerless for the most part to get their grievances redressed or in many cases even acknowledged.

The main parting on philosophy as I see it;
I don't think humans or any other creatures spontaneously tend to organize themselves into super tribal organizations. I think that's imposed by people from outside the tribes who manage to get enough coercive power to force unification, at least for a time. I don't think there's anything natural or inevitable about it. It's a consequence of human greed among other things and a misguided attempt to insure some sort of permanent security. That's after all what "settlement" seems to mean.

The irony is that rather than gaining security the people gain the hazard of having to deal with much larger organizations which are more difficult to control from either outside or inside and less responsive to the needs of individuals and smaller groups. Far from becoming more secure, people simply more frantic for less cause.
I like it, because to me it seems logical, and suggests that as time goes by people will form more inclusive societies, eventually reaching the point where all people are in one society, with some degree of respect for each other, equality, but just as importantly individuality, and so on. I happen to believe this is a positive thought.

In closing from abbi---
I thought exactly like Math before coming here. I liked the positive feeling that came from an inclusive view and it felt right and inevitable.

I now think the larger all inclusive picture is a Global Corporate snow job. In no instance has bigger made things better.

I do not believe any longer it can be a realistic healthy goal.
I think smaller groups with families that stick together in a healthier and smaller community lends more respect and power to individuals and families. If the individuals are more whole and valued they can better work with other groups for peaceful solutions to all else.

The balance of power is very important.
To further encourage big business,a few deciding for all, a few having the wealth, perpetuates a lot of what is wrong now.

Native Americans, and *Whites*

Post 45


What an interesting discussion!

I'd just like to say that I am:-
British by Nationality
English by Birthplace
Anglo-Saxon by Race
Caucasian by *ColoUr*
European by Government (ish!)

but above all, a WORLD citizen. I did not perpetrate any war crimes, either 150 years ago (vs non-ethnic Americans), 200 years ago (vs African Americans, and *African Britons* - don't forget them in the rolls of honoUr for persecution and slavery), or at any other time.
I am NOT *White*, merely a pinky brown coloUr (depending on which part you look at, some bits of me are blue...) if you have to apply a coloUr label to me then I guess that would be Caucasian, even though my ancestry does not visit the Causcas region in recorded history.

So you see that the labels I can apply to myself are a mixture of ones inflicted upon me, and ones that are true by geography, as well as those voluntarily chosen.

Perhaps in the future, we will all describe ourselves as *People*, without need for demographics, but whilst we live in a divisionist market-led world, we will always have to distinguish between *Us* and *Them*. Sad, on the whole.

Native Americans, and *Whites*

Post 46

abbi normal "Putting on the Ritz" with Dr Frankenstein

I think you should use no fewer than 10 labelssmiley - biggrin

One sure doesn't say much and three are not enough!
We are complicated beings and it can take a while to be a well rounded being. Maybe adding at least one new label a decade would be good for us all!

Earthlings united!

Post 47


What we really need to unite the world is an alien invasion, like Alan Moore shows in The Watchmen. People from my hometown Chelsea (Michigan) always felt a rivalry with the nearby town of Dexter. But all it takes to unite a Chelsea kid and a Dexter kid would be one kid from Ohio to yell, "Michigan sucks!" and suddenly they forget Chelsea vs Dexter while they fight over Michigan vs. Ohio. While those three kids are fighting, you break them up and have Donald Rumsfeld convince them that Syria is an imminent threat to our United States, and those three kids who just gave each other black eyes will link arms to fight Syrians.

If only we could scapegoat some nasty Martians or Plutonians, what a wonderful world this could be. smiley - aliensmilesmiley - smileysmiley - martiansmile

[...Then white Americans would argue against reparations for Blacks and against paying debts to indigenous people by claiming that we need all that money to go for fighting the Martians! Oh well.]

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