Tuesday, February 14, 2012


"And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Native Tribes
I've started reading a book called Fools Crow about some Indians living in Montana as the west was being settled by whites. For most of my life I've lived with the presumption that Indians were pretty well abused and horribly mistreated by whites, which is largely true. But there's an aspect of this that I hadn't thought about before but struck me strongly while reading this book.

I remember as a child in grade school when they shuffled us all off into the cafeteria/gymnasium building to watch a movie. The film was about a young man who was raised in regular American culture but whose parents sent him off to spend time with his grandfather in the woods of Oregon. There he was taught about his culture and past, learning chants and various traditional things of his tribe from the past. The film's message was obvious: this must never be lost, it would be a crime to stop having this in his life, being "white" was a betrayal of his tribe's heritage.

And if you ask any average person, particularly more left-leaning folks, they'll agree and argue that the rape of culture that the Indian suffered under whites was unforgivable. Further, you'll tend to read and hear that cultures that live in isolated parts of the world should be left totally unchanged and untouched. That it would be a deep tragedy for these people to lose their heritage and culture, that the world is diminished by a culture dying out. Films, television shows, documentaries, books, and so on all tell us about one dying culture or another or how one might be lost and we all should grieve if not donate to stop it.

And here's what occurred to me: the Indians who fought against losing their culture (and still do) are idiots. Before you throw rocks at me, think about it this way, if you would.

Say you're a Hopi and you live in a hide tent, using stone implements and eating dogs you raise for the purpose. Say you have some herbal medicine but nothing much, that you travel by foot, that you fight with spears and arrows, and that you get into regular wars with other local tribes to prove your manhood, attract women, and gain possessions.

Along comes a Spaniard with metal armor, metal weapons, bandages, guns, books, and more. He clearly is superior to you technologically, his culture is more advanced. He has a telescope to see you from a distance, he can start a fire without five minutes of backbreaking work. He's wearing comfortable cloth clothing. And he's riding a horse, which lets him travel twice the distance you do for half the effort, and can be eaten if needed. It even can fight for him.

What kind of half-brained idiot rejects these benefits? It would be like having aliens visit the US and offer us teleportation, cures to all our diseases, space travel, universal translators, and cheap, limitless energy and us yelling at them that they're destroying our culture. It would be insane.

Yet most Indians fought to the death not to change, and the whites acted like it was "cultural genocide" to teach Indians to live a better life. Hey, you don't have to sit in the dirt and worry some maniac from the next town over is going to scalp you and drag off your daughter.

This idea extends even further. The same sociologists, leftists, and well-meaning people who insist we're evil to destroy a culture stamp their foot and insist that everyone in Rural America must give up their patriotism, small town ideals, and culture to "evolve" and "mature" to accept leftist ideas. You're a bigot, a homophobe, a sexist, a knuckle-dragging, sister-marrying cretin unless you agree with them. Your culture must die.

So its evil to help the Unga-Nunga tribe stop eating each other and living in mud, but its evil to not accept gay marriage, to keep hanging a flag out front, and to cling to your gun rights. Your culture is wrong and must stop; their culture is sacred and must never be changed. Your rural American values and society is a blight on civilization but the stone age tribal must be protected by the Prime Directive.

I can guess why this inconsistency exists; far too many people have idiotically bought into the myth of the noble savage, thinking that civilization and its discontents have corrupted us from the peaceful, wonderful Eden-like existence of isolated primitive man. This is patently false with even the slightest examination or logic, but it is very appealing. The Indian living in perfect harmony with his surroundings and using all parts of the buffalo is a nice story, but that's all it is. Their life was nasty, brutish, and short, and they abused their environment as much as we do, there just was fewer of them.

And since modern American rural culture is an impediment to leftist ideology and their utopian schemes, its natural they'd want that impediment obliterated. Consistency has never been a strong point for the left, particularly lately with their relativist tendencies. They can hold two totally contradictory concepts like this, isolating them and holding to each for its own reasons.

It just strikes me as odd that this happens, and while I have no problem with people remembering and celebrating their heritage, be it Dutch, Swahili, or Navaho, I just can't work out rejecting civilization and advancement as some being sort of virtue.


Eric said...

It's a complicated subject. In some cases, things we think of as Indian culture were only made possible by their adoption of Western technology. For instance, one of the most enduring images of Native Americans is the relationship the Plains tribes had with the buffalo... and guess what? That relationship (at least as we tend to think of it) was only made possible by the acquisition of Spanish ponies. And far from being a relatinship that went back thousands of years, the buffalo/tipi tribes lasted a few hundred years at most, and there is good evidence that prior to white encroachment on their lands they were consuming the buffalo population at an unsustainable rate (the buffalo population was experiencing a boom because many tens of thousands of plains indians died of white disease, but prior to that there are stories of the herds being severly thinned out).

The story is further complicated because many of the tribes in Southern states did willingly and enthusiastically adopt white Christian culture, and were then sent packing by the US government and expected to live like their ancestors had lived, even though they had long since given up that way of life.

It's just not really possible to have a general conversation about the Native American tribes and their relationship with Europeans and the US Government. There were too many different tribes with different cultures and different circumstances. The 19th century Comanche tribe was as different culturally from the 19th century Chickasaw tribe as today's Muslims are from today's Jews... but people rarely stop to consider that when talking about this stuff.

Anonymous said...

your theory is based on the erroneous eurocentric egotistical viewpoint that your items, and therefore culture is superior. IT IS NOT. You are the idiot, neaderthal albino.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, living in a skin hut in the dirt with no medicine, literature, and stone age technology is superior. How could anyone miss that?