Indigenous Continent: The Epic Contest for North America

I’m fascinated with ancient history. I love to read articles that uncover something from thousands of years ago which, with recent technology has been happening more often. From my educational experience I feel as though I only learned history back to the Roman Empire and what I learned was always through a western lens. Technology and travel have opened my eyes to a incredible and mysterious past. From the first beings that could be called “human” hundreds of thousands of years ago to ancient artifacts from 10,000 years ago, it makes the 2,000 years of history usually covered in class just a drop in the bucket regarding the human story.

And so it is with the Native Americans. I’m fascinated. I find myself asking ChatBotGPT if all the natives come from the same group of ancestors. They do! I find it amazing to think of waves of a tribe crossing over the Bering Land Bridge. Asking AI again, it tells me it would have taken hundreds or even thousands of generations to separate into all of those different tribes and populate both North and South America.

Think about that. That is hundreds or even thousands of generations of history, events, civilizations, the vast majority of which we know nothing about. Yet they were here. This is the reason arrow heads are everywhere. Between the late 1800s and 16,500 years ago those arrow heads were used to kill animals for food. It puts me in a deeply reflective state to think about. So much history, lost.

Yet as far as our educational system tells us, the Natives might have well appeared when Western contact was made. I don’t assign too much blame as the natives did not keep written records and only recently has science shed more light on the ancient past.

Reading this book I was disappointed in the lack of information regarding pre-contact. But what was there was wondrous and is my very first three highlights from the book.


Yet the Western Hemisphere was still only patchily inhabited by people. Other migration waves proceeded through an older and quite possibly busier maritime route that traced the Pacific Rim, where people moved in skin boats along the shore, subsisting on the rich marine and estuarine life that flourished in a cool-water offshore zone – a “kelp highway” – that spanned from northeastern Asia to the Andean coast.

Shifting from one bounteous habitat to another, splintering when necessary, highly mobile maritime hunter-gatherers may have reached Monte Verde in modern-day southern Chile – ten thousand miles south of the Bering Strait – as early as 16,500 BCE.

By 8000 BCE, some three dozen species of giant animals had become extinct.

“Giant animals.” When I read this quote I was reminded of another quote from the Time Life Book – The Trailblazers.”

Farther on they would see herds of well over 10,000 buffalo, at times “attended by their shepherds the wolves” or feeding in company with other game “in one common and boundless pasture….the buffaloe Elk and Antelope are so gentle that we pass near them while feeding, without appearing to excite any alarm among them; and when we attract their attention, they frequently approach us more nearly to discovery what we are.”
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The Time Life quote is of Lewis and Clark describing something that to me would seem like the Garden of Eden. Now, imagine that same garden over 16,000 years ago when it was new to the Natives! Where these great beasts also docile? Untouched, unspoiled nature. I wish I could become a spirit with the ability to transcend time. I would watch the world be created and change through the millennia. In another post, I wished I could be a migrating Varied Thrush who visits the Taiga forest where humans do not roam.

Kinship – an all-pervasive sense of relatedness and mutual obligations – became the central organizing principle for human life.

North American Indians had experimented with ranked societies and all-powerful spiritual leaders and had found them deficient and dangerous. They had opted for more horizontal, participatory, and egalitarian ways of being in the world – a communal ethos available to everyone who was capable of proper thoughts and deeds willing to share their possessions. Their ideal society was boundless commonwealth that could be – at least in theory – extended to outsiders, infinitely.

A society where members look out for each other. It sounds so nice. In our society we put too much emphasis on the individual which has caused chaos and discord. Everyone for themselves, with only a very weak communal bond which can be found in small communities. Nationally the communal bond has been under assault for some time.

The contrast to the stunning Spanish successes in Middle and South America was striking: how could relatively small Native groups defy Spanish colonialism in the north when the formidable Aztec, Inca, and Maya Empires had fallen so easily? The answer was right in front of the Spanish – the decentralized, kinship-based, and egalitarian political regimes made poor targets for imperial entradas – but they kept missing it because the Indigenous nations were so different from Europe’s hierarchical societies. They also missed a fundamental fact about Indigenous warfare: fighting on their homelands, the Indians did not need to win battles and wars; they just needed not to lose them.

The problem was that, as individuals, most Jesuits put little value on their earthly existence. Steeped in mystical Catholicism, they strove for “indifference,” the annihilation of the self, which they saw as an entity detached from God.

That tradition of “the annihilation of self” seems to have disappeared in the current form of the Catholic church. It has become something grotesque with little spiritual value.

Apart from the Jesuits, most Frenchmen sought sexual relations and mariages with Native women, who had their own reasons to favorably respond to being courted by the French: marriages with trader opened access to crucial goods and could dramatically enhance the standing of the women’s families. Native women who married fur traders often became mediators between the French and Indians and built extensive kinship networks through the Catholic institution of godparenting, expanding and solidifying the middle ground. Some women who married traders assumed important roles in their communities as religious educators. Marie Rouensa – Acateca, who was from a prominent Illini family, married a French fur trader, converted to Catholicism and moved into the grand village of Kaskaskia, where she translated a Jesuit tract into the Kaskaskia language, becoming a leader in her community.

It is interesting to learn about the reasons Native women wanted to marry foreigners. This reasoning persists today between third world women and the seemingly wealthy foreigners who court them. Fascination with the exotic is one reason but financial reasons are also substantial.

As a minority group surrounded by Indians, the colonists were obsessed with control at every level of their society. Connecticut adopted a law that imposed a death penalty on boys over sixteen years of age who refused to obey their parents and, on any child, over sixteen, regardless of gender, who cursed or hit a parent.

Seems rather harsh doesn’t it? At 46 years old I still do not feel “grown up,” when I think of adult male models of the past. They always seem so formal, so rigid. I grew up with Pee-Wee Herman!

Making matters worse, there was danger of Catholic insurgency: Lord Baltimore, the Catholic proprietor of Maryland, was rumored to have assembled an alliance with Indians and “papists” to destroy Protestantism in North America.

Heirs to the fabled Cofitachequi Confederacy, the well-connected Catawbas called Europeans “nothings,” pitiful people who lacked kin ties and did not belong. They made their opinion clear to the colonists through carefully planned pomp. One European traveler reported that “our Landlord was King of the Kadapau Indians, and always kept two or three trading Girls in his Cabin. Offering one of these to some of our Company, who refused his Kindness, his Majesty flew into a violent Passion, to be thus slighted, telling the Englishmen that they were good for nothing.” The Europeans missed the crucial element of the practice: the creation of all-important kinship ties through intimacy.

Bourgmont took a delegation of Osage, Otoe, Misouria, and Illini leaders to France, where they saw Versailles, the Paris opera house, the Hôtel des Invalides, and the fifteen-year-old king Louis XV. The Indigenous visitors were not impressed. one of them was taken aback by men “who were half women, with curled hair, earrings, and corsages on their chests”. He said they “smelled like alligators.”

Haha. Seems we’re going through another crisis today of “what makes a man.”

The modern horse, Equus ferus caballus, had returned to its birthplace after nearly a million years of absence, and its arrival triggered a revolution. Wherever horses became available, they spawned profound economic, military, and political changes.

“A million years of absence.” Is this referring to the separating continents. To Pangea?

Horses also overturned the power dynamics between the nomadic Indigenous nations and European colonists in the West. At its most basic level, this shift was a matter of harnessing energy. Dogs, Native Americans’ only domesticates before horses, were omnivorous and could use the West’s greatest resource – grass – only indirectly. They relied on their masters to provide them with the flesh of herbivorous animals, whereas horses, with their large and finely tuned intestines, could process vast quantities of cellulose-rich grass. The horse was a bigger and stronger dog, but more profoundly, it was an energy converter. By transforming inaccessible plant energy into tangible and immediately available muscle power, horses opened up an astonishing shortcut to the sun, the source of all energy on Earth. For the Comanches the sun was “the primary cause of all living things,” and horses brought them closer to it, redefining what was possible: the biomass of the continental grasslands may have been a thousand times greater than that of the region’s animals. The Comanches plugged themselves into a seemingly inexhaustible energy stream of grass, flesh, and sunlight.

Interesting to refer to horses as energy converters. What a unique way to think about it. The Comanches today still strike fear into the old Texan’s heart.

Making matters worse, the Spanish learned that the French were building a colony at La Jicarilla in the Platte Valley among the Pawnees. The French sent a message to the Spanish calling them women, in an attempt to provoke them to come out and fight.

Can still anger a Spaniard today, or really any Mediterranean male, by calling into question their manhood. Some things change and some things stay the same.

For Native Americans, by contrast, the deep interior was a homeland, a hunting domain, and a stronghold against colonial expansion, and they meant to keep it so. Many of them had been displaced twice already, and they intended to stay put. They scrutinized European newcomers not only for signs of diseases but also for attitudes, proper clothing, acceptable hairstyles, and odd proclivities, all of which could broadcast humility, arrogance, or compliance. Irishmen rarely made the cut.

The more I read about the Irish in early America the more I realize they had a terrible reputation. Case in point the Paddy Wagon was so named since it was alwasy filled with “Patties,” Pat, being a very common Irish name. I’d like to learn more as to why the Irish were so unruly.

When the French emerged from their shelters, there was a brief exchange of musket fire. Tanaghrisson’s soldiers blocked the critical path, forcing the French back into a clearing where they were exposed. The French offered to surrender but Washington, rashly, ordered his soldiers to fire. Fourteen Frenchmen were dead before Washington ordered his men to stop shooting.

George Washington committed a war crime? Strike it from the books and call it “fake news!” The January 6th insurrection was just a tour group that got out of hand too.

The Indians expected the settlers to share their technology and embrace the Indians as allies and kin, whereas the British sought to dictate to the Indians.

Sounds like the British to me! I met a British girl at a bar once and she seems salty about the Revolution saying “you won the war. ” All European countries liked to colonize and subjugate people. Just don’t mention that fact to any current Republicans or they will want to ban more books.

The talks had been underway for several days already, and the participants were getting edgy. In the fall of 1778, with the Revolutionary War still undecided, U.S. commissioners had invited Lenape delegates to treaty talks at Fort Pitt in the heart of the Ohio Country. Both sides had delivered elaborate speeches, hoping to forge mutual understandings, and had patiently removed obstacles to peace. Yet problems remained. The commissioners felt compelled to explain Article 6 of the proposed treaty, which states, “The Enemies of the United States have endeavored by every artifice in their power to possess the Indians in General with an opinion, that is the design. of the United States… to extirpate the Indians and take possession of their country.” Through its new and aggressive national government, the United States had become a self-conscious settler colony that was impatient with Indigenous peoples on its claimed borders. U.S. agents were troubled by the implications of the accusation. their new nation, just two years old, had already been denounced as a genocidal behemoth, lending credence to long lasting Native fears. The United States could not afford to carry such a reputation, because its position in the Indigenous continent was far from secure.

The US was a genocidal behemoth and the reputation justified whether they wanted to carry it or not. History has shown that it was indeed true.

In the fall of 1782, David Williamson, a wealthy Pennsylvanian militia leader known for his zeal to kill Indians, led a vigilante group to Gnadenhütten – “tents of grace” – a peaceful Lenape town where the Indians had allowed Moravian missionaries. to live among them. The Americans entered carrying an English flag, and the missionaries offered them food. The vigilantes found metalware in the town and decided that the Indians must have raided American settlements. The militiamen lifted their hammers and smashed in the skulls of ninety-six children, women, and men, who kept singing a Christian hymn to the end. Many were scalped. Afterward, there was no American attempt to apologize or compensate for the massacre, which then became. a declaration of war. This incident, together with other recent atrocities, especially the Paxton Boys’ frenzied killing spree, brought. the young United States’ reputation to an all-time low.

The more I read the more I realize human beings carry within them a primal nature, everyone has the capacity to kill given the right circumstances and experiences. Society suppresses it but the savagery is inherently there.

Alarmed, Colonel William Crawford, an old friend of George Washington, decided to attack the Indians along the Sandusky River without authorization. The Indians prevailed, captured forty Americans, and took them to Sandusky. According to one account, the Indians stripped Crawford of his clothes and told him that he would be burned. Native women put hot coals on his skin while Crawford’s please for a merciful bullet went ignored. Where the United States should have been cultivating alliances with Indigenous nations, most of which they had not defeated, rogue colonists and soldiers alienated nation after nation.

“Ohio” comes from ohi:yó, an Iroquois word for “beautiful” and “good.” The region would remain so for the time being.

Being a native of Ohio I can attest that Ohio is now full of Walmarts, fast food chains, and private farmland. I still love Columbus and select other parts of the state but when I think of “beautiful” Ohio is not the first place that comes to mind.

A particularly charged issue was how to respond to murders. U.S. officials demanded public trials and executions, whereas. the Iroquois preferred covering grave of the victims with gifts that eased pain and restored order. Eventually, Pickering concluded that the frontier colonists were “far more savage & revengeful than the Indians themselves,” prompting President Washington to note that “it is in the highest degree mortifying to find that the bulk of the frontier inhabitants consider the killing of Indians in time of peace, to be no crime and that their murders are faultless, provided they escape detection.”

From George Washington’s own words we must ask ourselves who were the greater savages?

Washington ordered the U.S Army to destroy the resisting Indians and capture as many women and children as possible. Unable to defeat the allied Indians in battle, the president of the United States relied on terror and total war, targeting noncombatants, fields, orchards, and trade centers.

When I read about the battles everyone is always killing women and children. Again, humans are perhaps the worst kind of savage animal. These days it can be done in the millions with just one nuclear bomb. Savagery unparalleled in the animal kingdom, the humans have no equal.

Realizing that he could not win a prolonged conflict, Wayne marched his army, “The Legion of the United States,” comprising more than three thousand troops, directly into the heart of the Indigenous Ohio Country. It would be a dirty war. The march set the tone. there would be no quarter, just bloodshed. U.S. troops burned cornfields, destroyed towns, and killed women and children. The tactic was both a strategy and a reassertion of U.S. hegemony.

More killing of women and children. They don’t put this stuff in the educational history books. If Republicans have their way one could. be branded a traitor for pointing out truth. This from the same group that actually committed treason on January 6th.

The United States was also a risky and – to many Americans and Europeans – an unlikely political experiment. It was a democracy and thus volatile and prone to sudden swings in its priorities and policies.

No kidding. The experiment doesn’t seem to be going very well here in the year 2023.

Cherokees, along with the Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Muscogees, relied on Black slave labor, often outperforming their White neighbors in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, even though their slave regimes were far less brutal. Choctaw women were able to bring more than ten thousand yards of cloth each year to the market. Such achievements spelled trouble : few things infuriated American settlers more than seeing Indians outdo them. Indian-hating became virulent across the South.

The South remains racist to this day. And as for Republicans, how does the chant go? “You will not replace us!” Many whites still hate to see minorities do better than them. It is sad to think that nothing has changed in this regard. I wish I could read the highlight and just think “this is history, we’re more enlightened now.” That is not the case. Perhaps 300 years from now we will be a better species and they can look back at our history and say “well, this is history, we’re more enlightened now.”

In the absence of proper government oversight, White settlers and officials raped and murdered countless Native women. More than three thousand Muscogees died during their removal, triggering a yearlong on-again, off-again war that ravaged large parts of Alabama and Georgia. The Cherokees witnessed their lands being transferred to settlers through lotteries.

Also something they won’t teach you in history class. The story I learned in elementary school was that Europeans came over, they had a very nice meal with the ‘Indians’ that we now call Thanksgiving and then all the ‘Indians’ left to go live on reservations in areas we will never see. No murders, no rapes, no killing of women and children, no war crimes by George Washington. A nice meal then the Europeans moved in and the ‘Indians’ moved away.

As the Lakotas were transforming themselves into an empire, Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton announced, in 1846, that the only empire on the continent belong to the Americans: “The white race alone received the divine command, to subdue and replenish the earth! For it is the only race that has obeyed it [and] the only one that hunts out new and distant lands, and even a new World, to subdue and replenish. .. The red race has disappeared from the Atlantic coast. The tribes that resisted civilization meet extinction. This is a cause of lamentation with many. For my part, I cannot murmur at what seems to be the effect of divine law.” Many Americans shared Benton’s views of Indigenous peoples as a doomed race, the but Lakotas would soon set them straight, making it clear that there was nothing preordained about the United States’ cynical expansionism.

Sounds like genocide to me. Easy to absolve any guilt by simply saying “God wills it so. ” Worked then, and seems to work in 2023.

Around 1750 Vélez Cahupín turned Taos into a Comanche market where, in the highly critical words of a Spanish visitor, “all prudence forsakes them . . . Here, in short, is gathered everything possible for trade and barter with these barbarians in exchange for buffalo hides, and what is saddest in exchange for Indian slaves, men and women, small and large, a great multitude of both sexes, for they are the gold and silver of the richest treasure of the governors, who gorge themselves first and with the greatest mouthfuls from this table, while the rest eat the crumbs. ”

The success of the Comanches as a horse nation was founded on a deviation from the typical patterns of ecological imperialism, which had debilitated countless Indigenous nations through aggressive weeds and crowd diseases. Most native plants in the Americas had not evolved to coexist with large grazing animals, and when Eurasian fauna arrived in the sixteenth century, many of these plant species were rapidly devoured and replaced by more resilient European weeds. In the North American Great Plains, however, grasses had coevolved along with large grazers – most notably the bison – and were therefore exceptionally resilient in the face of Europe’s faunal invasion. When the Comanches grasped the full extent of that advantage, they dramatically streamlined their economy and way of life. They stopped using some one hundred plants, abandoning two-thirds of their ethnobotanical tradition, and when they forged trade relations with Pueblo, Pawnee, Ponca, Kansa, Wichita, and Iowa farmers to secure carbohydrates in the form of maize, squash, and beans. Comanchería became a great trade pump that channeled protein and fat out and carbohydrates in. A steady inflow of corn, beans, squash, seeds, and even baked bread from neighboring farming societies enabled the Comanches to assemble an almost ideal diet: moderate to high in protein, iron, and vitamin B12; high in complex carbohydrates; and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

The Comanches’ capacity for war alarmed the Texans, alienating them from the seemingly weak Mexican Republic . In early March 1836, at Washington-on-the-Brazos, delegates from more than forty Texas communities severed their ties with Mexico. Sam Houston, as the first president of the Lone Star Republic, tried to stabilize relations with the Comanches through trade, but he lost the 1838 election to Mirabeau B. Lamar, a true Indian hater. Indians were branded “red niggers,” and Lamar waged a vicious war against the Comanches.

In the recently acquired California, Whites focused on banishing the Indians, and then on killing them. U.S. agents deported as many Native Americas as they could to small concentration ca. ps. The land, supremely fertile and laced with gold, was too good for Indians.

A frustrated Colonel John Chivington attacked a peaceful Cheyenne village at Sand Creek with seven hundred Colorado Volunteers. They murdered more than 150 people, mostly women, children, and elderly. One American killed a pregnant woman, cut her open, and scalped the fetus. Others decorated themselves with body par. s. When later asked about the brutality, Chivington deadpanned, “Nits make lice.” Soon after, U.S. troops attacked the Shoshones in Utah without an official order and killed more than two hundred people. It was not the first massacre that the shoshones had suffered at American hands.

Again with the brutality, the savagery. Nobody likes to read this stuff coming from their own country. And so they don’t and these days call it fake news. Humans are a savage species.

The Indians maneuvered effectively, closing in, and axing and clubbing the Americans down. They “did not take a single soldier prisoner, but killed all of them; none were left alive for even five minutes.” The Indians thrust an arrow into Custer’s penis, sending him into the afterlife diminished.

Sitting Bull escaped north and crossed the “Medicine Line,” a one-hundred =-mile stretch of. theU.S.- Canada border that seemed to stop U.S. soldiers like magic. A vengeful Congress seized Pahá Sápa, willfully violating the Treaty of Fort Laramie, and the army launched attacks to force the horse nations into reservations, eliminating their most important asset, mobility.

I’m interested in what Natives call “medicine.” It is something mystical which I’d like to learn more about.

The Nez Perces staged a dramatic arrival at the talks that echoed the Lakotas’ arrival at the Fort Laramie parley in the spring of 1851. After contentious negotiations and expedient misunderstandings, the Walla Wallas, Umatillas, Cayuses, Yakamas, and Nez Perces agreed to treaties and reservations. But in 1860, gold was discovered on the Nez Perce reservation, provoking a long struggle among Indians, local officials, and the U.S. Army. The United States imposed unfavorable treaties on the Nez Perces, while land-hungry settlers nibbled at the margins of the reservation. By the mid-1870s, hemmed in by the Washington and Idaho territories and the state of Oregon, the Nez Perces faced U.s. officials who demanded obedience and threatened to remove the Indians from their lands.

Never make treaties with the USA, the reputation in following through is not very good.

The Mormons looked for other ways to extract wealth from local Indians. Considering bondage natural, and branding both Africans and Indians as “dark and loathsome,” they began to buy large numbers of Indian children.

Another religion with a dark side. It is hard to take any religion seriously when on one hand they preach peace and love while on the other hand engage in practices like this. It is hypocrisy at the grandest scale.

Ancient multiethnic kinship networks could no longer sustain common worlds in the face of the influx of White settlers and racism. In late January 1870, prompted by a single revenge killing, two hundred mounted U.S. troops descended on the Piikani band of the Blackfoot Confederacy on the Marias. River. Within an hour, approximately two hundred Blackfoot women, children and men were dead.

I’ve lost count of the references to killing women and children in the history of the USA.

The Americans still feared the Lakotas, and the Lakota agents panicked, mistaking the forward-looking Ghost Dance movement for an anti-White conspiracy. The army mobilized against the dancers and trapped a group of them at Wounded Knee Creek. The Seventh Cavalry, Custer’s former regiment, occupied the higher ground and began shooting at the exposed people below. At least 270 died, and at least 170 of the dead were women and children. It was revenge for the humiliation fourteen years earlier. Twenty soldiers involved in the massacre were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

In the 1890s the number of remaining Indias was 250,000 – a terrifyingly low figure that reveals the enormity of U.S genocidal campaigns. American expansion had diminished North America’s Indigenous population by seventy percent.

This book portrays history as it was. History is full of atrocity and it is idiocy to think that the history of America wouldn’t have its dark episodes as well. What is extremely disheartening to me is that in 2023 we should be educated, enlightened and better. But here we are refusing to face the truth, banning books and Republicans trying to erase it from public educational institutions all because they don’t want white people to “feel bad.” And it is not only Republicans. Mention any of this to most ‘regular’ people and it is not something they would want to hear. Nobody wants to hear about the bad things their own country has done. To use a word Republican’s are fond of – a Patriot – it is my opinion that a true patriot would want to amke their country better by acknowledging the truth not lying about it or avoiding it all together.

The way to heal a huge gash is not to just place a bandage over it and pretend it does not exist. You must inspect it, determine the amount of damage, clean it, disinfect it, and maybe even apply stitches. That is the way to heal a non-life threatening wound and seems like common sense. Now look at something much worse such as genocide, slavery, oppression of millions over generations. Republican leaders believe the solution is to ignore it. The wound will not heal, it will continue to remain just as threatening as when it began over 300 years ago. But we place another bandage and hope we can get through another year without it killing us. From the vitriol of certain politicians I do not have hope that we will survive another few decades as one nation. The infection has become almost untreatable.

Categorized as Books

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/