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https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/26/when-america-was-great-savage-white-un-settlers-raped-a-continent-and-assaulted-a-planet/

October 26, 2018
When America Was Great, Savage White Un-Settlers Raped a Continent and Assaulted a Planet
by Paul Street


    Your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings…are…a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

    – Frederick Douglass, July 4th, 1852

“Together,” Donald “Make America Great Again” Trump told U.S. Naval Academy graduates last May, “there is nothing Americans can’t do, absolutely nothing. In recent years, and even decades,” Trump added, “too many people have forgotten that truth. They’ve forgotten that our ancestors trounced an empire, tamed a continent, and triumphed over the worst evils in history.”

I was reminded of Trump’s statement recently as I reflected on the remarkable record of climate-change driven extreme weather events that have hit the United States in recent years.  Epic wild-fires, droughts, rains, floods, tornadoes, snowfalls, and hurricanes are humbling U.S.-America. They are only a foretaste of the stern continental taming U.S.-Americans can expect at the hands of Mother Nature in coming years.  (More on that below.)

Where was one to begin in processing the untruth and affront embedded in Trump’s reflection on how “America” was once “great”?

“Our ancestors”? I have a paternal grandfather who may have been descended from original 18th or even 17th century Scotch-Irish immigrants to North America, but my largest ethnic strain is Finnish, thanks to the Luhtala family’s “chain migration” to DeKalb, Illinois in the early 20th century, long after the closing of the western U.S. frontier. (The Luhtalas worked in barbed-wire plants to help the continent’s capitalist “tamers”/takers mark their territorial conquests off as private property.) Like hundreds of millions of other U.S-Americans, I have ancestors who came long after the nation’s original white and mostly English, Irish, and German “settlers.” (Currently, 14% of the U.S. population is foreign-born, the largest percentage since 1910, right after my Finnish great-grandparents arrived, when 15% of US-Americans were born in other countries.)

These “ancestors…trounced an empire”? Not really.  The U.S. merely broke off from the Western edge of the British Empire, which would go on to rule the world like no global hegemon until the post-World War II Pax Americana (more on that lovely formation below). The British Empire had a pretty damn good run from the end of the Napoleonic Wars through the rest of the 19thcentury.

For what it’s worth, the propertied masters atop the so-called American Revolution understood their new slave-owning republic as an empire – an “empire of liberty,” they called it, with no sense of irony given their dedication to the ruthless ethnic cleansing (to use a 20th century phrase) of the nation’s original inhabits and the expansion of Black chattel slavery.

“Tamed a continent”? Leaving aside the fact that Canada and Mexico also hold much of the North America, Trump’s phrase was an insolent slight of the continent’s original inhabitants. Here the president channeled the original “settlers” concept of the 10-18 million human beings who lived in North America prior to white-European invasion as pre-historic “savages” who required the stern hand of the “civilized” white man to impose order.

It was Orwellian twaddle and truth inversion. The continent’s First Nations people were highly civilized, unscathed by class rule, and harmoniously connected to the natural environment in ways that hold critical significance for human and other living things in our current age of capitalist ecocide, As the Native American author and activist Ward Churchill wrote more than two decades ago:

    “On…the day Christopher Columbus first washed up on a Caribbean beach, North America was long since endowed with an abundant and exceedingly complex cluster of civilizations.  Having continuously occupied the continent for at least 50,000 years, the native inhabitants evidenced a total population of perhaps 15 million, cities as large as the 40,000-resident urban center at Cahokia (in present-day Illinois), highly advanced conceptions of architecture and engineering, spiritual traditions embodying equivalents to modern eco-science, refined knowledge of pharmacology and holistic medicine, and highly sophisticated systems of governance, trade, and diplomacy.  The traditional economies of the continent were …based in environmentally sound farming procedures which originated well over half the vegetal foodstuffs now consumed by peoples the world over.  By and large, the indigenous societies demonstrating such attainments were organized along extremely egalitarian lines, with real property held collectively and matrifocality a normative standard.”

Pre-Conquest North America contained “large-scale societies which had perfected ways of organizing themselves into psychologically fulfilling wholes, experiencing very high standards of living, and still maintaining environmental harmony…War, in the Euro-derived sense in which the term is understood today” – as highly organized mass annihilation – “was,” Churchill noted, “unknown” among and between the First Nations.

Also unknown in the continent’s original civilizations was economic inequality and poverty on anything remotely like the scale of early modern Europe.  The Old World was home to a capitalist order whose relentless enclosure of the European commons and destruction of independent farmer and artisan livelihoods generated a surplus population desperate to spill onto North America. Now the U.S. itself hosts savage inequalities – the top tenth of the nation’s One Percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent and its riches three persons have as much net worth between as the bottom half – that make Western Europe (incubator of modern class rule) look egalitarian.

Tamed a continent? It was more like raped a continent.The “Indians” (absurdly so misnamed because the “settlers” mistakenly thought they had discovered “the Indes”) were seen by “Predator” – Churchill’s understandable (from an indigenist perspective) term for the European invaders – as animalized brutes fit for elimination and removal even as the newcomers incorporated numerous aspects of Native American culture (moccasins, canoes, and more).  A lethal combination of germs, superior numbers, technology, and killing capacities – including the moral capacity to wipe out whole villages with no more spiritual discomfort than that involved in shooting deer and coyotes – inflicted astonishing population decline on Native North America. One after another, original North American nations and tribes were liquidated and dispersed.  “By 1890,” Churchill noted, “fewer than 250,000 Indians remained alive within the United States, a degree of decimation extending into the upper ninetieth percentile.”

Predator’s massacre chain ran from Connecticut Captain John Mason’s burning and shooting of hundreds of Pequot villagers near Mystic River in May of 1637 through terrible events like the so-called Battle (massacre) of Bad Axe (1832) and the Sand Creek Massacre (1864) to the Wounded Knee bloodbath (the so-called Battle of Wounded Knee) in December of 1891, when the U.S. Calvary killed 150-300 Lakota men, women, and children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  The United States’ beloved first president, George Washington, was known to the Iroquois as “Town Destroyer.”

In a popular first-person account of the “battle of Bad Axe” – the gruesome culmination of the brutal removal of the Sauk nation from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin in the “Black Hawk War” [1] – U.S. Army Major John Allen Wakefield offered some remarkable reflections. “It was a horrid sight,” Wakefield wrote, “to witness little [Native American] children, wounded and suffering the most excruciating pain, although they were of the savage enemy, and the common enemy of the country…It was enough to make the heart of the most hardened being on earth to ache” But, Wakefield wrote, “I must confess, that it filled my heart with gratitude and joy, to think that I had been instrumental, with many others, indelivering my country of those merciless savages, and restoring those [invading white] people again to their peaceful homes and firesides” – on land that had for centuries hosted homes and firesides for the Sauk.

Such sentiments were common among the genocidal white killers across the centuries of North American “settlement” and ethnic cleansing.  From the colonial era on, the savage “settlers”  reveled in the mass slaying of indigenous people (including women, children, and older men) they saw as inherently “evil” and (curiously enough) “savage.” “Our Great Father,” a government agent told the Sauks, “will forbear no longer. He has tried to reclaim [Native Americans] and they grow worse. He is resolved to sweep them from the face of the earth. … If they cannot be made good they must be killed.”

This kind of truth-inverting narrative, depicting the continent’s peaceful original inhabitants and not their coldblooded butchers as the “merciless savages,” was typical of how the invading white un-“settlers” justified their genocidal extermination of North America’s first civilizations.

During the late 18thcentury and early 19th century, the Native North American Holocaust was meant among other things to clear the way for another kind of Holocaust – the sadistic forced labor and torture regimeof Black chattel slavery, the key to the United States’ emergence as a major capitalist power by the mid-19thcentury. As the United States moved into the railroad and industrial era, its rising accumulation of capital fueled above by lucrative, highly profitable  southern cotton slavery, the great Black ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass – the truly great American who Trump seemed last year to see as a living contemporarypersonality (a rapper like his good friend Kanye West, perhaps) – asked “what, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” His answer:

“a day that reveals to him…the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings…mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour….Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

The two and a half century Holocaust of Black chattel slavery is the persistently unacknowledged and uncompensated historical taproot of a stark Black-white inequality and hyper-segregation that continues to haunt “American” life and feed the nation’s gigantic, historically unmatched system of mass incarceration. The southern Confederacy, whose noxious historical monuments Trump and other white nationalists defend in the name of “history,” treasonously seceded from the Union and forced the Civil War for one clear reason: the southern slave-owning ruling class’s determination that the election of Abraham Lincoln spelled the end of the racist chattel system.

It wasn’t just human beings that the white “settlers” “tamed” – raped,that is – when “America” was “Great.”  Between European “settlement” and the aftermath of the Civil War, Predator saw fit to fell 52% of the deciduous U.S. forest east of the Mississippi. A fifth of that remaining woodland bit the dust between 1850 and 1909, thanks to accelerating waves of deforestation led by agricultural clearing and logging in the Great Lakes region and the South (where Black cotton slavery was largely reconstituted in new forms in the last third of the nineteenth century).

Then there was the decline of original wildlife, not so much “tamed” as exterminated. “As the 19th century progressed,” the National Park Service reports:

    “wildlife habitat was dramatically reduced by deforestation and wetland filling, combined with over-hunting. New markets for wildlife made killing wildlife a financially profitable venture for hunters, who took advantage of improved transportation methods like railroads to gain access to previously inaccessible areas. The lack of legal protection for wildlife led to the slaughter of many species, some of which were hunted to extinction or near extinction.Wildlife like passenger pigeons and buffalo, which had been extremely abundant, were hunted to extinction(or nearly so). Migratory birds were especially impacted, since there was a huge market for the feathers of birds such as egrets, used to create women’s fashionable hats” (emphasis added).

The elimination of the continent’s once great bison herds was nauseating exterminism. Richard Dodge, an army officer, reported in 1877 that “Buffalo were slaughtered without sense or discretion…Where there were myriads of buffalo the year before, there were now myriads of carcasses.  The air was foul with sickening stench, and the vast plain, and the vast plain, which only a short twelvemonth before teemed with animal life, was a dead, solitary, putrid desert.”

Soon the meat barons of Chicago would devise ways to “tame” – to kill and process on a previously unimaginable scale that brought droves of tourists from around the world to marvel at the modern art and science of animal slaughter – many thousands of cows, pigs, and sheep per day in the giant meatpacking plants of Upton Sinclair’s famously sickening “Jungle.” The harrowing and alienating work carried out in these and other vast new mass production workplaces across the nation showed that antebellum and Civil War era labor activists were right to remind Americans that slavery took a waged form as well as a chattel form – and that antidemocratic class rule was not limited to the slavery of the U.S. South and the serfdom of Russia.

As mostly white U.S. workers rose against their ruthless exploitation under the rule of “wage slavery” in the rapidly expanding new industrial capitalism of the post-Civil War, the capitalist press not uncommonly justified the bloody repression of striking and marching proletarians and killing of their radical leaders by describing them as “white savages.”  As the labor historian James Green noted in his classic study Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and a Bombing That Divided America:

    “Many [U.S.] editorialists relied on animal metaphors to describe the anarchists, whom they branded ‘ungrateful hyenas,’ ‘incendiary vermin,’ and ‘slavic wolves.’…the alien incendiaries were often compared to other hated groups like the menacing Apache Indians.  The St. Louis Globe-Democrat applied an old frontier adage about ‘savage’ tribes to the new menace.  ‘There are no good anarchists except dead anarchists,’ it proclaimed.”

When railroad workers went out on strike in Chicago, U.S. infantry troops were summoned fresh from Dakotas campaigns against the Sioux to kills dozens of working-class men and boys – “white savages” – on the city’s Southwest side.

“Our ancestors,” Trump said, “triumphed over the worst evils in history”(Trump)? What, like racialized genocide and chattel slavery, the elimination of species, the rampant destruction of natural habitat, the rise of Robber Baron plutocracy, and concentrated wage-slavery on a scale that Karl Marx could barely have imagined? The “taming of the continent” by “our” great gun- and bullwhip-wielding “ancestors” were great triumphs for all of these and terrible historical scourges.

But, of course, the last clause of the final Trump sentence I quoted at the beginning of this essay refers to the 20thcentury.  By “worst evils in history,” Orange (Truth-) Crush(er) meant German fascism/Nazism and Soviet “communism.” And here there are at least five problems.

First, the United States’ interwar establishment was fairly pleased with European fascism until the Third Reich and its Japanese partner threatened to shut off the world system to America’s rising global economic power.  U.S. business class “elites” saw fascism as a welcome disciplining force to crush European trade unions and Leftists and as a bulwark against socialist state in Russia.

Second, Hitler and his fellow Nazi leaders drew considerable inspiration from how the white “settler” U.S. had “tamed” its “inferior races” with genocide, ethnic cleansing, and brutal, fascist-like racial terrorism, segregation, and disenfranchisement. The United States’ Indian reservations and Jim Crow South were Social Darwinian role models for the social policy architects of the Third Reich.

Third, it was the Soviet Union by far and away that defeated the supreme evil that was the Nazi regime, at the cost of 25 million dead (the United States lost just 277,000 people in Europe and North Africa during World War II).

Fourth, for all its considerable flaws, the authoritarian, bureaucratic-collectivist USSR developed a modern and urbanized society with health care and education for all and outside and against the savagely unequal and egoistic, accumulation-mad world capitalist system headquartered in London and New York.  Washington DC. (The U.S.-forced collapse of the Soviet Union and empire led to drastic reductions in the quality of life in Russia and Eastern Europe.)

Fifth, after it joined with USSR in the defeat of German, Italian, and Japanese fascism, the new global Pax Americana expanded upon its earlier history of genocide and slavery to become, well, one of “the worst evils in world history.”

“The problem after a war,” wrote the pacifist A.J. Muste in 1941, “is with the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?”

Consistent with Muste’s warning, victorious and relatively unscathed “America” – the only, global-reach Superpower after the “suicide of Europe” and the Nazis’ devastation of much of Russia – went on a global rampage after “winning” World War II (during which time U.S. imperial policymakers planned to make sure that Washington finally displaced the United Kingdom as global hegemon after the unprecedented carnage ceased). The planetary death toll resulting from the high-powered aggression of the U.S. and its allies and proxies since 1945 runs well into the millions. Along the way, the U.S. has: overthrown many dozens of governments (including democratically elected ones); funded, equipped trained and provided political cover for a host of U.S.-allied “Third World fascist” regimes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; subverted and pre-empted democracy across the planet; interfered in the internal political affairs of nearly every nation on Earth; spread its military installations into more than 100 “sovereign” states; led the world into a permanent arms race humanity can ill-afford; developed the capacity to blow the world up many times over.

Consistent with its founding genocidal elimination of original North American civilizations that anticipated “modern eco-science” and “maintain[ed] environmental harmony” (Churchill), the United States has also spearheaded the planetary expansion of a rapaciously eco-cideal world capitalist order that has set humanity on course for final environmental catastrophe: the Greenhouse Gassing to Death of Life on Earth, a crime that makes the Nazis look like small-time crooks.

It’s not for nothing that the world’s population has long ranked the U.S. as the leading threat to and on Earth.

Who will tame the United States? With all due respect for the people and forces that have worked to undermine U.S global hegemony over many years, the final cards are held by the very Earth that so many U.S.-Americans have been falsely led to believe they could conquer.  Nature bats last. The record-setting extreme weather that has hit the U.S. (“America”) in recent years are only early bases-on-balls compared to the late-inning World Series grand-slams Mother Nature is going to pulverize “America” and the world with in coming years. The real existential shit hits the fan when we can no longer grow, hunt, and fish enough food, find enough clean water, adequately cool our bodies, and fend off pandemics.

The socio-pathological climate-denier Trump is doing his eco-cidal best to speed that existential moment along. One example among many: but for the opposition of more level-headed operatives in his administration, he would have by now signed an executive order absurdly citing national security concerns as an excuse for forcing regional U.S. electric grid operators to continue purchasing power from coal-burning and nuclear-powered plants that have outlived their normal operational lifespans! What does a malignant, eco-fascistic narcissist like Trump care if the human race joins the anthropogenic Sixth Great Extinction after his death takes its toll and he learns that all the money he stole can never buy back his soul. (to paraphrase Bob Dylan)?

“America’s” old, rich, and white masters (Trump is just one of many)  – our parasitic “tamers” and takers– think they can pull up the drawbridges to restrict the coming environmental apocalypse to the poor and nonwhite global South and save the dwindling supply of life’s necessities and luxuries for themselves and their families in heavily guarded and automated compounds. But it doesn’t work that way. They can preserve themselves a bit longer than most, but the “No Planet B” (as the environmentalists say) they can run to after they’ve finally made the planet completely and finally uninhabitable even for the privileged and ecocidal Few. No U.S.-Americans, not even the richest and most powerful ones, can hop planets and galaxies like the Earth-colonizing and Earth-warming aliens who rule America in John Carpenter’s classic left science fiction movie They Live! Even they will be tamed to the point of erasure. As Earth is our witness, the laws of nature always win out in the end. The continent’s original inhabitants knew that.  The Holocaust they met in the name of “progress” was not progress.

Endnote

1) The 1832 “Black Hawk War” was a one-sided affair, typical of the many pitiless mass exterminations committed by supposedly noble “settlers” seeking to “tame the continent.” As penalty for the warrior Black Hawk and his followers’ determination to reclaim rich tribal lands brazenly occupied by whites in northern Illinois, the Sauk and Fox Indians lost 600 people, including hundreds of woman and children. Just 70 soldiers and “settlers” lost their lives. The conflict culminated in the so-called Battle of Bad Axe, on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River, near the present-day community of Victory in southwest Wisconsin. Better described as a massacre than a “battle,” this American military triumph involved U.S. General Henry Atkinson killing every Indian who tried to run for cover or to flee across the Mississippi River. On August 1, 1832, Black Hawk’s band reached the Mississippi at its confluence with the Bad Axe River. What followed was an atrocity, committed despite the Indians’ repeated attempts at surrender. “While the Sauk refugees were preparing rafts and canoes, the armed [U.S.] steamboat Warriorarrived,” historian Kerry Trask recounts, “whereupon Black Hawk tried to negotiate with its troops under a flag of truce. The Americans opened fire, killing twenty-three warriors.”

“As we neared them,” one US officer who “served” in the U.S. assault recalled, “they raised a white flag and endeavored to decoy us, but we were a little too old for them.”

Hundreds of Sauk and Fox men, women and children were shot, clubbed, and bayoneted to death on August 2nd. “US soldiers scalped most of the dead. They cut long strips of flesh from dead and wounded Indians for use as razor strops.” The slaughter was supported by cannon and rifle fire from the aptly named Warrior, which picked off tribal members swimming for their lives.

By Major Wakefield’s account, the US troops at Bad Axe “shrank not from their duty. They all joined in the work of death for death it was. We were by this time fast getting rid of those demons in human shape… the Ruler of the Universe, He who takes vengeance on the guilty, did not design those guilty wretches to escape His vengeance…”

The top “demon in human shape” – the old Sauk warrior Black Hawk – lived six years beyond the “war” that bore his name.  He was sent to a US reservation in Iowa after US President Andrew Jackson – a Trump favorite and himself a prolific Indian-killer – had Black Hawk paraded as celebrity war booty – as an exotic “savage” and proof of the United States’ military’s alleged great prowess in defeating such barbarian brutes – before gawking crowds in eastern US cities.

At Chicago’s United Center at least 41 times each National Hockey League season, more than 10,000 U.S. whites wear jerseys emblazoned with a caricature-like profile image of “chief” Black Hawk, whose people were obliterated and dispersed so that northern Illinois’s fertile fields and pastures could be turned into the private property of white  farmers, merchants, and industrialists.  Oh, but for the return of the days when America was great!
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https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/26/when-america-was-great-savage-white-un-settlers-raped-a-continent-and-assaulted-a-planet/

October 26, 2018
When America Was Great, Savage White Un-Settlers Raped a Continent and Assaulted a Planet
by Paul Street


    Your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings…are…a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

    – Frederick Douglass, July 4th, 1852

“Together,” Donald “Make America Great Again” Trump told U.S. Naval Academy graduates last May, “there is nothing Americans can’t do, absolutely nothing. In recent years, and even decades,” Trump added, “too many people have forgotten that truth. They’ve forgotten that our ancestors trounced an empire, tamed a continent, and triumphed over the worst evils in history.”

I was reminded of Trump’s statement recently as I reflected on the remarkable record of climate-change driven extreme weather events that have hit the United States in recent years.  Epic wild-fires, droughts, rains, floods, tornadoes, snowfalls, and hurricanes are humbling U.S.-America. They are only a foretaste of the stern continental taming U.S.-Americans can expect at the hands of Mother Nature in coming years.  (More on that below.)

Where was one to begin in processing the untruth and affront embedded in Trump’s reflection on how “America” was once “great”?

“Our ancestors”? I have a paternal grandfather who may have been descended from original 18th or even 17th century Scotch-Irish immigrants to North America, but my largest ethnic strain is Finnish, thanks to the Luhtala family’s “chain migration” to DeKalb, Illinois in the early 20th century, long after the closing of the western U.S. frontier. (The Luhtalas worked in barbed-wire plants to help the continent’s capitalist “tamers”/takers mark their territorial conquests off as private property.) Like hundreds of millions of other U.S-Americans, I have ancestors who came long after the nation’s original white and mostly English, Irish, and German “settlers.” (Currently, 14% of the U.S. population is foreign-born, the largest percentage since 1910, right after my Finnish great-grandparents arrived, when 15% of US-Americans were born in other countries.)

These “ancestors…trounced an empire”? Not really.  The U.S. merely broke off from the Western edge of the British Empire, which would go on to rule the world like no global hegemon until the post-World War II Pax Americana (more on that lovely formation below). The British Empire had a pretty damn good run from the end of the Napoleonic Wars through the rest of the 19thcentury.

For what it’s worth, the propertied masters atop the so-called American Revolution understood their new slave-owning republic as an empire – an “empire of liberty,” they called it, with no sense of irony given their dedication to the ruthless ethnic cleansing (to use a 20th century phrase) of the nation’s original inhabits and the expansion of Black chattel slavery.

“Tamed a continent”? Leaving aside the fact that Canada and Mexico also hold much of the North America, Trump’s phrase was an insolent slight of the continent’s original inhabitants. Here the president channeled the original “settlers” concept of the 10-18 million human beings who lived in North America prior to white-European invasion as pre-historic “savages” who required the stern hand of the “civilized” white man to impose order.

It was Orwellian twaddle and truth inversion. The continent’s First Nations people were highly civilized, unscathed by class rule, and harmoniously connected to the natural environment in ways that hold critical significance for human and other living things in our current age of capitalist ecocide, As the Native American author and activist Ward Churchill wrote more than two decades ago:

    “On…the day Christopher Columbus first washed up on a Caribbean beach, North America was long since endowed with an abundant and exceedingly complex cluster of civilizations.  Having continuously occupied the continent for at least 50,000 years, the native inhabitants evidenced a total population of perhaps 15 million, cities as large as the 40,000-resident urban center at Cahokia (in present-day Illinois), highly advanced conceptions of architecture and engineering, spiritual traditions embodying equivalents to modern eco-science, refined knowledge of pharmacology and holistic medicine, and highly sophisticated systems of governance, trade, and diplomacy.  The traditional economies of the continent were …based in environmentally sound farming procedures which originated well over half the vegetal foodstuffs now consumed by peoples the world over.  By and large, the indigenous societies demonstrating such attainments were organized along extremely egalitarian lines, with real property held collectively and matrifocality a normative standard.”

Pre-Conquest North America contained “large-scale societies which had perfected ways of organizing themselves into psychologically fulfilling wholes, experiencing very high standards of living, and still maintaining environmental harmony…War, in the Euro-derived sense in which the term is understood today” – as highly organized mass annihilation – “was,” Churchill noted, “unknown” among and between the First Nations.

Also unknown in the continent’s original civilizations was economic inequality and poverty on anything remotely like the scale of early modern Europe.  The Old World was home to a capitalist order whose relentless enclosure of the European commons and destruction of independent farmer and artisan livelihoods generated a surplus population desperate to spill onto North America. Now the U.S. itself hosts savage inequalities – the top tenth of the nation’s One Percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent and its riches three persons have as much net worth between as the bottom half – that make Western Europe (incubator of modern class rule) look egalitarian.

Tamed a continent? It was more like raped a continent.The “Indians” (absurdly so misnamed because the “settlers” mistakenly thought they had discovered “the Indes”) were seen by “Predator” – Churchill’s understandable (from an indigenist perspective) term for the European invaders – as animalized brutes fit for elimination and removal even as the newcomers incorporated numerous aspects of Native American culture (moccasins, canoes, and more).  A lethal combination of germs, superior numbers, technology, and killing capacities – including the moral capacity to wipe out whole villages with no more spiritual discomfort than that involved in shooting deer and coyotes – inflicted astonishing population decline on Native North America. One after another, original North American nations and tribes were liquidated and dispersed.  “By 1890,” Churchill noted, “fewer than 250,000 Indians remained alive within the United States, a degree of decimation extending into the upper ninetieth percentile.”

Predator’s massacre chain ran from Connecticut Captain John Mason’s burning and shooting of hundreds of Pequot villagers near Mystic River in May of 1637 through terrible events like the so-called Battle (massacre) of Bad Axe (1832) and the Sand Creek Massacre (1864) to the Wounded Knee bloodbath (the so-called Battle of Wounded Knee) in December of 1891, when the U.S. Calvary killed 150-300 Lakota men, women, and children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  The United States’ beloved first president, George Washington, was known to the Iroquois as “Town Destroyer.”

In a popular first-person account of the “battle of Bad Axe” – the gruesome culmination of the brutal removal of the Sauk nation from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin in the “Black Hawk War” [1] – U.S. Army Major John Allen Wakefield offered some remarkable reflections. “It was a horrid sight,” Wakefield wrote, “to witness little [Native American] children, wounded and suffering the most excruciating pain, although they were of the savage enemy, and the common enemy of the country…It was enough to make the heart of the most hardened being on earth to ache” But, Wakefield wrote, “I must confess, that it filled my heart with gratitude and joy, to think that I had been instrumental, with many others, indelivering my country of those merciless savages, and restoring those [invading white] people again to their peaceful homes and firesides” – on land that had for centuries hosted homes and firesides for the Sauk.

Such sentiments were common among the genocidal white killers across the centuries of North American “settlement” and ethnic cleansing.  From the colonial era on, the savage “settlers”  reveled in the mass slaying of indigenous people (including women, children, and older men) they saw as inherently “evil” and (curiously enough) “savage.” “Our Great Father,” a government agent told the Sauks, “will forbear no longer. He has tried to reclaim [Native Americans] and they grow worse. He is resolved to sweep them from the face of the earth. … If they cannot be made good they must be killed.”

This kind of truth-inverting narrative, depicting the continent’s peaceful original inhabitants and not their coldblooded butchers as the “merciless savages,” was typical of how the invading white un-“settlers” justified their genocidal extermination of North America’s first civilizations.

During the late 18thcentury and early 19th century, the Native North American Holocaust was meant among other things to clear the way for another kind of Holocaust – the sadistic forced labor and torture regimeof Black chattel slavery, the key to the United States’ emergence as a major capitalist power by the mid-19thcentury. As the United States moved into the railroad and industrial era, its rising accumulation of capital fueled above by lucrative, highly profitable  southern cotton slavery, the great Black ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass – the truly great American who Trump seemed last year to see as a living contemporarypersonality (a rapper like his good friend Kanye West, perhaps) – asked “what, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” His answer:

“a day that reveals to him…the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings…mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour….Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

The two and a half century Holocaust of Black chattel slavery is the persistently unacknowledged and uncompensated historical taproot of a stark Black-white inequality and hyper-segregation that continues to haunt “American” life and feed the nation’s gigantic, historically unmatched system of mass incarceration. The southern Confederacy, whose noxious historical monuments Trump and other white nationalists defend in the name of “history,” treasonously seceded from the Union and forced the Civil War for one clear reason: the southern slave-owning ruling class’s determination that the election of Abraham Lincoln spelled the end of the racist chattel system.

It wasn’t just human beings that the white “settlers” “tamed” – raped,that is – when “America” was “Great.”  Between European “settlement” and the aftermath of the Civil War, Predator saw fit to fell 52% of the deciduous U.S. forest east of the Mississippi. A fifth of that remaining woodland bit the dust between 1850 and 1909, thanks to accelerating waves of deforestation led by agricultural clearing and logging in the Great Lakes region and the South (where Black cotton slavery was largely reconstituted in new forms in the last third of the nineteenth century).

Then there was the decline of original wildlife, not so much “tamed” as exterminated. “As the 19th century progressed,” the National Park Service reports:

    “wildlife habitat was dramatically reduced by deforestation and wetland filling, combined with over-hunting. New markets for wildlife made killing wildlife a financially profitable venture for hunters, who took advantage of improved transportation methods like railroads to gain access to previously inaccessible areas. The lack of legal protection for wildlife led to the slaughter of many species, some of which were hunted to extinction or near extinction.Wildlife like passenger pigeons and buffalo, which had been extremely abundant, were hunted to extinction(or nearly so). Migratory birds were especially impacted, since there was a huge market for the feathers of birds such as egrets, used to create women’s fashionable hats” (emphasis added).

The elimination of the continent’s once great bison herds was nauseating exterminism. Richard Dodge, an army officer, reported in 1877 that “Buffalo were slaughtered without sense or discretion…Where there were myriads of buffalo the year before, there were now myriads of carcasses.  The air was foul with sickening stench, and the vast plain, and the vast plain, which only a short twelvemonth before teemed with animal life, was a dead, solitary, putrid desert.”

Soon the meat barons of Chicago would devise ways to “tame” – to kill and process on a previously unimaginable scale that brought droves of tourists from around the world to marvel at the modern art and science of animal slaughter – many thousands of cows, pigs, and sheep per day in the giant meatpacking plants of Upton Sinclair’s famously sickening “Jungle.” The harrowing and alienating work carried out in these and other vast new mass production workplaces across the nation showed that antebellum and Civil War era labor activists were right to remind Americans that slavery took a waged form as well as a chattel form – and that antidemocratic class rule was not limited to the slavery of the U.S. South and the serfdom of Russia.

As mostly white U.S. workers rose against their ruthless exploitation under the rule of “wage slavery” in the rapidly expanding new industrial capitalism of the post-Civil War, the capitalist press not uncommonly justified the bloody repression of striking and marching proletarians and killing of their radical leaders by describing them as “white savages.”  As the labor historian James Green noted in his classic study Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and a Bombing That Divided America:

    “Many [U.S.] editorialists relied on animal metaphors to describe the anarchists, whom they branded ‘ungrateful hyenas,’ ‘incendiary vermin,’ and ‘slavic wolves.’…the alien incendiaries were often compared to other hated groups like the menacing Apache Indians.  The St. Louis Globe-Democrat applied an old frontier adage about ‘savage’ tribes to the new menace.  ‘There are no good anarchists except dead anarchists,’ it proclaimed.”

When railroad workers went out on strike in Chicago, U.S. infantry troops were summoned fresh from Dakotas campaigns against the Sioux to kills dozens of working-class men and boys – “white savages” – on the city’s Southwest side.

“Our ancestors,” Trump said, “triumphed over the worst evils in history”(Trump)? What, like racialized genocide and chattel slavery, the elimination of species, the rampant destruction of natural habitat, the rise of Robber Baron plutocracy, and concentrated wage-slavery on a scale that Karl Marx could barely have imagined? The “taming of the continent” by “our” great gun- and bullwhip-wielding “ancestors” were great triumphs for all of these and terrible historical scourges.

But, of course, the last clause of the final Trump sentence I quoted at the beginning of this essay refers to the 20thcentury.  By “worst evils in history,” Orange (Truth-) Crush(er) meant German fascism/Nazism and Soviet “communism.” And here there are at least five problems.

First, the United States’ interwar establishment was fairly pleased with European fascism until the Third Reich and its Japanese partner threatened to shut off the world system to America’s rising global economic power.  U.S. business class “elites” saw fascism as a welcome disciplining force to crush European trade unions and Leftists and as a bulwark against socialist state in Russia.

Second, Hitler and his fellow Nazi leaders drew considerable inspiration from how the white “settler” U.S. had “tamed” its “inferior races” with genocide, ethnic cleansing, and brutal, fascist-like racial terrorism, segregation, and disenfranchisement. The United States’ Indian reservations and Jim Crow South were Social Darwinian role models for the social policy architects of the Third Reich.

Third, it was the Soviet Union by far and away that defeated the supreme evil that was the Nazi regime, at the cost of 25 million dead (the United States lost just 277,000 people in Europe and North Africa during World War II).

Fourth, for all its considerable flaws, the authoritarian, bureaucratic-collectivist USSR developed a modern and urbanized society with health care and education for all and outside and against the savagely unequal and egoistic, accumulation-mad world capitalist system headquartered in London and New York.  Washington DC. (The U.S.-forced collapse of the Soviet Union and empire led to drastic reductions in the quality of life in Russia and Eastern Europe.)

Fifth, after it joined with USSR in the defeat of German, Italian, and Japanese fascism, the new global Pax Americana expanded upon its earlier history of genocide and slavery to become, well, one of “the worst evils in world history.”

“The problem after a war,” wrote the pacifist A.J. Muste in 1941, “is with the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?”

Consistent with Muste’s warning, victorious and relatively unscathed “America” – the only, global-reach Superpower after the “suicide of Europe” and the Nazis’ devastation of much of Russia – went on a global rampage after “winning” World War II (during which time U.S. imperial policymakers planned to make sure that Washington finally displaced the United Kingdom as global hegemon after the unprecedented carnage ceased). The planetary death toll resulting from the high-powered aggression of the U.S. and its allies and proxies since 1945 runs well into the millions. Along the way, the U.S. has: overthrown many dozens of governments (including democratically elected ones); funded, equipped trained and provided political cover for a host of U.S.-allied “Third World fascist” regimes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; subverted and pre-empted democracy across the planet; interfered in the internal political affairs of nearly every nation on Earth; spread its military installations into more than 100 “sovereign” states; led the world into a permanent arms race humanity can ill-afford; developed the capacity to blow the world up many times over.

Consistent with its founding genocidal elimination of original North American civilizations that anticipated “modern eco-science” and “maintain[ed] environmental harmony” (Churchill), the United States has also spearheaded the planetary expansion of a rapaciously eco-cideal world capitalist order that has set humanity on course for final environmental catastrophe: the Greenhouse Gassing to Death of Life on Earth, a crime that makes the Nazis look like small-time crooks.

It’s not for nothing that the world’s population has long ranked the U.S. as the leading threat to and on Earth.

Who will tame the United States? With all due respect for the people and forces that have worked to undermine U.S global hegemony over many years, the final cards are held by the very Earth that so many U.S.-Americans have been falsely led to believe they could conquer.  Nature bats last. The record-setting extreme weather that has hit the U.S. (“America”) in recent years are only early bases-on-balls compared to the late-inning World Series grand-slams Mother Nature is going to pulverize “America” and the world with in coming years. The real existential shit hits the fan when we can no longer grow, hunt, and fish enough food, find enough clean water, adequately cool our bodies, and fend off pandemics.

The socio-pathological climate-denier Trump is doing his eco-cidal best to speed that existential moment along. One example among many: but for the opposition of more level-headed operatives in his administration, he would have by now signed an executive order absurdly citing national security concerns as an excuse for forcing regional U.S. electric grid operators to continue purchasing power from coal-burning and nuclear-powered plants that have outlived their normal operational lifespans! What does a malignant, eco-fascistic narcissist like Trump care if the human race joins the anthropogenic Sixth Great Extinction after his death takes its toll and he learns that all the money he stole can never buy back his soul. (to paraphrase Bob Dylan)?

“America’s” old, rich, and white masters (Trump is just one of many)  – our parasitic “tamers” and takers– think they can pull up the drawbridges to restrict the coming environmental apocalypse to the poor and nonwhite global South and save the dwindling supply of life’s necessities and luxuries for themselves and their families in heavily guarded and automated compounds. But it doesn’t work that way. They can preserve themselves a bit longer than most, but the “No Planet B” (as the environmentalists say) they can run to after they’ve finally made the planet completely and finally uninhabitable even for the privileged and ecocidal Few. No U.S.-Americans, not even the richest and most powerful ones, can hop planets and galaxies like the Earth-colonizing and Earth-warming aliens who rule America in John Carpenter’s classic left science fiction movie They Live! Even they will be tamed to the point of erasure. As Earth is our witness, the laws of nature always win out in the end. The continent’s original inhabitants knew that.  The Holocaust they met in the name of “progress” was not progress.

Endnote

1) The 1832 “Black Hawk War” was a one-sided affair, typical of the many pitiless mass exterminations committed by supposedly noble “settlers” seeking to “tame the continent.” As penalty for the warrior Black Hawk and his followers’ determination to reclaim rich tribal lands brazenly occupied by whites in northern Illinois, the Sauk and Fox Indians lost 600 people, including hundreds of woman and children. Just 70 soldiers and “settlers” lost their lives. The conflict culminated in the so-called Battle of Bad Axe, on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River, near the present-day community of Victory in southwest Wisconsin. Better described as a massacre than a “battle,” this American military triumph involved U.S. General Henry Atkinson killing every Indian who tried to run for cover or to flee across the Mississippi River. On August 1, 1832, Black Hawk’s band reached the Mississippi at its confluence with the Bad Axe River. What followed was an atrocity, committed despite the Indians’ repeated attempts at surrender. “While the Sauk refugees were preparing rafts and canoes, the armed [U.S.] steamboat Warriorarrived,” historian Kerry Trask recounts, “whereupon Black Hawk tried to negotiate with its troops under a flag of truce. The Americans opened fire, killing twenty-three warriors.”

“As we neared them,” one US officer who “served” in the U.S. assault recalled, “they raised a white flag and endeavored to decoy us, but we were a little too old for them.”

Hundreds of Sauk and Fox men, women and children were shot, clubbed, and bayoneted to death on August 2nd. “US soldiers scalped most of the dead. They cut long strips of flesh from dead and wounded Indians for use as razor strops.” The slaughter was supported by cannon and rifle fire from the aptly named Warrior, which picked off tribal members swimming for their lives.

By Major Wakefield’s account, the US troops at Bad Axe “shrank not from their duty. They all joined in the work of death for death it was. We were by this time fast getting rid of those demons in human shape… the Ruler of the Universe, He who takes vengeance on the guilty, did not design those guilty wretches to escape His vengeance…”

The top “demon in human shape” – the old Sauk warrior Black Hawk – lived six years beyond the “war” that bore his name.  He was sent to a US reservation in Iowa after US President Andrew Jackson – a Trump favorite and himself a prolific Indian-killer – had Black Hawk paraded as celebrity war booty – as an exotic “savage” and proof of the United States’ military’s alleged great prowess in defeating such barbarian brutes – before gawking crowds in eastern US cities.

At Chicago’s United Center at least 41 times each National Hockey League season, more than 10,000 U.S. whites wear jerseys emblazoned with a caricature-like profile image of “chief” Black Hawk, whose people were obliterated and dispersed so that northern Illinois’s fertile fields and pastures could be turned into the private property of white  farmers, merchants, and industrialists.  Oh, but for the return of the days when America was great!

It was Orwellian twaddle and truth inversion. The continent’s First Nations people were highly civilized, unscathed by class rule, and harmoniously connected to the natural environment in ways that hold critical significance for human and other living things in our current age of capitalist ecocide,

I hate to lay myself open to the slings and arrows of people who have their minds made up about everything, but as usual, the truth is more complicated than "Indians good---White men evil".

There were many different native tribes, some of which WERE highly civilized and peaceful..

But in some places (like here for instance)  we had the Commanches, who were warlike and brutal. They loved to steal white women and children, and torture them and enslave them.

This was written by a local guy whose family lived just east of Austin in the area known as Hornsby's Bend. It's a 30 minute drive from my house, if the traffic isn't too heavy.



I came to Texas over half a century ago, and am now an old man, the only sur-
vivor of three brothers who served Texas in her early strug-
gles. Josiah Wilbarger, who was scalped by the Indians a
few miles east of where the capitol of Texas now is, was
my brother. He survived, as this book relates, the massacre
of his companions, but afterwards died from a disease of
the skull caused by injuries. Having spent the prime of my
life among the pioneers of Texas, and therefore knowing
personally about many of the fights and massacres des-
cribed in this volume, the idea occurred to me many years
ago that when the early settlers were all dead their posterity
would only know from tradition the perils and hardships
encountered in the early settlement of Texas. When I
found that no one else seemed inclined to preserve in his-
tory the story of massacres and conflicts with Indians, I
undertook the work myself. During some twenty years I
have carefully obtained from the lips of those who knew
most of the facts stated in this volume. For their general
correctness I can vouch, for I knew personally most of the
early settlers of Texas, and have relied on those only whom
I believed to be trustworthy. Many of the articles con-
tained in this book were written by others, who were either
cognizant of the facts themselves or had obtained their data
from reliable sources.

THE Comanche Indians were to Texas what the Pequot
Indians were to New England and what the Sioux
were to the traders and trappers of the west. Their

incursions were for many years a terror to the border
settlers of Texas, for they were a warlike, cruel and treach-
erous tribe, and as they always traveled on horseback they

could swoop down unexpectedly from their distant
 stronghold upon the settlements, commit murders and

depredations, and retreat before any effective pursuit
could be made. It was a party of this tribe of Indians who
captured the young lady whose sad story we are about to
relate. Her father, Andrew Lockhart, emigrated from the
State of Illinois in the year 1828 and settled on the Guada-
lupe river, in what is now DeWitt county — then De Witt's
colony. It was in the fall or winter of 1838 that Matilda
Lockhart, Rhoda Putnam, Elizabeth Putnam, Juda Put-
nam and James Putnam left the houses of their parents one
day and went to the woods to gather pecans. While they
were thus engaged a party of Indians suddenly rushed
upon them. They discovered the Indians too late to escape
and were all captured. When the Indians first came in
sight Miss Lockhart fled for the house, and possibly might
have escaped had not the youngest Miss Putnam im-
plored her not to leave her. The noble girl, pitying her
youthful companion, turned to aid her and both were cap-
tured. The Indians fastened these unfortunate captive

on horses with rawhide thongs and hurried off with them
into the Guadalupe mountains. Captain John Tumlinson,
who was out on a surveying expedition, encountered these
Indians, but as he had but six men with him and the In-
dians numbered at least fifty he was compelled to beat a
hasty retreat. He did not know at that time that they had
prisoners with them. The Indians followed Captain Tum-
linson and his men about twenty-four hours, and probably
would have killed them all if they had not accidentally dis-
covered they were still in pursuit of them, long after they
supposed the chase had been abandoned. The party, as
they were traveling along leisurely, saw a black stump
ahead of them, and, supposing it was a bear, the men halted
for the purpose of killing it. Captain Tumlinson rode for-
ward to shoot the supposed bear, and as he did so, one of
the men behind happened to look back, and discovered the
Indians still following their trail. The alarm was given,
and the Cap fain and his men hastily continued their retreat.
After running about half a mile through the prairie, they
came to some timber, where they fell in with a large drove
of mustang horses. The frightened animals divided into
squads and ran off in various directions. Captain Tumlin-
son and his men wisely followed one of these squads, there-
by making it difficult for their pursuers to find their trail,
and escaped.

This raid of the Indians so terrified the settlers on the
west side of the Guadalupe river that they abandoned their
homes and forted together on the east side. When Captain
Tumlinson arrived at the west side of the river, he found
that all the houses in the settlement were deserted. Ho
knew nothing of the capture of Miss Lockhart and the
young Putnams until he crossed the river and reached thfc
house of Mr. William Taylor, where he first heard thersad
story. A company of men was immediately raised, who
went in pursuit of the Indians, but all to no purpose. They
had got too far ahead to be overtaken. The poor captives
were carried far into the Indian country, where they suf-
fered terribly from hunger, hardships and exposure to the
inclemencies of the weather.

During her captivity Miss Lockhart said that sometimes
she had to travel from fifty to seventy-five miles a day on a

bare back horse, and that seldom a day passed that she was
not severely flogged. In the winter of 1839 a party of these
same Indians took up their quarters on the San Saba river,
about one hundred miles above where the city of Austin
now stands. Information of this rendezvous was given to
Colonel John H. Moore, of Fayette county, who raised a
party of about sixty men, and, accompanied by a party of
Lipan Indians, he went to their encampment and attacked
them, when a desperate fight ensued.

Miss Lockhart was in the Indian camp when this attack
was made, and knowing it was made by white men, she
screamed as loud as she could, hoping they would hear
her and come to her rescue. The Indians, suspecting the
cause of her screaming, drowned her cries with their still
louder yells, and when she persisted one of them near by
became so exasperated that he seized her by the hair of her
head and tore out a large part of it. The father of the un-
fortunate girl was with the attacking party under Colonel
Moore, and it was with a heavy heart that he returned to
the settlement without his daughter, who had been a pris-
oner for over a year, and whom he felt quite sure was in the
Indian village.

Upon one occasion a party of Indians who had Miss Lock-
hart in possession came within one or two days travel of
San Antonio and pitched their camp. As they knew she
was aware of their proximity to the white settlements, and
fearing she might attempt to escape, they severely burned
the soles of her feet to keep her from running away.

Not a great while after this a treaty was made with the
Comanche Indians, under which Miss Lockhart was deliv-
ered up to the Texas Commissioners at San Antonio and
subsequently sent back to her family. But the once
sprightly, joyous young girl, whose presence had been
everywhere like a gleam of sunshine penetrating the gloom
of the wilderness, was a mere wreck of her former self.
Her health was almost utterly ruined by the privations and
hardships she had undergone and the brutal treatment to
which she had been subjected by her savage captors.

When captured by the Indians, Miss Lockhart was only
about thirteen or fourteen years of age. She was given over
to the squaws, whom she served in the capacity of a slave. 

Their treatment of her was much more cruel than that of
the bucks. The numerous scars upon her body and limbs
bore silent testimony of savage cruelty. The ladies who
examined her wounds after her reclamation (some of whom
are yet alive) stated that there was not a place on her body
as large as the palm of the hand which had not been burned
with hot irons. After lingering some two or three years,
she died. Her father was a brother of Bird Lockhart, for
whom the town of Lockhart, in Caldwell county, was named.
As to the Putnam children, the son was reclaimed many
years afterwards. He had acquired many of the habits of
the Indians and spoke their language. We have been in-
formed that Khoda became the wife of a chief and refused
to return home. Elizabeth was finally reclaimed, but J uda
Putnam remained a captive among the Indians for about
fourteen years. She was several times sold, and once was
purchased by a party of Missouri traders, who, after retain-
ing her for some time, sold her to a man by the name of
Chinault, who subsequently moved to Texas and settled in
Gonzales county, the same section in which Miss Putnam
had been captured by the Indians. With this man she had
lived seven years. The citizens of Gonzales county, know-
ing she had been an Indian captive, and seeing the strong
resemblance she bore to the Putnam family, came to the
conclusion that possibly she might be the long lost Juda
Putnam. After a time the Putnam family began to look
into the matter, and questioned her in regard to her parent-
age and former life. She had forgotten her own name,
and could tell nothing of her life prior to the time the
Indians captured her; and of that event she had but a dim
and uncertain recollection, as she was only about seven
years of age when captured. A sister of hers said on ojie
occasion, when speaking of the matter, that if this lady was
really her long lost sister she could be identified by a most
singular mark on her person. An examination was made
by this sister and some other ladies, and the mark was found
precisely as it had been described. This, together with her
striking likeness to the family, left no doubt in the mind of
any one that she was the identical Juda Putnam who had
been captured by the Indians in Gonzales county twenty -one
years before.

Thus, after fourteen years captivity among the Indians
and seven years with Mr. Chinault, was this young lady by
a train of circumstances brought back to the very spot from
whence she had been stolen, and by the merest chance was
recognized and restored to her relatives. Verily, truth is
often stranger than fiction.

There is a certain class of maudlin, sentimental writers
who are forever bewailing the rapid disappearance of the
Indian tribes from the American continent. We must confess
we don't fraternize with our brother scribblers on this point.
They have evidently taken their ideas of the Indian char-
acter from Coopers novels and similar productions, which
give about as correct delineation of it as are the grotesque
figures a school boy draws on his slate of the animals or
objects he intends to represent. There may have been, and
no doubt there have been, some individuals among the In-
dians like those described by Cooper, et id ornne genus, but
they have been like angels' visits, few and far between.
His general character may be summarily stated in Byron's
words, when speaking of his hero, the Corsair: "He had'
one virtue linked to a thousand crimes." This solitary vir-
tue may have been physical courage, hospitality or some-
thing else, but among his unquestionable vices may be reck-
oned cruelty, treachery, vindictiveness, brutality, indolence
(except when spurred to action by his thirst for rapine and
blood) and his utter inability to advance beyond the condition
in which nature had originally placed him. There is, how-
ever, one notable exception to this general rule, which is
most singular and difficult to account for. We mean the
Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, who physically are similar
to all the other North American tribes, but differ from
them as widely in all other respects as any of the Caucasian
races.


J.W. Wilbarger, Indian Depredations in Texas


Just the racist opinions of a guy who actually lived through those times. What would he know? Just someone who was actually there, as opposed to someone who got their information in graduate school in some modern university where guilt is served up in heaping portions along with the curriculum.

I just reckon his POV is at least as likely to be correct as some PC asshole who got his information from our modern re-write of history.



« Last Edit: October 26, 2018, 02:22:47 PM by Eddie »
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Quote
J.W. Wilbarger, Indian Depredations in Texas


Just the racist opinions of a guy who actually lived through those times. What would he know? Just someone who was actually there, as opposed to someone who got their information in graduate school in some modern university where guilt is served up in heaping portions along with the curriculum.

I just reckon his POV is at least as likely to be correct as some PC asshole who got his information from our modern re-write of history.

Actually, Wilbarger's is a fascinating account. And as you know, there truth is always far more nuanced than the writers of history (almost always in the employ of the victors) would have it. A familiar trope of 19th century authors was to refer to the generic Indian as "Lo," as in "Lo, the noble savage...," in mockery of Cooperian sentimentality.

You're absolutely correct, of course: improvements in scholarship and research methods have absolutely nothing to add to the record of an account written contemporaneously by someone wth an interest in the subject.

I'm sure the native peoples reacted as agreeably to the incursions of the whites on their lands as you would when the visitors from Alpha Centauri arrive and tell you the Great Father  in Betelgeuse needs for you to clear the fuck off your toothstead, but you'll get a handful of beads and some smallpox blankets in return. Fully enthusiastic.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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