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Thread: Native Americans Stereotype versus Reality

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    Senior Member Soldier of Wodann's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Native Americans Stereotype versus Reality

    A friend of mine stumbled upon a very interesting essay written by Mr. Mark Twain about the Native American stereotype versus the reality. This is very relevant considering the modern view that all Natives were peace loving, friendly and honorable and that Whites are evil.
    Here it is:
    The Noble Red Man - Mark Twain

    Quite a passionate essay.
    Any thoughts?

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    Senior Member Elysium's Avatar
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    I will read it shortly; however, before I do so I would like to say that I have heard arguments against the stereotypical views in that they did not "love animals" and treat them like they would treat humans and they made some very rare and unique species extinct. Apparently, they also had some bazare rituals.

    Looking forwad to reading.
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    Senior Member Loddfafner's Avatar
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    Despite all the romanticization, they fought and exploited each other viciously and wrecked the old ecology. So much for the gentle custodians of Mother Earth.

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    that tends to embody the truth of what we have on our Indian reservations here. They will do anything to get a tourists money. On the other hand I feel Mr. Twain should have used a bit more tact. Sure the image in romanticized literature isn't close to truth but I feel he must have had something stolen before writing this piece.

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    Senior Member Soldier of Wodann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leof View Post
    that tends to embody the truth of what we have on our Indian reservations here. They will do anything to get a tourists money. On the other hand I feel Mr. Twain should have used a bit more tact. Sure the image in romanticized literature isn't close to truth but I feel he must have had something stolen before writing this piece.
    Well that isn't the only thing he portrayed them negatively in, so I am pretty sure he had a clear state of mind. I don't usually like Twain's writing style all that much, but he does have some interesting things. That piece was very well written.

    We are born to fight and to die and to continue the Flow
    The Flow of our People


    Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.

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    Senior Member Kurtz's Avatar
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    This text is actually quite bad. On the one hand, shouting that Indians were so brave and Europeans were monsters is wrong. On the other, saying our ancestors never treated them like crap is false.

    What we now consider Native American are some peculiar kind of inbreds poor humans deprived of everything. These people are dommed. However, I have a certain interest in the ancient Amerindians, which looked and acted little like our modern Natives. I attached some pictures of these people, whom Tocqueville considered as reminiscent of his Germanic forefathers.

    When I perceive the resemblance which exists between the political
    institutions of our ancestors, the Germans, and of the wandering tribes
    of North America; between the customs described by Tacitus, and those of
    which I have sometimes been a witness, I cannot help thinking that the
    same cause has brought about the same results in both hemispheres;
    Democracy in America, first tome, The three races

    I attached some pictures of ancient and unaltered Amerindians.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    "The heavenly motions... are nothing but a continuous song for several voices, perceived not by the ear but by the intellect,
    a figured music which sets landmarks
    in the immeasurable flow of time."

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    I wouldn't feel so well either, had I been colonized the same way.

    Research shows that up to 70% of the risks to our health involve thingssuch as self-esteem, feelings of oppression, psychological conditions,sense of lack of control and what can be summed up as the emotional responseof "shame". Aboriginal people find themselves in social situationswhere these conditions are prevalent
    Source

    Ideally, all but natives should off the Americas.

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    Senior Member Soldier of Wodann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    This text is actually quite bad. On the one hand, shouting that Indians were so brave and Europeans were monsters is wrong. On the other, saying our ancestors never treated them like crap is false.
    The question is, did their behavior warrant such treatment? In the modern Americas we are taught they never did anything wrong, which is quite frankly utter bull***. As if Europeans just heinously wanted to kill them all for their enjoyment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    What we now consider Native American are some peculiar kind of inbreds poor humans deprived of everything. These people are dommed. However, I have a certain interest in the ancient Amerindians, which looked and acted little like our modern Natives. I attached some pictures of these people, whom Tocqueville considered as reminiscent of his Germanic forefathers.
    They are the same people. Difference is, one didn't have to adapt.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    When I perceive the resemblance which exists between the political
    institutions of our ancestors, the Germans, and of the wandering tribes
    of North America; between the customs described by Tacitus, and those of
    which I have sometimes been a witness, I cannot help thinking that the
    same cause has brought about the same results in both hemispheres;
    Democracy in America, first tome, The three races
    A somewhat insulting comparison IMO. Germanic tribes, with the onset of the conquering Romans, adapted to this new world, and excelled in it. The Natives couldn't/didn't.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    I attached some pictures of ancient and unaltered Amerindians.
    Doesn't prove anything other than that they liked to take pretty pictures of Native chiefs. Most of them looked nothing like that.

    We are born to fight and to die and to continue the Flow
    The Flow of our People


    Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.

  9. #9
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    The Noble Savage(tm) is as false an image as has been created by any European. That the Indians are Ignoble Savages does not follow. Twain had a point that the literary Indian is a pipe dream. His essay was hardly an accurate description. I am put more in the mind of a Modest Proposal. Blind worship is just as dehumanizing as blind hatred or disgust. Leatherstocking Tales are one side of the coin and this essay(rant) is the other.

    The tribes were seperate entities and painting them all with the same brush is like saying that Mongolians, Chinese, East Indians and Japanese are the same. There were tecnological, social and religious and physical differences between many tribes.

    Having spent time at a number of Indian's homes I did not find them to be more prone to vices than whites with the exception of frequently being chain-smokers. I have found them more likely to give presents to relative strangers after visiting for a while. There are lots of alcoholic Indians but there are also lots who don’t drink. I have never been to one of the casinos so I can not give a fair opinion. I find casinos to be rather nasty as a concept and am not going out of my way to see if Indian ones are better or worse than Las Vegas.


    As far as self governing goes it has never really been an option. Tribes are at best 'domestic dependant nations'. I think the Six Nations were doing as well as anyone else until the constituent tribes were conquered. There is a major ‘brain drain’ from most reservations that has been making corruption and other problems of tribal government worse for decades.

    I do not know much about the situation of the Aborigines when the English settled but it sounds like there were a number of major differences despite both having similarities.


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    Senior Member Kurtz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soldier of Wodann View Post
    The question is, did their behavior warrant such treatment? In the modern Americas we are taught they never did anything wrong, which is quite frankly utter bull***. As if Europeans just heinously wanted to kill them all for their enjoyment.
    I thought my second and third sentences would have been clear.

    We shouldn't even consider the fact that they may have done "wrong" things or "good" with our own Christian overlook. They were simply living here, in a somewhat primitive state, but with their own morality and their own strong culture. They were hunters, gatherers, warriors. We came here and took possession of the land they inhabitated, and chased, isolated or killed them when they refused to cooperate. This is "bad" according to our forefathers' Christian worldview (which I don't share). The black and white vision schools teach us is 100% false; adopting the exact opposite (a white and black vision?) is as silly. Amerindians were not heroes, and certainly had not more merit or deserved more praise than our ancestors; they were "losers" in the cruel evolutionnary game, and there were ways we could have treated them more fairly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soldier of Wodann View Post
    They are the same people. Difference is, one didn't have to adapt.
    They were the same people, except that they lived free in their forests and plains, lived by hunting, had their sacred grounds and lands untouched and never ate fast-food. Comparing the now desperatly obese, sick, inbred, drunk and drugged Amerindian communities with what they (that is, their ancestors) were centuries ago is ridiculous.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soldier of Wodann View Post
    A somewhat insulting comparison IMO. Germanic tribes, with the onset of the conquering Romans, adapted to this new world, and excelled in it. The Natives couldn't/didn't.
    Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America Read the whole comparison by searching for the right parts with the search option, and then write a more complete answer.

    For the natives, North-America wasn't the New World, it was the world. As if the Romans someday around 0 BC landed in Europe and began colonizing every Germanic territories. How do you think it would have ended like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soldier of Wodann View Post
    Doesn't prove anything other than that they liked to take pretty pictures of Native chiefs. Most of them looked nothing like that.
    First, "they" in your answer must refer to White Americans, who actually took these pictures. And no, I have to admit, not all of the North American natives looked like this. They were however much closer to those modest but noble looks than what Twain describes in those stupid words:

    He is little, and scrawny, and black, and dirty; and, judged by even the most charitable of our canons of human excellence, is thoroughly pitiful and contemptible. There is nothing in his eye or his nose that is attractive, and if there is anything in his hair that--however, that is a feature which will not bear too close examination . . . He wears no bracelets on his arms or ankles; his hunting suit is gallantly fringed, but not intentionally; when he does not wear his disgusting rabbit-skin robe, his hunting suit consists wholly of the half of a horse blanket brought over in the Pinta or the Mayflower, and frayed out and fringed by inveterate use. He is not rich enough to possess a belt; he never owned a moccasin or wore a shoe in his life; and truly he is nothing but a poor, filthy, naked scurvy vagabond, whom to exterminate were a charity to the Creator's worthier insects and reptiles which he oppresses.

    My biggest laugh is at the passage where Twain claims they are short. Plains Indians were the tallest people in the world in the late 1800s: http://www.albionmonitor.com/0105b/plainsindians.html This is one among many sources.
    "The heavenly motions... are nothing but a continuous song for several voices, perceived not by the ear but by the intellect,
    a figured music which sets landmarks
    in the immeasurable flow of time."

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