As part of my month in California, I spent a couple of weeks in Barstow where there is... not much. A lot of pretty desert rocks, a tiny portion of kitchy Route 66, and a drive-in movie theater. Which, in the desert, is a pretty spectacular thing to do. Also, Fort Irwin; that's where my job was, hence the astounding tank crossing sign. Anyway, I have more pictures and not much else to say about the trip so, enjoy some blogfill on using critical thought in History class.
Please post at least two paragraphs on the role of Native American Indians in the early history of the American Republic, particularly with regard to the rise of Tecumseh and Indian Nationalism. Consider as well the role of the tribes in the War of 1812.
It seems to me that Native Americans primarily played the role of an annoyance who were in the way of white men taking what they wanted, with regards to the way they are described in the histories of America at the time. At best they were portrayed as “noble savages” by the likes of President Jefferson, deserving of white education and civilization with the lofty and smug goal of eventual assimilation. At worst they were demonized as simply murderous savages, and there seemed to be a great big blind spot with regards to why, exactly, the Indians were always attacking white settlements, or at the very least a shameless lack of guilt. Imagine if I came over to your house, uninvited, took all your stuff and then said I was doing you a favor by letting you stay in the basement! This is what the colonists did, in effect, and we shouldn’t be the least bit surprised that they sometimes got a bit pissed about it.
During the lead-up to the war of 1812, Tenskwatawa, a Shawnee, had a religious revelation after giving up alcohol. He saw the influence of the whites in his homeland as a great evil, and he and his brother Tecumseh worked to make a confederation of Native Americans in order to stop the invader’s gluttonous westward expansion into their lands. They were helped in this by the British, who were trying to harry and distract American troops in aid to their own war. Once the Americans had secured several important and bloody victories over the Indian Tribes, they were free to direct their fuller attention toward the British.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 4:26:28 PM EST
Something I'm curious about, with the slaughtering of women and children at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend...that part seemed to me to jump out the most in the chapter, and it seems like it also did for you. Maybe because it seemed that they had possibly gotten past these ways, but I'm curious if the Native Americans also used these tactics when raiding white settlements. My guess is yes, they did, and I might have overlooked if the book had ever pointed out a case in which they did. And if the book didn't say anything about it, and it did happen, I'm wondering if they chose to leave it out in order to make Americans during that time seem more barbaric than the Native Americans to people today. While I agree that the Native Americans had a right to be angry for the white settlers driving them off their land, it seems to me that both sides were guilty in that aspect. Maybe this is one of those cases where, since we were not there at the time, history can be a bit biased, when in reality showing both sides may spark a different reaction. The way I see it, it seems that Native Americans and white settlers were both hostile from the very beginning, and both sides were equally responsible for the way things turned out. I'm also curious if the warriors in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend tried to use their women and children in battle as some people do today, with whom America is in conflict with...as human shields. Maybe there was slaughtering of the women and children in general, but I might have to do some research (or maybe the Professor can clear this up for me), it seems that this situation might not be so black and white. Either way, yes, it is not right that women and children were killed in the battle. But it might not have been completely the American's fault.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 7:39:27 PM EST
pose an interesting point Jenna, but there are some unpleasant matters to
consider when you ask if American Indians are also guilty of murdering women
and children. The first point is that the colonists were the aggressors: they
came here, took lands, and continued to push the Indians out of the lands of their
The second point is that the Natives were a nomadic tribal society. They traveled the continent as need dictated, hunted, gathered, and survived as a warrior society, and lived in large but diverse family units. When they were threatened, they fought or ran. Killing women and children in what they saw as the defense of their home, their very way of life was not hypocritical or immoral in their world view, it was simply what they had to do to survive, to keep the whites from stealing any more from them.
The third point is that, for a nation claiming to be democratic, where everyone is equal, it was simply another hypocritical evil act—in addition to being slave-owners—to kill women and children who simply refused to accept our tyranny.
I am not trying to debate the relative morality of killing defenseless women and children, and that is not what Native American "apologia" is trying to do. Rather, it is the attempt to point out that these kind of blatantly greedy, self-serving- and utterly hypocritical acts of the United States should never be accepted as justified, or we risk continuing the acceptance of evil committed in our name for now, then and any future acts which fit such apologetic criteria. In other words, if we really desire to be the bastion of freedom, a democratic gold standard for justice and blah blah blah, then we can't be blind to our own mistakes, or we will never really be worthy of anything other than destruction at the hands of other rebellions trying to slay a wicked dragon.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:36:35 PM EST
I can definitely see your point, they would want to point out that what Americans did was not right, but my point is how history can be a bit biased. And not saying that is wrong, maybe it is probably a case of that information having never been recorded. While yes you can consider us coming to the New World a mistake, others may not think so. I think it would have been inevitable. Now some of the ways that Americans went about things (slavery, converting, raiding, etc) were wrong, but some of what happened was inevitable and needs to be seen from their point of view, and the book does not do much of that. Now, the way I see it, Americans had the hostility and were pushing them back because they did not trust them, for the most part. And I don't think that's crazy...is it right? No, but this is where I point out that it isn't a black-and-white situation. The Native American's were not a completely civil people when we arrived here, and people became prejudiced against them. And that is why I think both sides are at fault, and personally I'd like to hear more of the wrongs on both sides, not just the Americans. I think the Native Americans could have done things differently in the beginning too, and things like this could have been avoided, just like if Americans had done things differently. Now specifically about the Battle of Horseshoe Bend...I would have preferred to read about both sides, and maybe the other side isn't there to read...but I'm thinking that if the Indians had in fact stood behind their innocents in the battle, who is really at fault here? In my mind, it's both. Definitely a messed up situation, but the Americans were also fighting to protect what they believed in...so are they more wrong for doing it, or are the Indians more wrong for allowing their women and children to stand in front of them? I guess we'll never know the whole story, but in my opinion they were both wrong.
Author: History Professor
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 1:52:03 PM EST
Jenna, you are correct in arguing that history is frequently subjective (but I don't think biased) in that historians interpret evidence in different ways. It is certainly true that not all Indian societies were alike. Some were nomadic, others sedentary, some hunters, others farmers. In addition, some were relatively peaceful and others more war like. The Comanches and Teton Sioux (Lakota) were particularly violent societies, protective of their land and willing to fight back and remove those who tried to take it. Like other human societies, Indians were territorial and protective of their homelands,
That said, it is difficult to argue that both "sides" take equal responsibility for atrocities committed during the Indian wars. What were sometimes described as 'battles' in the common lexicon and the press were more often punitive attacks against Indian villages to demoralize and exterminate them. Horseshoe Bend is a good example of that type of assault. It was a brutal attack on the Creeks and their allies, and as far as we know, the Indians never used their children and women as "human shields." Jefferson, Jackson and others of that time were intent on removing the Eastern tribes from their ancestral lands to make room for white settlements. They enjoyed a superiority in numbers and weaponry that made that removal all but certain. Very few Americans at that time objected to whatever tactics were used to accomplish that goal. In the long run, the Eastern tribes (and later the western tribes) never had a chance.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 9:42:16 AM EST
The problem though Jenna is that you
are trying to ascribe equivalent moral value to any atrocities that the Indians
committed vs. the same ones that whites committed. Look at it this way:
My neighbor Tom and his wife Diane invite my family over for dinner. They have a 6 year-old daughter, we have a 6 year-old boy. We go over, have a nice dinner, notice that they have an old tiny black & white TV. After dinner, we attack them, slaughter the daughter, rape and murder Diane, and then tie up Tom and throw him in the basement. My wife and I say to each other, "Can you effing believe it?! Black and white TV?!!" As we move into their house, and bring in our glorious 60-inch HD Internet ready TV and surround system, Tom manages to escape from the basement and go get some friends. They come back and murder my son, rape and kill my wife, and I get away. Then I cry for justice because hey, they murdered women and children too.
You see, there's a difference. Maybe not a great one in the sense that rape and murder are never "moral," but there is one in that it does actually matter who is the aggressor and who is the defender. In regards to your situation where the Indians stood behind their innocents... Well I wasn't there but maybe they thought that even the white devil couldn't be so depraved as to murder women and children in battle, or perhaps they were sending a message to the white man that if you are going to take our lands, you must be forced to face the cost of what you are really taking from us, our very lives, and families. Indians often had an odd sense of honor that way. In any case, the Americans were fighting because they believed they had a right to land that belonged to a people who were already living on it. If you can equate "what they believed in" to what the Indians believed in, then I'm afraid we will never come to an agreement on this.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 1:13:24 PM EST
Well I think we just have
different views on who provoked the violence, and yes it is a valid assumption
that it was completely the fault of the "white devil" since Native
Americans were here first. But Native Americans also had a chance to coexist
with the Americans, and instead they would not accept their ways just like the
Americans wouldn't accept theirs. Now thinking that whites were horrible for
taking land means you should probably think that the tribes that waged war over
land well before whites came to America were horrible too. So in reality it's
just humanity in general that gets this way. I think we can agree on that.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 2:00:04 PM EST
I understand your position,
but my main problem here is that you are trying to ascribe a moral system to
the Indians that simply doesn't exist. The Indians never claimed to be
Democratic, or to have a bill of Rights, or to be particularly moral according
to any definition that the whites were trying to impose. They were a free
people, and their only code of morals when dealing with the invaders was one of
survival. The fact that the natives were willing to welcome and even help the
first settlers says a lot about their overall human morals. They did not begin
the aggression, the colonists did, and it's not the case that the Natives
wouldn't accept American ways, just like it's not the case that my neighbor Tom
wouldn't accept my gift of an HD TV.
I agree that human nature is generally monstrous, but that's only an excuse for the Colonists in this case. All else being equal, it was the Americans who broke the peace, and behaved in a monstrous manner towards the Natives. Acting in defense does not have the same moral failing.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 8:16:53 PM EST
So I can see what you're saying
except for the moral code part...so just because they weren't as advanced as
the whites were, they should have gotten a free pass for any violence they
would have shown? And I'm definitely in no way saying that the Americans were
not horrible for the things they did, I'm trying to point out that neither side
was completely innocent. Having the morals we have now and how that seems
completely barbaric to us, it may not have been that way back then. I'm trying
to put myself in their situation (the Europeans/Americans)...what would have
made them snap at the Indians like that? I mean personally, if I showed up in
America and saw some of the tribes actually sacrifice their own people, I
probably would have been a little cautious too. And I understand that wasn't
all of them and some Europeans might have just wanted the Native Americans gone
because they were different, but sometimes there are just horrible people that
do horrible things (and so we learn to not do those things when we look back).
Now the Native Americans aren't wrong for defending their land, that's not my
point either...basically I'm just saying that it's people, some people can be
horrible in general. And since we are just learning about American history,
obviously we are going to be taught what the Americans did and what they did
wrong, but in some parts I think having knowledge of how the Native Americans
had acted or did would have been helpful in understanding the past even more.
I don't think we'll ever come to an agreement because you think that it was absolutely the whites that started the violence, I think it could have been the Native Americans (you're kind of reinforcing it by saying they basically had no moral code), but we'll never really know...and Europeans are not any less at fault if the Native Americans had started it, they could have just left...but that's the point, they weren't going too, they saw things differently than the Native Americans did. You say it's okay for the Native Americans to have a certain frame of mind and that excuses their actions, but so did the Americans, and yet they are the ones you find completely at fault. That's why I'm trying to think of how all of this could have happened, what could have made them tick...to me it seems both are at fault, it's just one of them was more advanced and gained control in the end. Yes, it's horrible, but it's history...it's messy with everyone, not just Americans. And of course, knowing what was wrong with your specific country's past is good to learn so that it is not repeated, and I don't have a problem with that, I think that is a great thing. Just kind of wondering about the things that are left out, which we will probably never know.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 11:23:00 PM EST
think you're mixing up the American Indians of the north with the Aztecs...
American Indians didn't perform human sacrifice, to the best of my knowledge.
Also, I did not say that they had no moral code, I said that you can't judge
them based on what your own morals are, and that their morals were, in the 1812
era, entirely survival based.
I will agree with you that a more detailed history of the Americas written from the Indian's perspective would be great, but I don't think that it would contain what you're looking for. I do find the Colonists entirely at fault for the genocide of the Indians, the same way I find the Nazis entirely at fault for the genocide of European Jews during WWII.
Rather than continue on in this vein however, let me ask a question. You say that it seems to you that the Natives are as much at fault for their own destruction as the colonists, but what is this feeling based on? Where is your evidence for this claim? As far as I can see, there is no factual evidence that supports your interpretation.
Thursday, February 28, 2013 12:22:03 AM EST
My point of this entire thing was to
say that I'm curious about the whole story. Simple as that, and if what I found
if we knew the whole story was that the Native Americans were completely
innocent human beings who absolutely accepted the Europeans when they came
here, then I'd 100% agree with you. I'm saying as far as accepting one another,
neither side did a good job of that, that is why this happened, and I'm curious
about exactly why neither side would compromise. That is what I'm basing it on.
I think we are here arguing because you are telling me what happened as far as history knows, and I'm telling you that I'm curious about why those things happened the way they did, the things that history wouldn't necessarily know. This seems a bit silly...lol.
Friday, March 1, 2013 8:41:08 AM EST
These events and their causes are pretty well documented, Jenna. What you are saying relative to shared responsibility makes sense; atrocities were committed by both sides. However, the Native American population throughout the hemisphere was decimated (literally--perhaps 90% of them had died following the European settlement). They had a very strong moral code, but couldn't understand and would not accept the notion that the US was entitled to their lands. It's a classic case of a clash between civilizations with very different definitions of what it meant to be human and civilized. To the Indians, the American were barbarians; to the Americans, the Indians were savages, and heathens (non-Christians) as well. Given those mind sets, there was very little room for compromise or a peaceful permanent resolution to their differences.
Saturday, March 2, 2013 9:14:10 AM EST
Jenna, but here's the problem. Your initial statement that started this whole thing
off was this:
"I'm curious if the Native Americans also used these tactics when raiding white settlements. My guess is yes, they did, and I might have overlooked if the book had ever pointed out a case in which they did. And if the book didn't say anything about it, and it did happen, I'm wondering if they chose to leave it out in order to make Americans during that time seem more barbaric than the Native Americans to people today."
This is why I finally asked you for the evidence that you were basing your suppositions on. You can't just say something like, 'there's no evidence for what I choose to believe, but I'm going to guess that there is evidence out there somewhere, and then build a wild theory on top of it.' Without evidence as a starting point, you've got nothing, you've built a tower on quicksand. That's not to say you're necessarily wrong in your suppositions, but until you can come up with something tangible to back up your claim, your idea that Indians might share as much blame in the atrocities of that time period as the colonists is then simply a religious belief, in the sense that you're basing your claim on faith rather than reality.
Sunday, March 3, 2013 6:19:43 PM EST
I am definitely allowed to
have my own opinion, and you saying the they have a "survival" moral
code tells me you think they were capable of it too. This is not a wild theory,
I'm saying that I'm curious about the Indians having committed some of those
acts, whether or not you think they're actions were justified (and I'd like to
point out I never said EITHER sides actions were justified, or that the Native
Americans were not). Like the professor said, this was a collision of cultures.
And I never said that evidence was out there, it is something I was curious
about. My theory (or rather a question, not a whole theory) came from the (very
few) comments in the book on the hostility from the Native Americans. If you
want to take everything as it is shown and not question whether there are other
sources out there that may have better insight, I'd say you're argument against
me is more based on faith. I think what you're trying to say is I'm religious
(I'm not) and that I'm trying to act like my statement is fact. And by the way,
in reality we do not have ALL the facts, so arguing with me about something I'm
curious about when you can't even prove it wrong is going to get you nowhere.
Sunday, March 3, 2013 8:24:34 PM EST
I am definitely allowed to
have my own opinion,
Absolutely. But opinions are only as good as the facts they are based on.
and you saying the they have a "survival" moral code tells me you think they were capable of it too.
This is not a wild theory, I'm saying that I'm curious about the Indians having committed some of those acts, whether or not you think they're actions were justified
Which acts? The ones you made up about them using women and children as shields, or the murders they committed in the defense of their way of life?
(and I'd like to point out I never said EITHER sides actions were justified, or that the Native Americans were not).
No, you just said that the Indians may be equally as culpable as the settlers for the war between them.
Like the professor said, this was a collision of cultures.
Agreed, but this has no bearing on our discussion.
And I never said that evidence was out there, it is something I was curious about.
Well that's part of your problem right there. I am curious whether or not there are alien life forms living beneath the icy surface of Europa, but I'm not about to argue with anyone about what color they are. What I mean is, arguing about the nature of something (whether the Indians committed certain atrocities) when you don't even know whether it exists or not (no evidence for such a supposition exists) is rather like flogging a dead horse.
My theory (or rather a question, not a whole theory) came from the (very few) comments in the book on the hostility from the Native Americans.
These comments in the book would count as evidence towards your theory... when I asked what your evidence for your suppositions is, that would have been a good time to quote them, so we could discuss their relevance in regard to your proposal.
If you want to take everything as it is shown and not question whether there are other sources out there that may have better insight, I'd say you're argument against me is more based on faith.
Nonsense. I am always open to new evidence, and I will gladly change my opinion if such evidence that I was previously unaware of suggests that I should. That's why I asked you for some. You've created what is known as a straw man argument here by suggesting that I don't want to hear any information that might go against what I believe in, and this indeed would be a faith based argument. But simply wondering aloud whether any evidence exists which might back up a claim that YOU made, and then saying that I am the one making a faith-based argument because I won't go out and find it is disingenuous. It is up to you to find evidence to support your claim, not me, and in any case if it is an authoritative argument that you want, the Professor also said that the facts from the time are pretty well known and he didn't seem to think that your supposition had any merit.
I think what you're trying to say is I'm religious (I'm not) and that I'm trying to act like my statement is fact.
No. I was using religion as an analogy. Also, you are not acting like your statement is fact, you are acting like your supposition has merit (which is different), and what I am saying is that without any evidence, your supposition has no merit.
And by the way, in reality we do not have ALL the facts, so arguing with me about something I'm curious about when you can't even prove it wrong is going to get you nowhere.
You keep saying that you were only saying that you were curious about this, but that isn't really how this whole thing went. You did ask a question in your original response to me, and I disagreed. You disagreed right back and so on... That's the nature of a debate. If you want to bow out because this argument is getting you nowhere, that's fine, but I actually quite enjoy debates of this sort as muddy thinking bothers me, and I get a kick out of pointing it out whenever someone engages in it. But to really drive the point home, you are saying that I can't prove you wrong because we don't have all the facts. How about this? I believe that there is a tiny bright green elephant who orbits a planet in a galaxy 30 billion light years away who sends people to hell for all eternity for saying that the American Indians share equal blame in their own genocide. You can't prove that I'm wrong to believe this, therefore my belief has merit. You might as well not even argue with me because it's just something I'm curious about. Now, you might think I'm being ridiculous for being curious about something so... ridiculous, but that is exactly what you or anyone else is doing when they try to assert an opinion or a supposition without any reason backing it up. As Christopher Hitchens so famously said, what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
Author: History Professor
Monday, March 4, 2013 8:28:00 AM EST
Monday, March 4, 2013 8:28:00 AM EST
Interesting rebuttal, messiestobjects , but there is a line between a spirited discussion and a cross examination. I'm not saying that you crossed it, but you're close.
Monday, March 4, 2013 11:31:56 AM EST
I'm sorry that you think so, Professor. My motive is simply that I enjoy a spirited debate, but when bad logic enters the discussion it has to be pointed out, or the debate can't go anywhere.
Monday, March 4, 2013 12:46:17 PM EST
Well this is just laughable now.
Monday, March 4, 2013 1:26:59 PM EST