You both missed the point of the above post. A necessary component of genocide is that it must be a conscience effort in the case of native americans this is suspect. The biggest problem I see with you arguments is that they are based on the same flaws in thinking about the native Americans. Originally, people posted why they thought the native americans lost etc, but this generalizes a situation that was unique to every tribe and every time period. To compare the events of the Pequot War to that of the events of Wounded Knee homogenizes the plight of Native Americans too much. In the case of the Pequot as I said they were an Algonquin people and as such their final doom was brought about not so much by the English, but by their Iroquis allies.
In fact many of your examples of atrocities towards the native Americans come from the plains/western indian area, and aren’t applicable to the first 250 years of European/Native American encounters. The phrase “the only Indian is a dead Indian” has been attributed to Phil Sheridan circa 1875. I also believe there is some doubt as to whether or not he actually said it.
It is definitely true that each conflict is unique, especially since in many cases there are decades separating the events in question, and no one would deny that each Native American nation constitutes a distinct cultural and linguistic unit, just as any European ethnic group does. Nevertheless, certain generalizations can be made which hold true in all cases, especially when we are talking about the kinds of philosophies which motivated the white Americans. These are worthy of comparison with the racist attitudes of the Third Reich. The idea that one group in superior in race and culture (white Americans/Germans) and has been ordained by a higher power (God/Providence) to displace and conquer the other (Native Americans/Slavs) is certainly a common theme. Of course, how this idea was applied in each case was radically different.
I did not accuse the Americans of engaging in a systematic programme of genocide comprable to that of the Nazis, but there can be no doubt that attempts at wiping out entire Native tribes were made by certain groups of colonists at certain times (And that a general attitude was prevalent that the Natives should alternately be assimilated or annihilated). I don’t think that the colonists can be exonerated simply by blaming their Indian allies for their role in the destruction of the Pequot. Consider these words by Cotton Mather:
“In a little more than one hour, five or six hundred of these barbarians
were dismissed from a world that was burdened with them.”
“It may be demanded…Should not Christians have more mercy and
compassion? But…sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their
parents… We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings.”
-Puritan divine Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana
The Pequot are not extinct, but they certainly feel that an attempt at genocide was made against them. I e-mailed a Pequot friend of mine about this discussion, and he recommended the book AMERICAN HOLOCAUST, CONQUEST OF THE NEW WORLD
Oxford Press, 1992 for anyone interested.
I never compared the slaughter of the Pequot to Wounded Knee, but such a comparison could be made without homogenizing the Native American nations involved, just as one could compare the Armenian Holocaust to the Shoah without homogenizing Europeans. Such is the nature of historical survey.
Also, I am aware that some have attributed the “dead Indian” quote to Sheridan, but he was certainly not the first to say it. Vine DeLoria and other imminent historians have reported that it was prevalent in the 18th c., long before Sheridan’s time.
But the idea that the Native societies became so eroded as to deserve displacement and removal to reservations is not only morally bankrupt and reprehensible, but also factually incorrect. This is especially true in the case of the Cherokee
I wasn’t implying they deserved removal only they were victims of larger socio-economic forces which they had no control over. The Cherokee for example did manage to resist white invasions for a long while. In fact if you look at the history of the settlement of the deep south, Alabama was the last state settled because the Cherokee presented a bulwark against settlement from Tennessee. The point I was making here was that white settlement caused dislocation of native peoples which eroded their concept of land ownership. In previous posts others mentioned the Indians were pushed off their because they had no concept of land ownership which isn’t true at all, but when your homeland changes 2-3 times in 100 years it becomes less important to hold on to for purely nostaglic reasons…
I don’t disagree with this, so long as it is not used as a justification for displacement after displacement. You realize that apologists for Americans expansion could warp this argument to suit their purposes.
By in large comparing Indian displacement to Lebensraum is totally inaccurate when I think a better comparison is to that of land enclosure of peasants in England.
I disagree, based on the similarities that I pointed out in my previous post to Janus. The feelings of racial and cultural superiority over the displaced which was present in both Hitler’s move east and America’s move west was lacking in the land enclosure of the English peasants. Perhaps my comparison would seem a little more accurate if Hitler’s move east would have been more successful, and the area was now populated by Germanic settlers.