Re: Resistance and Conquest in the Americas(was Amerind etc.)

Mary Beth Williams (
2 Aug 1996 22:58:51 GMT

In <> Shannon Adams <>
>I think everyone is ( or definately should be) aware by now that this
>an extremely tender topic. Words imply conclusion as to who's the
>guy* and who's the *good guy*. I'm pretty sure that is the root of
>discussion (it began about the term *Amerind*).
>As far as I can tell this is the way it stands. Modern Native
>feel they are being treated as a conquered people (and let's face it
>are still treated that way). Many Native Americans RESIST this
>definition of themselves (the *conquered people*) and find pride and
>value in seeing themselves as the only legitimate heirs (for lack of a

>better word) to nativeness (dumb word, sorry) and all that represents.
>Many European Americans on the other hand do not feel they should be
>accountable for the atrocities committed by people they didn't know
>(every if they are descended from them). Further they see their own
>people (working class immigrants from Europe) as an oppressed people
>(the oppression being the motivation for immigration in many
>examples). Thus these people RESIST being identified with the
>and try to enlist their own claims to nativeness.
>(If this isn't an accurate dipiction PLEASE let me know)
>I guess an important question is who has the RIGHT to be here? Is it
>the Native American populations? Is it the European Americans? I
>personally haven't the faintest idea. Because I am of European
>I don't really want to be told I'm not welcome. But at the same time
>can clearly see why Native Americans view Euro-Americans (as a group)
>intruders and worse. I'll admit to that I feel some responsibility
>the atrocities committed but I'm not sure how to repay them without
>committing more.

Shannon, your's is a very sincere and well-thought-out position... In
fact, in my own view (which I don't claim that all my Indian cousins
share, btw) I think that you address the crux of the issue, that
non-Indians, whether they or their ancestors were directly responsible
for starting and executing the policies of genocide against American
Indians, must understand and accept that they were not invited... Does
this mean that I believe you should all pack up and leave? That's
rather impractical, for me at least, as some of my family and many
friends would be on those boats. But feeling some responsibility is
not a *bad* thing...Hopefully, it leads to empathy and the
understanding that whites have negotiated with Indians from a position
of power for centuries, and so Indian resistance to the misuse of that
power may lead to conflict, some resolvable, some not. But I do think
that Steve Russell was accurate in stating that Indians don't care
really care about the term, whether it be Indian, Native American,
blood or breed, unless it is not used in *good faith*, as such a term
as *Amerind* is most often not.

Now perhaps we can move back to our regularly scheduled topics...
Immunity, or matriarchy, or the like....

MB Williams
Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst