Re: Amerind an offensive term (was: Early Amerind assimilation

Stephen Barnard (
Sun, 04 Aug 1996 21:20:23 -0800

Mary Beth Williams wrote:
> In <> Stephen Barnard <>
> writes:
> >
> >There is pretty good evidence that the early arrivals from Siberia
> >were responsible for the extinction of the large Pleistocene animals
> >in North and South America (animals like Mammoths and Giant Ground
> >Sloths). Some disagree with this, but that's the majority opinion
> >among those who are in a position to have informed opinions.
> Actually, this WAS the majority opinion some time ago, but is no longer
> an uncontestable view among *those who are in a position to have
> informed opinions.* At last year's (1995) SAAs there was an entire
> session on the Paleoindian *mammoth-hunter* myth, where most of the
> participants concurred that a more appropriate description of the first
> Paleoindian migration would be *vole hunters*.

I never said it was "an uncontestable view." In fact, I said "some
disagree with this." I believe that it's still the majority view, but
of course that doesn't make it right (or wrong).

> >There is no disagreement that the arrival of aboriginal people to
> >islands such as Madagascar,
> I guess that you've never read Dr. Laurie Godfrey's work on the giant
> lemurs of Madagascar, which does not indicate that humans were directly
> responsible, i.e., killed off, the megafauna on Madagascar. Dr.
> Godfrey (UMass-Amherst) is considered the leading authority on the
> subject.
> Cyprus, and New Zealand led to the extinction of many
> >defenseless island species, such as flightless birds and pygmy
> elephants.
> >

No, I've never read Dr. Laurie Godfrey's work on the giant
lemurs of Madagascar, and I never even mentioned the giant lemurs of
Madagascar. I have no idea what happened to them. It is very clear,
however, that the giant flightless birds of New Zealand were killed off
by the first human arrivals, to give just one example.

> >Indians in North America had the practice of stampeeding herds of
> >Bison over cliffs, killing as many as possible, and far more than
> >could be consumed.
> That's arguing that *consumption* was the primary reason for stampeding
> buffies. Hides provided shelter as well as clothing, and it is highly
> unlikely, as many separate groups would gather seasonally to hunt, that
> much of the hide went to *waste*.

I would include the use of hides as consumption, but that's not
relevant. There is no doubt that most of the meat went to waste. You
have to understand that I don't *blame* the Indians for this practice.
In their situation I would have probably done the same thing. I would
probably have killed as many mammoths as I could have, too. My only
objection is the claim that Native Americans had nothing but a benign
effect of the environment.

> >Today some Native American groups demand unlimited hunting and fishing
> >rights, even though they use modern weapons, steel traps, snowmobiles,
> >nylon nets, etc., justifying this by claiming that they only want to
> >pursue their traditional way of life. IMHO, if they want to pursue
> >their traditional way of life they should do it with stone-age tools.
> So, what you're saying is that Indian subsistence technology remained
> completely static for 12 millenia, never changing, never adopting new
> and more effecient tools and ideas? That only Paleoindians (up to 9000
> BP) are real Traditionals?

That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that it's hypocritical to
claim special rights based on a desire to practice traditional customs
when the exercise of those rights would be done in a decidedly
nontraditional (and harmful) way. Do you think it's OK for Indians in
Alaska to use semiautomatic weapons to massacre walruses for their ivory
(which they then illegally sell), while leaving the carcasses to rot?

Steve Barnard