Re: Amerindian resistance mode (was: amerindian an offensive

Gerold Firl (
12 Aug 1996 20:14:03 GMT

In article <4ulp76$>, (Paula Sanch) writes:
|> (Gerold Firl) wrote:

|> >In article <4ua7ob$>, (Paula Sanch) writes:

|> >|> Most NA tribes/nations want
|> >|> most that their lands not be despoiled. I guess it depends on what
|> >|> your vision of the Garden of Eden is, whether it is a place where
|> >|> nature rules or where cultivated plants parade in orderly rows toward
|> >|> the sunset.

|> >It'a all a question of population density. If the land is lightly
|> >populated, then agriculture isn't necessary. For the foreseeable future
|> >we will need those orderly rows of crops, if we want everyone to have
|> >enough to eat.

|> So you're in favor of a world population at or above 5 billion? Is
|> that what you're saying?

Strange question, but I guess the answer all depends on our technology.
Given what we have right now, and my personal tastes, the planet looks
pretty crowded, but this wasn't a question of *my* likes or dislikes;
one taste of mine which is widely shared is a desire to get enough to
eat. There are over 5 billion people on the planet right now, and we're
going to hit 10 million pretty soon, and most of them are going to try
not to starve to death. That means that we need to grow food,
regardless of the esthetic advantages or disadvantages of agriculture.

|> >A self-described iroquois from upstate new york in her 40's, named
|> >barbara johnson, told me that until recently she felt ashamed of her
|> >indian ancestry. In the last few years she had come to terms with her
|> >negative feelings, and last year she went to a sweat at a local
|> >reservation around here, to emerge feeling purified and reborn. She felt
|> >pride in her iroquois heritage, and felt good about herself.
|> >I didn't quiz her very thoroughly about how other iroquois felt about
|> >being indian; my impression was that she was not unique in her feelings,
|> >but we didn't get real sociological in our discussions.

|> Perhaps your acquaintanceship of NAs is more comprehensive than mine,
|> Gerold, but I doubt it, and I've never encountered anyone who was
|> ashamed. Is that truly the word she used?

Yes, that was the word.

|> If so, did you ask her
|> *why* she was ashamed? I would be very interested to know why any NA
|> was ashamed.

I didn't ask her, but here is my conjecture: the indian culture she
grew up in felt shame over having been defeated by whites. It wasn't so
long ago that victory in battle was cause for rejoicing, while defeat
meant shame or even extirmination. It's comparitively rare for human
cultures to consciously renounce military violence, and the iroquois
have never been known for pacifism.

|> In my book, it is conquerors and/or oppressors who do or
|> should feel shame, not the objects of their attentions.

That's a very modern attitude, a luxury afforded by the recent western
embrace of tolerance and multiculturalism. I can appreciate the

|> I feel
|> tremendous pride in my NA ancestry; I feel *no* shame, even for the
|> uncle who served time because he was unwilling to show the 'proper'
|> "yassa, massa" attitude.

Good for you. I feel the same way.

|> >Really? You've never met a native american who had a chip on his
|> >shoulder? Who felt angry and bitter about all the injustices suffered by
|> >his people? Who had even just the tiniest bit of trouble "appreciating"
|> >the culture of the conqueror/oppressor?

|> I've met plenty who were angry about the injustices; they make me
|> angry, too. The ones who have a real chip on their shoulders mostly
|> aren't walking around as free members of society; they're behind bars.
|> A real chip on the shoulder results in anti-social behavior, which
|> generally leads to prison time. To the best of my knowledge, there
|> are no NA participants on this NG who are behind bars. However, even
|> today, there are NAs who are in prison for reasons other than crime;
|> Leonard Pelletier is the most prominent, but hardly the only one.
|> One of the things that it seems clear to me you *don't* understand is
|> precisely what it feels like to be a "marginal" person (in the
|> anthropological sense).

Oh, I don't know. You might be surprised at what I can understand.

|> The thing that most whites refuse to see is that your ancestors (your
|> spiritual ancestors, if your family immigrated more recently, but you
|> are a part of the dominant white American culture) have "sown the
|> wind," and you (or maybe your descendants, if you're as incredibly
|> fortunate as your ancestors) will "reap the whirlwind."

I expect that any thinking person can see how previous policies have
led to the social problems of race and class in america. That is one of
the reasons why mainstream american culture has embraced pluralism and
civil rights so wholeheartedly. There are residual bigots, of course,
but they are pretty marginal. US culture is pretty firmly committed to
egalitarianism (or at least to meritocracy).

What most americans are unwilling to go along with is your idea of
karmic retribution. I think that most americans believe that indians
have had a raw deal, and deserve better. what they don't believe is
that they deserve to be punished for the actions of their "spiritual

|> worth anyone may assign or deny to the Christian Bible as a religious
|> document, it contains tremendous wisdom about sowing and reaping, and
|> about how your descendants pay, in due season, for what you do, in the
|> event that you do not, personally, "reap what you sow."

In china there is a tradition of punishing entire families for the
crime of one person. I believe that the practise spread as far west as
the roman empire, during the years of rot. But such a practice is
foreign to the west, where each individual is accorded responsibility
in measure to their freedom. Personally, I don't expect anyone to
"reap" what someone else has sown, unless it be by free and mutual

|> What sort of seed are you sowing, Gerold?

I'll let you judge that for yourself, paula.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf