Re: Amerindian resistance mode (was: amerindian an offensive

Mark K. Bilbo (
Fri, 06 Sep 1996 17:01:12 -0600

In article <504ti5$>, (Gerold Firl) wrote:

>Whether or not the message of black elk was
>reshaped to make it more palatible for white consumption is immaterial;
>in fact, it serves to illustrate further the process by which US
>culture learns from other cultures

Um, really?

And if I pick up a book written in a language I do not understand but
proceed to attach meanings to the words on the paper, am I then "learning"
from that book?

Not, it is *not "immaterial." Though I will agree that this does rather
illustrate the process of "learning" common to the US culture. That is, the
reshaping of the "other" to suit cultural assumptions about the world then
the pretending to have learned that one's own culture was "right" all
along. It's an onanstic excersize I doubt qualifies as "learning."

>However, certain
>ideas and perspectives have been adopted, and american culture is
>better as a result.

Any examples or are we to accept this as revealed knowledge and merely be

>I would expect that reciprocal exchange would be a concept which is
>found throughout indian culture.

In many Indian cultures (plural, note the plural), yes. However,
communication between conqueror and conquered is *not a reciprocal
exchange. And the information flow is *always distorted by the power

US culture, by asserting its political and military dominance over the
native nations, has completely closed the doors to any real communication.
Communication between conqueror and conquered is *always distorted to suit
the conquering culture's preconceptions. Dominant cultures always have to
create mythologies that justify their dominance. And they see whatever they
*wish to see in the cultures of those whom they have marginalized.
Additionally, it is a survival strategy of marginalized cultures to give
back whatever images please the militarily superior dominant culture. One
rarely finds people who are willing to disagree with the man holding the
loaded gun to their heads.

>In a potlatch, careful track is maintained of who
>gives what to whom, and how much.

One gets the image of an Indian accountant with a ledger standing off to
the side of a potlatch.

Let see some references. I don't believe you.

>Hunter-gatherer customs of generosity
>are based on the assumption that reciprocity will be maintained.

That's interesting. But what do "hunter-gather" customs have to do with

>The west
>has gained enormous power by bringing reason to bear on ignorance,

ROFL!! That's funny. Tell me another.

>You're a little behind the times there. The messianic drive to stamp
>out the beliefs of others is gone. At the same time that the west made
>a commitment to end racism (roughly 30 years ago now) came the embrace
>of multiculturalism; the idea that US culture will be stronger,
>healthier, and truer as a result of encouraging other cultures to
>coexist under the big tent. In effect, US culture, at that point,
>committed to becoming a super-culture incorporating autonomous
>subcultures. The key to making that work is tolerance, respect, and
>appreciation for differences, which should make anthropology a key
>discipline in creating the american superculture - assuming we can stop
>yelling at each other about how my culture is better than yours. %^)

Speaking of mythology...